The other day I walked into our kitchen to hear my 7-year-old daughter barking thankless orders to our Google Home Mini. I corrected her when she then turned to her sister and did the same. It dawned on me how thankless we can often be in a world with instant technology. What are some ways I can foster thankfulness in my children’s hearts (and my own!)?
Thank you kindly, Grati Tude
Dear Grati Tude,
Teaching children to be thankful is an ongoing challenge. It can seem like just when one area is developed, lack in another area is soon revealed. But sometimes seeing the lack is the best first step to growth. Here are several simple ways you may find helpful.
Of course teaching kids from an early age to say thank you and then requiring that they say it when served is foundational. Don’t feel bad requiring it of them. It is not that you constantly need to be thanked as their mother, but rather that you need to instill a thankful heart by helping them notice when they are being served. Continue to do this kindly as your children grow older. Extending that awareness of service beyond your home grows gratitude as well. “Did you see how Mrs. O cleaned up even after everyone had left? That was so kind of her. We need to tell her thank you.” “Have you ever realized how Mr. T is at every event for the youth group and how he loves the kids? Maybe you should tell him you appreciate that.” Helping kids notice others’ service will likely help them see a bit beyond their own noses. We all need help with that!
How about creating a thank you box or 3-ring binder filled with a variety of blank thank you notes, fun pens, stickers, and even postage stamps you keep on hand so children can easily write a thank you note or send a card of encouragement. Kids will take a bit more ownership if they can do it freely.
Finally, take the time to help children give thanks to God. Maybe on your rides to church occasionally, have everyone say 3 things they are thankful to God for. Use scripture verses of thanksgiving to daily thank God as the month of November approaches. Remember to thank God with your children when He answers prayers so they can see He is alive and active.
For good measure, you could even have your daughter say “Hey Google, thank you!” 😉
Thank you for your letter!
My family loves being outdoors. With another Midwest winter on its way, I am dreading coming indoors for months on end with the kids. Any tips to help me stay sane?
Mrs. Cooper Upton
Dear Mrs. Upton,
Suddenly being cooped up in a house when you are used to being active outdoors is not easy. Add to that the decreased sunlight and cold, dark nights and it can make anyone a little glum.
I might suggest taking stock in what you can do indoors to freshen up your spaces. Do you have a little corner that could turn into a cozy reading nook? Do you have a spare table that could be a winter tea party station? Safely light candles or add ambient lighting where rooms feel darker. Make a winter playlist on Spotify and add music to your home. For fun with children, let them build a blanket fort every once in a while (contingent on them cleaning it up fully). Do a family Lego build challenge. Have family game nights. Play Candyland with real candy. Have theme night dinners.
And don’t forget to still get outside. Our local metroparks are wonderful in every season, but especially beautiful with snow. Many parks (like Oak Openings) even provide shelters with complimentary fire wood on hand for which you can use to have a fire. This offers a memorable time even in the gloom or snow.