Is it possible to practice thanksgiving everyday with your kids – not just on November 24?
I’m happy to say the answer is YES!
Why is gratitude so important anyway?
Over and over in the Old Testament, we read about the ingratitude of the people of Israel and the trouble it got them in. It was the sin of grumbling which kept them out of the promised land (Numbers 14:26-29).
In Psalm 107:10-16, we read that “some sat in darkness, in utter darkness…because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.”
Instead of being grateful to God, the children of Israel took matters into their own hands and despised the plans of God.
They eventually cried to the Lord in their trouble (v. 13) and He saved them from their distress. The key is found in verse 15, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind.”
Even when you find yourself in challenging circumstances, you can give thanks to God for His unfailing love. There is always, every day, no matter what is happening, a reason to breathe thanks to God.
When we believe this, it changes our attitudes, thoughts, and words. We complain less and we appreciate more.
Our children can catch this everyday thanksgiving way of life, and we can also teach them to be thankful.
Read Psalms of thanksgiving at the breakfast table. Tell stories about what God has done for you at dinnertime. Read biographies of faithful men and women who fought for freedoms we enjoy today so we can be more grateful for our country.
Here are a few other things you can do with your kids (find more ideas in my book Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World):
Be a Good Neighbor – Bake cookies or brownies for your neighbors just because. Attach a note of appreciation “Thanks for being a great neighbor!” and have your children sign it. Deliver the cookies together and make sure your children see how the neighbors respond.
Operation Christmas Child – Have your kids pack a shoebox with toys, soap, and other useful items for a child around the world who won’t be getting much else for Christmas. It’s a wonderful outreach of Samaritan’s Purse. Our family has always enjoyed putting together the shoeboxes and who knows how it will change the life of a child in need when given in Jesus’ name?
Write a Treasured Note – Have your child think of someone important in his/her life: a teacher, coach, pastor, or relative. Have him/her complete this sentence in the note: You have made a difference in my life because ____________________.
Keep a Gratitude Journal – Have your child write up to five things they are grateful for each day. At the end of the week, have your child read the list aloud to the family.