Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread - Proverbs 30:8

Monday, November 11, 2013

Teaching Children the Importance of Gratitude

A couple years ago I began a habit that has transformed my way of thinking. I'd go so far as to say it has transformed my life. Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I began listing gifts each day. Naming them one by one. Counting the blessings God brings into my life on a daily basis. 

Some of the gifts are beautiful ~ flowers, sunsets, mountain views and rain.

Some of the gifts are heart-warming ~ hugs, smiles, words of encouragement and drawings from my girls.

Some of the gifts are hard ~ cancer, broken relationships, pain and misunderstanding.

But all of the gifts are worthy of thanks. Because even in the hard, beauty can be found and thanks can be given. Living a life full of thanks is one of the legacies I'd like to leave my children.

Be Joyful always
Pray continually
Give thanks in all circumstances
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Over the years I have taken various approaches to cultivate and nurture gratitude in my daughters' hearts. Sometimes it's as simple as asking at dinner, "What are you thankful for today?" and having each family member list one thing from the day.

Also in years past I've had the girls make thankful books or thankful journals during the month of November - a place where they intentionally record what they are thankful for. We love going back through our collection each year - looking back and remembering all we were thankful for.

This year we are doing things a little differently. I printed out these leaves from Ann Voskamp. Each leaf has a Bible verse that has something to do with giving thanks to God. Each morning we read the verse, talk about it and then turn our leaves over and write one thing we are thankful for. And then they hang in our window - in the school room - as reminders of how we are blessed beyond measure.

There are other visual reminders in our house as well. The words "give thanks" adorn the walls and mantel. Hopefully, these gentle reminders will leave lasting impressions on all of our hearts and souls, not only during the month of November, but all throughout the year.

One other idea I have and want to try this year is to make a thanksgiving playlist. We all love our Christmas music during December, and I even have a handful of songs I love to listen to around Easter. Why not compile a playlist of songs that focus on giving thanks and play them regularly during the month of November?

What do you do to cultivate gratitude in your lives?


  1. Thank you for that link! I love that they are already made :)

  2. There are so many great ideas out there now that I wish I had when my kids were younger. If I tried to do the leaves with my daughter now, she would probably roll her eyes at me! But in all honesty, I feel that my kids are pretty grateful. We have spent a lot of time over the past few years learning more about Compassion and how little those kids have compared to what we have. My son is working full time and sponsoring his own Compassion child. Warms a mom's heart :)

  3. LOVE, LOVE LOVE this post...