An Attitude of Gratitude

27 11 2012

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we don’t have to be thankful. Right? Obviously, not.

As parents, we want our children to have an attitude of gratitude. How does that happen? We know it wouldn’t work to simply say, “Starting today, you’re going to be thankful no matter what.”

It would be nice if we could just say it and make it so.

How ‘bout simply modeling gratitude? Some children would imitate our frequent praises. Others might miss them completely.

We can be purposeful in teaching about gratitude. We can be determined to build a thankful spirit in our kids.

How can we, as worn-out parents, do that in the context of a hectic life? Happily, the Bible provides guidance.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

The secret: Talk about God’s commands everywhere and all the time.

Moses was worn out counseling God’s people. His father-in-law gave him this advice. He told Moses to teach God’s people His “decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.” (Exodus 18:20)

We can follow that wise counsel: Show kids how to live and behave.

What would that look like?

When I taught second graders, I focused on a theme for the entire year. One year the theme was ‘An Attitude of Gratitude.’

Activities included:

  • Focusing on a Bible verse about gratitude each week.
  • Compiling a gratitude list (added to often). By the end of the year, we had a scroll that matched the length of a long hallway!
  • Singing songs about thanks and praise. Example (sung to the tune of “Oh Be Careful Little Hands What You Do”):

Sometimes God answers yes when we pray.

Sometimes God answers wait when we pray.

Sometimes God answer no,

Just because He loves us so.

For I know He always answers when we pray.

  • Making the most of teachable moments…times when students faced disappointments. They provided opportunities to have discussions about how we can be grateful in spite of circumstances.
  • Reading poetry and books about gratitude.
  • Having a motto: “Count your blessings one by one. Then you’ll see what the Lord has done.”
  • Writing about times which led to gratitude.
  • Going on a gratitude hunt. One day was designated for students to collect reasons to be thankful. They were encouraged to look outside, inside, at people, in activities, etc.
  • Using academic content as reasons for thanks. Science is full of God’s awesome power in creation. Math reminds us that we can be grateful for order (instead of confusion). Stories in Social Studies and History provide numerous heroes. Characters worthy of our praise.
  • Encouraging children to thank others on a regular basis (e. g, thank a friend for helping, thank someone who saved a seat…).

Click on the link below to find a list of gratitude verses.

Gratitude Verses

How else could you teach your child to have an attitude of gratitude?

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One response

29 01 2013
Rebecca Bryan

This blog posting is very informational, not only to teach and remind children about gratitude but to also remind parents and adults alike of the importance of being thankful and grateful for the provisions in our lives. I liked your idea of having children create a list of things to be grateful for, but not letting it be a one time activity. Instead you were able to help them see more things they are grateful for as the year advanced, possibly showing their own growth in understanding of what gratitude truly is. This is a very cool way that you helped implement a difficult to practice, but important, aspect of life into the curriculum you used everyday. These are all interesting approaches to learning and teaching about gratitude which could be a great new way to teach!

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