Teaching Gratitude

I’m trying something new today. I decided to participate in 5 Minute Friday with The Gypsy Mama. No editing or self-critique. Just write for five minutes and publish. It is taking great self-restraint not to read over this and edit before I hit PUBLISH, but I’m going to do it anyway. Cringe!  Today’s writing prompt was: GRATITUDE

It sounds innocent enough, but underneath the words I hear something more dangerous than just an off-handed complaint, I sense a more menacing threat.

“I didn’t want to eat here.”

“This is boring.”

“I’m too tired to clean my room.”

Taken as isolated comments, these sound like harmless ways my children express themselves. But string them together over the course of a day and throw in a little attitude, and I become aware that my children need to learn to live lives of gratitude.

We have so much. Sure there are those who have more, but we have much more than we need to exist. I want to provide opportunities and fun experiences for my children, but I also want to see those things as privileges, not rights.

The Bible says that to whom much is given, much is required.

So how does a mom teach an attitude of gratitude?

As I brainstorm this morning, I record these ideas:

1. We need to spend more time serving people who have less.

I need to let them take more active roles in communicating with our sponsored Compassion child. I should teach them about Ethiopia and what everyday life must be like for Tekalign.

I should look for ways we can serve those in need right here in our community. My children need to know that it isn’t just people who live in third world countries who need our help; many in our own city go to sleep hungry and without the basic provisions we take for granted.

2. I need to express my own gratitude more freely. They need to hear me thank more and complain less. I feel like I am a grateful person but I wonder how often they hear my appreciation.

They also need to serve others. They need to know what it looks like to put others before themselves. I need to become more faithful in writing thank you notes to people who have shown me kindness. Thank you notes have become a lost art and I’m so guilty of letting my verbal thanks serve as my only expression of gratitude.

How do you teach your children to be grateful?

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Teaching Gratitude

  1. Great post! Isn’t it amazing to see what comes to mind when you just think and write? You are so right about letting your children see you serving and being grateful for…well-EVERYTHING! I am going to work on that today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love to see how different peoples minds work. 🙂

  2. I’ve had these same thoughts. It is very, very difficult to teach gratitude to children (and adults) who live in a competitive, consumer society that breeds entitlement. I think awareness is the key. If they are frequently faced with the truth of our riches and excess, then it will be harder for them to be ungrateful.

    ps: I could never participate in this meme. I continue to edit my posts even weeks after I publish them. It’s nearly a sickness.

    • whimzie

      I do, too! In true OCD-fashion. I feel like my post is walking around out there without any clothes on! Once upon a time, I did freelance copyediting for my pastors. I don’t think you ever fully walk away from that job.

      And so I sit here and cringe.

  3. “I need to express my own gratitude more freely. They need to hear me thank more and complain less.” I think this is key to teaching our children to have a heart of gratefulness. Children are quick to spot a point of disconnect in our lives where we’re saying one thing and doing something quite different. My mom used to say, “BE the kind of person you want your child to become.” Wise words!

    Thank you for this blog! It was great! (No need to cringe!) 🙂

  4. Excellent post! It is so important for our kiddos see us live a life of gratitude!

  5. Yeah, number two sorts of hits where it hurts, eh? I’ve been sharing some of these thoughts with you lately myself. Great job with the five minutes…you must type like speedy!

    • whimzie

      Thanks, Bobbi!

      I do type pretty fast. I think it’s because I tend to have lots of thoughts crowding my head at one time and I talk fast when I’m excited so my fingers have had to learn to keep up. (And don’t tell anyone, but I actually wrote for seven minutes because I was right in the middle of a thought.)

  6. Lurve. And…well…lurve. Except that it seems really hot in here for some reason. 😉

  7. Teaching gratitude to children is so challenging! I have my kids list 5 things they are thankful for anytime they start grumbling.

    • whimzie

      That’s a great idea, Emily! I think I’m going to try that!

      I was reminded somewhere else that gratitude journals are great ways to remember how blessed we are. I thought about making one for myself and one for our family to record things we’re thankful for.

  8. great write! but difficult topic! living it out. . . . yet it’s so easy to forget that they won’t just pick it up because we’re thinking it. it’s a constant challenge for me to speak it and act it in ways that are meaningful to them and that they will actually pick up on. a call to intentionality, for sure.

  9. Great post but I can’t do it without rereading and rewording…

    • whimzie

      I did go back and change a word that I had used twice in one sentence. And I took seven minutes instead of five because I was right in the middle of a thought. But then I made myself not read it anymore because I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to change something else.

  10. Jen

    Celebration Station, they go every Monday night. Sean and I make two things clear 1. Mom and Dad need and use the same recovery program some of the scruffiest looking people use and 2. Just by being around all ages, sizes and backgrounds (homeless and abused children) Jack is figuring out that we have more than he thought.

    I still want them to “get it” so badly. I want me to get it. The other night we gave a guy from CR a ride home. Nice enough young guy and I said where do you stay? He started telling us what bridge downtown he had a tent under. It was pouring rain as we watched him run to his “home” He isn’t on the street pandering he is just homeless right now. I’ve been complaining about furniture being in the wrong place… Humbling

    • whimzie

      Oh, Jen, I love this! That’s a great idea. I’m pretty sure my church has a Celebration Station with our CR and I’ve been wanting to go to CR myself, anyway. I love the shirts Mom said she saw at CR Summit that say “I’m one of those people.” CR always reminds me that no matter what you look like or where you come from, our hurts, habits, and hangups are the same to God.

  11. So refreshing and good to see someone else thinking along the same lines {;o)

  12. Pingback: Teaching Gratitude: A Great Answer | Snoodlings

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