Building a Heart of Gratitude

In this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, many parents want their families to be more than the sum of consumerism and media bytes about these holidays. We want our children to be grateful, thankful and giving people. We want them to contribute to our society. We want them to be good citizens who care for those less fortunate around them.

How do we do this? How do we build a heart of gratitude?

I wish I had some great ideas on what I’ve done and how well I’ve trained my children. I’m still working this one out myself and have more failure than success, I’m sorry to say. But I can share the few things we’ve done or have worked on (or are still working on). I’m sure you can share much more than I can, and I’m excited to learn from YOU!

  • When our children were little, we did a Thankful Tree. I’d cut out a trunk (I’m no artist, I’m afraid) and I’d cut out leaves and each day we were all encouraged to write out what we were thankful for that day and put it on the tree. By Thanksgiving, we had a full and beautiful tree of gratitude!
  • For years, we’ve sponsored a  young man from India with Compassion International. Reading  his letters was always a treat for us all! We supported their desires to support their own child.
  • Our children always knew that our financial resources were limited. They were trained to be frugal shoppers. They knew that many things they wanted were not things we could buy and were encouraged to earn their own money to buy their special “luxuries”.
  • When we open our gifts on Christmas morning, we often spend time praying for and giving thanks for those who gave gifts to us.
  • We’ve participated in Operation Christmas Child as a family and supported their own desire to do their own.

As you can see, this is not my biggest strength, but I’m thankful for the few things we have done and always looking to learn more and better ways to grow. Our children really do enjoy helping others and really are grateful for the blessings in their lives.

What things have YOU done (or do) to help build hearts of gratitude in your children?

Blogs I might be linking to:
Monday, Hear it On Sunday, Sharing His Bounty, What Joy Is Mine, Playdates at the Well, Back to School Monday, Domestically Divine Tuesdays, Time Warp Wife, Funky Planet Frequent Flier Club, Encourage One Another, Living Well Wednesdays, Legacy Leaver Thursday, What’s Up Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Hearts 4 Home, Thankful Thursday, First Day of My Life , Thankful Thursdays, Thankful, Thankful Thursday Brown-eyed Bell(e), Big Family Fridays, Faith Filled Fridays, Feasting In Fellowship Friday, Homemaking Link-up Week-end, A Little R&R

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  1. We did a thankful tree this year for the first time. I meant to link it up last week and I forgot but this week I did share how we made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Even though my little guy is only 2, I think its the beginning to new family traditions to teaching him how to have a giving heart too. 🙂

    • Beginning to make these traditions when they are this young is so wonderful! It helps them learn that this is a normal way of life! Great job, dear!

    • Well, I never thought to keep some…what a great idea! Thanks for the visit, sweetie!

  2. I think your ideas and ACTION are wonderful. We have done a variety of things such as you have. One sad truth in training our children has been through our mistakes and lack of healthy stewardship with our finances. Though we have done so much better than what we were taught growing up, my hubby and I have now faced an unhealthy debt load three times in our marriage! We fall, learn, only to fall again. At the moment we have this debt looming over us. True, it is not much compared to some, but it interferes with us giving as we would like. We have often told our kids be frugal and responsible and THANKFUL for the abundance God gives you and don’t fall into the materialism trap and get over taken by debt. Our debt was not from frivolous things…dental work, van repairs, college applications…still. We should have had more faith to TRUST His care than jump the gun and justify the “imperative” needs. How awesome would it have been should we had waited…like we did so many times in the past?
    Well, learning and growing…it’s life, right!?
    Thanks once again for a GREAT insightful post on learning to love our children!

    • Donna, ain’t it the truth that we train most through trial and error (and very often through error). But that’s how God teaches us too! Blessings to you, darlin’!

  3. Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving tree, Kate. Though we don’t live in the states, our family has started a tradition of having a thanksgiving dinner every after New Year. So, you gave me the idea to set up our own tree on that day and write our gratitude list.

    My husband and I do our best to teach gratitude to our children. We both grew up in the province and had a hard life, especially through college. And even now that we’ve been tremendously blessed, we do not pamper our children but instead, we train them to be grateful for everything.

    • Rina, as always, it is such a delight to see you!

  4. Great ideas. I love them all. Thanks for linking up at

    • Thanks Debi. I always love hearing from others how God has taught them in these areas as well.

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I appreciate it when you come by, I am thankful for YOU! Strengths and weaknesses are built from day to day experiences and we grow whether we notice it or not. You have shown some wonderful posts and have been very encouraging to me and I am sure to others. I have shared already that I cannot have children but I am very glad that God has given you that gift and that you are following His guidence in raising them. By the sounds of your posts you are doing a great job with what He has given you. God bless you!

    • Thanks, Correna! Well, and the wonderful thing about discipleship is that it can be training our children or discipling others as we minister! You are such a sweetie and I have really enjoyed getting to see your dear heart through your blog!

  6. Oh Kate, I love your ideas. My kids, and now my grandkids and I have done some of the same – including Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoeboxes. We had a grand time buying those gifts earlier this month and spent time talking about how we are blessed with so much and so many children have so little. I’m praying that, with annual repetition, the message will minister to their hearts. Have a blessed week preparing for Thanksgiving. 🙂

  7. I love the Thankful Tree. My crew will be doing that next week! 🙂 It is so important to teach our children how blessed they are and all the things they have to be grateful for. We always go around the table at our Thanksgiving meal and say what we are thankful for. It’s a nice way to start the holiday season.

    Hugs! Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. I love this activity. It’s really what the holiday is all about. Thanks for sharing!


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