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familybaby blackwhiteWe aren’t born grateful. It is something we have to learn. The quicker they learn, the happier they will be.

A child when fully taught will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40) Here are five tips to help you create a thankful family. Hint: The key is parental participation.

1. Start early and model the behavior you wish to see.
A child as young as 12 months begins to parrot their parent’s behavior. Be a role model of the actions you desire to see in your child. This is training your child in an action before they really understand the concept.

When you ask your child for something or to do something, say please and thank you. It might even seem like a game, but they are catching on. This modeling stage will last forever with other steps being layered on.

You are your child’s example in the same way Jesus is our example. As they grow, you will be able to show them that the behavior you are modeling for them comes from the example Jesus gave to us and point them to Him.

2. Train them through traditions and everyday events.
We always have everyone say one thing they are thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner still to this day. Some families do this weekly. As you constantly use 'please' and 'thank you' in your home you will see your children start to use them on their own.

When we would stop for ice cream, especially when we had all six, the peer pressure was on. They were in a contest to see who was first to say thank you. As the kids start to use them on their own it becomes part of their nature more and more.

3. Help them put action to their words.
Once they begin to pick up the vocabulary of thankfulness, it’s time to give them opportunities to act on it as well.

Help them write thank you notes. Have them write notes or call Grandparents (and people in general) to thank them for gifts.

A call or personal visit is good because it helps them to express themselves verbally.

Don’t overlook even small reasons for thank you notes to teachers, Sunday School teachers, friends, and others. It’s important that you explain why we write the letters or give a call. Don’t just tell them to do it, but explain what God’s Word says and what a blessing that person is in their life. At this stage, don’t leave the little ones out; let them scribble and be a part. Write the interpretation below the scribble.

4. Help your child to be thankful to God.
In addition to being thankful to those around us, we need to train our children to give thanks to God. It’s not enough just to tell them to do it because mom and dad do. We need to walk them through the process of why. When they are very young, tell them what God has done for them. Even before they fully grasp the concept, they will note the behavior and the words.

This means you need to thank God as a family, as well. Thank Him for who He is and what He has done. Tell your children about the answered prayers and blessings.

The Bible says in Psalm 100:4-5 that we are to approach God with thanksgiving and praise. In Psalm 107:22, we read where we are to give thanks and to offer and tell of His works with songs of joy.

5. Build on the foundation you have established.
Continue to build on the foundation you have set in the previous steps as your child grows. As they are able to grasp more concepts, this leads into how they accept Jesus as their Lord, learn about the Holy Spirit and develop their relationship with God.

The concept of gratefulness is not merely polite or good for one time a year, it’s foundational in our faith walk.

At every age and stage bring another concept in. Talk about praise and show them the scriptures on it. This way they know that God inhabits praise and the power of their words. It leads into every other area of life.

Jesus grew in wisdom and favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). If He had to grow, so do we and so do our children! Don’t lose the momentum. Build on these lessons with your children.

Copyright © Joe McGee Ministries 
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Joe McGee
Web site: Joe McGee Ministries
Joe McGee, author, national conference speaker, father, and former school administrator, is the founder and director of Joe McGee Ministries, Inc. and Faith For Families Ministries.

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