Teaching Our Children to Choose Thankfulness

2TurkeyHow can we encourage our kids to have a thankful spirit instead of a complaining one? We’ve all heard it: “I don’t like this food!”, “It’s not fair!”, “I don’t’ want to clean my room!” Let’s teach our children Philippians 2:14 so they know that they shine like stars when they don’t complain.

And, we need to ask ourselves, How are we doing in this area? In front of our kids, are we complaining or celebrating? When our children grumble, how do we respond? Do we cover it with a bandaid hoping they will stop, or do we not accept that kind of attitude, and try to change an ugly habit of complaining into a grateful one of giving thanks?

Four ways to encourage our children to shift from complaining to thankfulness are:

1) Memorize Philippians 2:14 together: “Do everything without complaining or arguing…so that you shine like stars.”

2) Talk about scenarios and ask if A or B is a thankful attitude. For example, “A little girl is given a bowl of cereal she doesn’t like. Which reaction is making her shine like a star: A) I don’t like this cereal- ewe, gross! (if you are extra dramatic, many giggles will follow) or B) This isn’t my favorite, but thank you for my food, mommy.” Another example is “A boy is asked to clean up his room. Which one shows thankfulness: A) Sure. I’m glad I have a room to clean up. B) Ugh! Do I have to!? I only want to play. It’s all about me!” It might seem silly, but sharing relatable scenarios, can be very helpful in teaching our kids new ways to respond. My children love this activity and also enjoy creating their own examples.

3) When our children are complaining about being tired of walking, we can share how wonderful it is that we have legs to use. We can shift our focus to kids who don’t have the gift of walking, and we can pray for those kids. I think it’s important to be delicate because we don’t want our children to be overwhelmed, but when we correct small complaints, more of their thoughts are focused on gratitude.

4) A fun activity to fill their mind with thankfulness is to draw a turkey and cut out feathers to glue on the turkey. Have them write (or draw pictures of) what they’re thankful for on each feather. Or, they can cut out a star, and write or draw what they’re thankful for on each point of the star.

I’ve shared with my kids that they have a choice of seeing the glass half-full or half-empty. We can focus on what we don’t have (the empty part of the glass), or we can think about all we do have (the full part of the glass) and be grateful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that God’s will for us is to be thankful at all times, so let’s bask in the life-giving choice of thankfulness! We have this choice every day; every moment.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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