It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High. (Psalm 92:1)
November is the month when we talk about gratitude and thanksgiving … we have Thanksgiving sales, turkey entrees at our favorite restaurants, stores adorned with pumpkins and cornucopias and airports that are crazy crowded.
But thanksgiving/gratitude is so much more than a date on the calendar … or the bargains we’re hoping to get the day after Thanksgiving.
Gratitude should be an intrinsic motivator every minute of every day.
Psychologists Dr. McCullough of SMU and Dr. Emmons of UC did a study. They divided several hundred people into three groups and asked each group to keep a diary.
Group 1: Write down anything that happens during the day, both the good and bad.
Group 2: Write down only your complaints, the bad stuff that happens.
Group 3: Write down only the good things, the things for which you are thankful.
The result: Those who concentrated on gratefulness showed a higher degree of enthusiasm, energy and even alertness. In addition, they were less stressful and depressed.
God is not surprised. He is our Creator and therefore knows best how we should live … and one instruction He gives us over and over is to give thanks.
As Christians, we should be the most thankful people around … after all, we have purpose for living and hope for the future. And as parents we want to convey that attitude of gratitude to the children in our lives.
*By replacing our own complaints with thanksgiving. After giving your kids some examples, ask them to think of their own examples.
(We could say: “Most of the leaves in our yard are from the neighbor’s trees. I don’t understand why they can’t cut down those branches” or we could say: “True, we have more leaves to rake, but we enjoy the beautiful colors on the Smith’s trees, don’t we?”)
*By asking each person at the dinner table to list two reasons they are thankful for the day.
*By saying prayers that focus on thankfulness rather than a list of things we want God to do for us.
*By once a month having a “thanks day” where each family member writes a note of thanks to someone for what they do. (Younger children can draw pictures.)
*By writing your “gratitude” on sticky notes and sticking them on a door, refrigerator (or around the classroom).
*By having a “no grumbling” day. See who can go the whole day without complaining.
*By starting thanks journals either individually and/or as a family, leaving the journal open on a counter or coffee table.
Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. But gratitude is something that should grow inside of us as we concentrate on being thankful for all the little moments of the day … and as we mentor our children in developing mindsets of thankfulness to God.
What do you do at your house to teach your kids gratitude?