Building a heart of thankfulness in our children

Not letting the media dictate who our children can be.

Oh how I dislike watching movies or TV shows that have children in them. Boy, that’s sort of a blanket statement and I’m sorry, but it’s true. The families are mostly irritating, disrespectful, narcissistic and rude. The children tend to be belligerent and ungrateful, always demanding more and being satisfied with less. I seldom see thankfulness present in anyone’s attitudes, parent or child.

Building thankfulness into our children

What I don’t know is if Hollywood picks up on more subtle attitudes that are already in our culture and magnifies them, or if by their overt depictions of selfishness, they actually build worse character flaws. What I do know is that having a heart of thanksgiving is NOT natural for us. Not natural in the flesh, that is.

God gives us a new nature and His Spirit to build a heart of thanksgiving inside of us. We just need to learn how to strengthen that in ourselves and in our children. Here are some thoughts on how we can help do that in our families.

Model a heart of thankfulness

We often forget that we teach more by how we live than what we say. If our lives are lived with ingratitude or satisfying fleshly desires, then that is exactly what we teach our children. Are we quick to give thanks in good times AND in bad? Are we quick to praise God in every situation?

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thes 5:18

Practice thankfulness

I don’t mean practice eating turkey, but I do mean that we should practice doing right – giving thanks. We have our children practice their math facts, their handwriting, their music lessons, even driving a car. What makes us think that giving thanks comes naturally? It is a pattern of behavior that needs to be practiced! Think of speech patterns you can develop and practice in YOUR home. Do you children readily thank their siblings for kind actions? Do they thank you after a meal? Do they thank Dad when he plays with them outside or goes to a ballgame? Are they practicing thanksgiving in your own family so that it becomes as natural to them as breathing? If not, then it is about time!

It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night… Ps 92:1-2

Give to others as an expression of our abundant blessings

I confess that this is not something we’ve done much. Over the years we never really had many material things, and what we had were always hand-me-downs that sort of got destroyed by all the use they got in our home. But our inability to give to others has been detrimental to our hearts of thanksgiving, I believe. We do have some children, who are quick to give. When they do, it always impresses on us thankfulness for all the ways God has blessed us.

Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Tim 6:18-19

I’m sure you can come up with many practical ways to flesh these basic point out in your families. I know we have done many activities to help train them. I’d love to hear how your family lives out these teachings of giving thanks!

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually! Ps 105:1-4

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

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  1. I just wrote a post on Thankfulness and used the same verse but from 1 Chronicles 16 🙂

    I’ve tried to instill thankfulness in my children and some express it and others not-so-much. I am not sure at this point, what I did to help with that as I am at a point where I see nothing working outside of God doing the work.

    • Judith, I love you post on thankfulness!! And isn’t it great that God does the work and calls us to respond? It’s never anything we can take credit for, but we follow His lead and guidance and watch as He brings fruit of righteousness.

  2. Such a great reminder to cultivate thankfulness! One thing we did was teaching our children from little up to say thank-you after mealtime. And when we ate at someone else’s house or someone gave them a gift we had them thank the person. Habits happen as we practice them. I want thanksgiving to be more than a habit, yet it’s a good thing to learn to just automatically do. 🙂

    • And I’ll bet that your host was very impressed by your children’s respectful and thankful spirit! Thanks for sharing that, Deborah, and for stopping by today!

  3. A good reminder to continue to grow thankfulness in my life! It is wonderful that you are aiming to instill this attitude in your children… keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Thanks, Chantelle! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to chat!


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