3 Ways to Instill Thankfulness In Our Children

Instill Thankfulness in child w logoOur oldest daughter was just shy of two years old.  We sat in my in-laws living room watching her amidst all the boxes, wrapping and bows.   It was so much fun to see her having so much fun.

The last present was deposited into her chubby little arms.  Her lips puckered pensively, trying to figure out where to open the package first.  With one swift pull she ripped paper down the side.   And there it was.  A beautiful toy, shiny in all it’s newness.

She stared briefly up at us, back down to her new toy, and then this word……...More? 

I was baffled.  The child had everything her little heart could want.  Piled around her were toys, clothes, coloring books and videos.

When she realized that “more” was not forthcoming she expressed herself as any child wanting more, does.   She leaned back and pitched an absolute fit!  Tears, snot, arms and legs were flying everywhere.  It was not a pretty site. (Excerpt From “Simplifying Christmas: 4 Tips To Simple Giving.”) 

After that year we decided a new strategy was in order.  Not only in our gift giving but in the lessons we were (or were not) teaching our daughter.  While a fit at two years old is never pretty, I certainly did not want to imagine the same fit at 12.

But it’s not just about teaching our children to be thankful at Thanksgiving time or grateful at Christmas time.  It’s about teaching and instilling a spirit of Thankfulness all year long.

So how do we practically do that?


barn childHere are three key ways we have worked with our children over the years to help instill a spirit of thankfulness.

  1.  Model Thankfulness – If we want our children to be thankful then we must model thankfulness.  Find opportunities throughout the day and week to express things YOU are thankful for.  It doesn’t have to be big things, even the smallest expression of thankfulness can be powerful.
  2. Give Opportunities to Express Thankfulness – Give your children opportunities to express thankfulness.  We do this in several ways:
    • Taking turns around the table to share one thing we are thankful for from our day.
    • While riding in the car asking them to share one thing they are thankful for from their day at school/co-op – Maybe a project went well or a friend encouraged them in some way.
    • Asking them WHO they are thankful for and why – this helps take the focus off themselves and helps them begin to think of others and the world around them.
  3. Serve Others-  Sometimes the greatest lessons in thankfulness is serving others.  Something powerful happens when we teach our children to look past themselves and care for those around them, especially those who are going through a difficult or challenging season.  Here are some things we have done as a family:
    • Make a meal for a family or individual walking through a difficult time and delivering it to their home.
    • Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or food pantry.

coffeeThere are many ways to help instill thankfulness in our children but ultimately it comes down to us as parents and caregivers.  We must lead the way consistently by modeling, giving opportunities and teaching our children to serve others around them.

As we gather this week around the table, let’s commit to making Thanksgiving more than one day on the calendar.  Let’s commit to making it an every day celebration of Thankfulness.


Now it’s your turn – What is One thing you are thankful for? Why? 

Returning To Live In Your Parents’ Basement…at 38

Returning ToLive In Your Parents Basement Simplified

You know, I didn’t actually dream of living in my parents basement at the age of 38.  We’ve all heard the jokes of the kids, now adults, who never leave the nest.  But what about those of us who leave the nest, are gone for 20 years and then return?

I will interject at this point that this arrangement is only temporary for our family.  It’s actually part of a larger plan, which is still unfolding.

The funny part is the look on people’s faces when I tell them where we’re living.  I can’t decide if it’s the look of pity or surprise, that fleets quickly across their face, that is most humorous.  Maybe it’s the hesitating questions that follow: Read more

Volunteer – Week #7

Volunteer with logo

WELCOME!  I am so glad you are here.  Every Wednesday I will be sharing (1) tip to help inspire you to lead a simpler life.  It won’t be anything hard or something I haven’t tried myself.  Living a simple life is a conscious choice made up of small steps every day.  So here is our small step for today.

Tip #7 – Volunteer

One of the things our family loves to do together is the chance to serve and volunteer in our community.  We go down to the local food bank as often as possible to help bag up groceries for our neighbors in need and last summer we had an awesome opportunity, along with our church family, to bless a local elderly lady by re-painting her house and adding a new roof.   It was a lot of hard work but so rewarding.

As we work to simplify our lives more and more, this is one area that we actually want to increase in.  From my experience, serving and giving always add to our lives in so many ways. Read more