How to Teach Your Children Gratitude

I have noticed being around the children at Church and at co-op settings that the virtue of gratitude is missing in a lot of families. I am writing this article in prayer of helping other families that recognize this missing virtue and are searching for an answer.

My daughter had the same problem… she wasn’t thankful for nothing. She was becoming materialistic at such a young age. I didn’t know what to do, but knew I didn’t like what was forming before my eyes. My daughter lacked gratitude—being thankful for all things, good or bad, believing that Romans 8:28 stands true.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Here are seven ways that as you go through the day, show them the events that happen that mostly we take for granted.

  1. You must be the example! It is better to teach them by using appropriate words and actions at the right time. For example, start saying “thank you” and “please” when speaking to your children. They learn best through examples.
  2. Teach them by showing how to be of service to others. Holding a door for the elderly is an example of doing something simple for others to bring a smile in the hearts of your children and the other person receiving the service. We made baskets of “goodies” and gave to the elderly women in our church.
  3. Teach gratitude through role playing. Play games that will reinforce the virtue of gratitude.
  4. Make a “Thankful Tree.” From construction paper cut out the trunk using brown. For the leaves of the tree, trace your children hand on various color paper such as red, yellow, orange and green. On each hand, have the children written down what they are thankful for. This is a fun activity to do around Thanksgiving time.
  5. Teach gratitude as a life lesson. My single family (my two daughters and myself), went through a hurricane where we was without electricity for three weeks. We even lost our business. During this time, I was able to share with my girls on ways to be grateful. When stepping into a cold shower, I would say: “I might not have hot water, but Praise God we have water!” This began a new way thinking for us. The things that we take for granted are really blessings the Lord has given to us!
  6. Teach them to see good in someone they don’t like. Being grateful in all things… even the people who aren’t nice to you. You can use any negative experience to teach your children the value of being grateful. Have you ever watched “PollyAnna” where she played the “Glad” game and found many things to be grateful for in every situation she came to? This would be a great time to rent the movie. It makes a great “family movie” night.
  7. Show them how to be grateful in little things. As mentioned above about the electricity and having no warm water, well most of us wouldn’t consider lights and water a small thing. But they are simple things we have in our day-to-day lives that we don’t pay much attention to. Other simple examples could be friends, food to eat all the time. This would be a great time to show the children examples of the third world countries. Compare and contrast the children, yours to the third-world countries, to find many things to be grateful for. This is usually a big “cliff-hanger!” My daughter learned a lot by doing the “compare and contrast.” She was very thankful that her mommy buys her shoes to where, and even underwear!

Teaching gratitude is no different than teaching any other virtue that is lacking. Children live by examples!!

Bible verse to memorize:

In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~

Bible story to relate to gratitude:

Jonah and the Big Fish – Book of Jonah. We see in Jonah 2:1-10 that Jonah is very grateful for god saving him.

The Parable of the Prodigal son has a valuable lessons about gratitude and being thankful for what you have!

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