November 12, 2019 | Lyn Cantrell
BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
Encourage your children to develop grateful hearts that bless others and frame their own perspective.
When children are very young, it’s easy to remind them to say, “Thank you,” but as kids grow, so does their need to say more than a quick thanks. Their challenge is to develop a thankful heart. The following ideas are intentional ways to help your children grow in the area of gratitude:
Nurturing Thankful Hearts
Over the years, I’ve pushed and pestered my kids to appreciate all that God has given them, but my tactics were mostly unfruitful and frustrating. That all changed when I encouraged my kids to practice gratitude with a Blessings Book.
I folded five pieces of copy paper in half and put a folded piece of construction paper around them for a cover. Once I’d stapled the spine, my children were able to title and decorate it.
At least once a week, they made an entry, describing a blessing, an answered prayer, happy news or a fun activity. I was surprised at how quickly the book filled up. This
simple activity helped my kids realize how blessed they are and cultivated thankful hearts.
My kids, ages 2, 7 and 9, say thank you routinely but do not often show their appreciation for someone’s character. So in November, we began writing three thank-you postcards per week to friends and family. We thanked a very sick friend for showing us what it looks like to be brave; their grandfather, who is a retired captain in the fire department, for demonstrating what it means to be selfless; and the kids’ teachers for their encouragement. My 2-year-old stamped hearts on the front of postcards. Then I wrote a thank-you postcard to my kids, including a collage of photos taken at each stage of our project. They were delighted to get it in the mail.
To help my kids show more appreciation to each other, my husband and I mounted whiteboards on each bedroom door. Anyone in the family could write on them, as long as the message was positive, such as notes of thanks or a Bible verse.
The boards gave my kids a new way to communicate. For example, if a sibling helped another with her chores, she could scrawl a quick note of thanks. It took a few reminders to get my children to use the boards. But this became a great way for them to show appreciation and encourage each other.
Being thankful can be fun. I wrote an appreciation note for each of my children, and they each wrote one for their daddy. We rolled up the notes and squeezed them into separate balloons. After inflating the balloons, we wrote each child’s name on his or her balloon.
The children popped the balloon with their name on it and read the note. One said: Brooklyn, when the kitchen was a mess, you asked if I needed help. Way to SERVE! Matching one of the children’s actions with the phrase “Way to___________!” helped my kids recognize the practical ways they had helped those around them. Once their daddy arrived home from work, the kids sprinted to give him his balloons. They found as much joy in showing appreciation as receiving it.