How Can We Teach Our Children to be Thankful?

Ack!  How did this happen so soon???    We are already roaring into the Thanksgiving season.

Although… is it an actual season, or is it just a stepping stone between Halloween and Christmas?  Every year, Thanksgiving seems to less and less in our awareness, other than the big meal that sends us rolling to our couches afterwards.   But what does Thanksgiving mean?  Have we gotten too busy to slow down and take notice anymore? And what effect does that have on our families?

How do you teach your children to be thankful?   I mean, truly thankful?

Even though Thanksgiving is more than a week away, I believe that now is the time to consider what we want to teach our children about what it means to be thankful.  By next week, we’ll be shopping for extra groceries or madly cleaning before the relatives arrive.  So let’s talk about this right now.

We all know this, but I’ll say it anyway:  We are immersed in a culture of entitlement and “must-have’s.”  So it is very difficult to convince our children that there is much to be thankful for.  Kristen Chase shares my struggle:

… these days, I feel as though the sentiment of Thanksgiving has been lost.  I might go so far as to say that the entire sentiment of thankfulness is slowly disappearing. And I’m wondering how we teach this more effectively to our children.   Read the entire article here:

Chase laments that she rarely gets thank-you notes anymore.   Although, she immediately states that “we’re all somehow busier.”  Honestly, I question this.  I feel compelled to point out that when we examine just travel time and cooking time, we have more time on our hands than anyone who has ever lived before us.  So, sorry, but I just don’t buy the “too busy” argument.


How long does it really take to express appreciation?

Chase acknowledges that even though she helps her children as they contribute no-longer-used toys to charity, she’s “…not quite sure they fully understand the feeling of gratefulness.” After living in South Africa and helping the poorest villages there, and feeding the homeless in Philadelphia, she says that when her children “…toss aside new shoes or toys without even so much as a thought, I am greatly bothered.  (That is a really nice way of saying extremely angry)…”

Chase herself experienced many profound moments in her life that cultivated thankfulness:  helping others less fortunate than herself, and also being helped during rough patches of her own life.  Of course, this cultivates thankfulness in ourselves.  But what about our children, who haven’t been out in the world that much yet?

To Chase, (and myself)  “…being thankful is just as important as learning math, science, and grammar. The trouble is that there aren’t such neat and tidy books and methods to teach it.”

How can we teach our children to be thankful?  What words or deeds help to instill a natural tendency to be thankful for everyday simple things, let alone the big items?

Let’s think about this before yet another Thanksgiving rolls into our lives.  What happens in your life during the Thanksgiving season?  If you don’t feel inspired or uplifted, or sincerely thankful, what do you do?  What have you done in the past that has helped to lift you and others out of a passive attitude?  How do you approach “thankfulness” in your life and the lives of others?  Please, please scroll down and share with us about how you cultivated thankfulness in yourself, and how you do the same for the children in your life.  We can all use some reminders and new inspiration.

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