The month of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to cultivate a heart of thankfulness in our children.  With the remembrance of the pilgrims, and how God helped them through their trials, we can appreciate how much God has blessed us and thank Him for all He has done in our lives too!    Teaching Our Kids to be Thankful

Here are three great ways to practice being thankful this month.

1. Read and Learn From the First Thanksgiving.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember  your miracles of long ago.”                                                                                                                         Psalm 77:11 NIV


The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving

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Questions to Consider:

  • What problems did the pilgrims have when they moved to the new land?
  • In what ways did God help them and bless them on their first thanksgiving?
  • What would it have been like to live like the pilgrims?  Would it be harder or easier than how we live today?
  • What has God blessed us with today to make our lives easier than the pilgrims?
  • What can we be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

2.  Play Thankful Games
“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Ephesians 5:20 NIV

  •  At dinner, invite everyone to share three things in which they are thankful.
  • While driving, play a modified version of the alphabet game (I went to the store and bought…) Instead of thinking of food for each letter, say “I am thankful for…” and think of things you are thankful for with each letter. Each person has to remember all the previous ones and add a new one for the next letter.  Continue to play until you finish the alphabet.
  • Start a thankful book or journal as a family. Get a journal and write down all the amazing things God has done in your lives.  Go back and review and add to the list each year!  Say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the the ways God has helped and blessed your family.

3.  Turn Complaining into Thanksgiving.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault” Phillipians 2:14-15 NIV

“..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   1 These 5: 17-19

Remind your kids that complaining is actually the opposite of thanksgiving, and because we love God, we want to be thankful for all that He does for us.  It is far too easy for our kids to get into a habit of complaining.

To break the habit of complaining, try this family game, “Caught You in the Pot.” 

Explain to your family that whenever we begin to complain it’s like we are in a pot of boiling water.  We are upset, and we feel like letting off some steam by complaining, but all that hot water can make the rest of the family feel hot and get them boiling too.  Jesus wants us to “cool off” and remember that He will help us to let go of our frustrations and be thankful.

To play the game, each family member must be on the look out for a complaining heart.  If you hear a family member complaining (more than a one time remark that quickly passes to a cheerful spirit) then tell them “I caught you in the pot!”  Then the person who is caught complaining must apologize and think of three things to be thankful for.  If your child is not ready to apologize, the next step is to go to his room to “cool off” and pray for God to help him. It may be beneficial, if your child is feeling really down, to empathize with your child first and let him know that you understand he is frustrated and give him a hug.  This will help your child to know he has been heard.  But if he is still not ready to apologize and be thankful, you can have him go to his room and pray.  Go with your child if he is young and/or not used to praying on his own.  Having him confess to God and ask Him for help to be thankful will teach your child how to rely on God. Once your child is ready to be thankful, you can have him come out of his room and tell three reasons he is thankful.

Here is an example:  If your child complains about being bored, say, “I caught you in the pot!”  If your child does not quickly turn around and apologize and think of three things he is thankful for, then say something like this.  “I know you feel bored right now, and I understand you are frustrated that you are not able to do what you wanted.  What do you think Jesus wants you to do right now? (wait for answer)  Let’s apologize and think of three activities or toys you are thankful for!  Then you can choose one of those to play with!”

Finally, remember that we are our children’s number one influence, so we need to check OUR hearts and see if WE have had a complaining or thankful attitude in our home. If we demonstrate a thankful heart in our own lives, even through trials, then we can change the spirit of our home from a place of grumbling and complaining to a home full of thankfulness and gratitude.

For a free devotional on thankfulness to do with your children, click here

Would love to hear from you!  Scroll down to leave a comment about how you encourage thankfulness in your family.