THE ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
by Sally Burgess, Forefront families
As we approach Thanksgiving each year we pause to thank God and one another for our many blessings. We express our thanks for our families, our good health and for the privilege of living in a free country, amongst many other things. Yet, I wonder why we often forget to be thankful all year round?
When are we most grateful for something? I suggest that gratitude is most readily expressed when some major discomfort has been diverted, or when we can’t help ourselves and someone comes to our rescue. We were shopping at the market one day when Brian saw an elderly lady having a problem starting her car. Half an hour later, and with a small gathering of men all offering advice under the hood, the car finally started. I saw the look on the old woman’s face as she rested her head on the steering wheel in absolute relief. “You are a Godsend”, she told Brian.
How do we teach our children to show they are grateful? We need to model it. We need to show them how and when to say thank you for small things. I have often heard people in restaurants say to the waiter, “Give me some water.” It is a command, not a request. There is no ‘please’ or ‘thanks’ offered for the service. Kids learn from adults. We need to show them how to be grateful for every kindness offered.
Our kids need to realize the value of what they have and to be taught how to look after it. During the Great Depression, when people barely had the money to survive, the value of their possessions rose dramatically in their own minds. One doll or one toy soldier became of utmost value to a child during those hard times because it was the only toy they had. It is very difficult for kids these days to understand value and gratitude when they are regularly showered with large quantities of ‘stuff’. All they understand from this situation is a ‘Santa Clause-type parent’ with no financial restrictions and an adult who will give them whatever they want.
There are several sure ways to teach your kids how to be grateful.
a) Demonstrate gratitude. Children will automatically follow your lead. Let them see you thanking others for their kindness or for services rendered. Let them hear you talk about your gratitude toward others.
b) Show your children gratitude. They feel great when you tell them how much you appreciate the way they looked after little sister in the market, or took the dog for a walk, or gave Mommy breakfast in bed, or did their homework without being reminded. Being recognized for doing a good job has a profound effect on anyone, big, or small.
c) Teach them to look for ways to help others. Kids need to see others’ needs and offer to help or get help. It is not all about us. It is about looking after the needs of others. This is teaching them to be outward focused.
d) Stop being Santa Clause. Don’t give children stuff every time you go shopping. They learn to expect it. Cut the Christmas wish list down to 3 items each. Have them buy little gifts for one another so they understand the value of the gift they paid for. By giving to others they will also experience the pleasure of making someone else happy.
Gratitude is a wonderful attribute to teach your family and one Jesus clearly taught us – ‘In all things give thanks’. (2 Thes 5:18).
If you have any comments, questions or success stories to share on this subject, please contact us at email@example.com, and check our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org, and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com