Teaching Children Gratitude Through Giving
Thanksgiving is an ideal time to share with your children what gratitude looks like. Even simple gestures can make a big difference. Someone’s life can be changed with just ONE word. Teaching children gratitude through giving and volunteering doesn’t require a lot of time or resources. These simple ideas are an excellent way to spend time with your children while teaching them the valuable lesson of gratitude and guiding them to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Spread Goodness Through Baking
Kids love to spend time in the kitchen, watching and learning how to make some of their favorite foods. Working together with your child to create simple, yummy baked goods provides them an awareness of the effort that goes into the food they eat. You ever notice how picky eaters become good eaters simply by being a part of the process. They learn to appreciate the food as they prepare it.
Cook and package up some delicious goodies. You and your “kitchen assistants” can then deliver them to many grateful recipients. Firefighters, police officers, nursing home residents, and those living in local shelters will all appreciate these thoughtful offerings.Your little ones will be able to see, first-hand, how even these humble gifts evoke a true feeling of thankfulness.
Create Helpful Bags For the Homeless
Homelessness is an epidemic and so very sad. It’s difficult for anyone living on the street to find much to be thankful for. Creating “Heart for the Homeless Bags” with your children is a great way to brighten their lives while teaching your kids about gratitude.
These handy collections of everyday items can mean a lot to someone who has nothing. Items you can put in your bags include toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products, and deodorant. Snacks can also be included – energy bars, pre-packaged cheese and crackers or peanut butter and crackers. These are the everyday items that we take for granted, but would be a HUGE blessing to someone who doesn’t have them readily available.
If you are able to include a small amount of money like a five-dollar bill, that will definitely be appreciated. Take these bags with you whenever you go out, and if you spot a homeless individual, grab a bag and hand it to them to sow a seed of love into their forgotten lives. Teaching compassion by example and seeing the thankful expressions of the recipient’s faces can make a big impact on your children.
Write Up a Gratitude List
One project your children can work on individually is to write up a Gratitude List of things they are thankful for. To make it more interesting, make it an “A to Z” list. They might really have to think to come up with items for every letter. Once they are done and look back at their list, they may appreciate those items even more.
BONUS: After you have the list complete you can download and print this free Thankful Tree to transform your gratitude into an artistic expression.
Cleaning Up While Brightening Lives
Another activity that your children can do on their own is to go through their toys and clothing for items to donate to less fortunate children. Shelters and hospitals are always grateful for these kinds of donations. The act of giving will provide your children with a sense of pride, knowing that they helped another child whose Gratitude List probably isn’t as long as their own.
Create Beautiful Cards
If you have any would-be artists in your family, put that creativity to good use and brighten the life of someone they don’t even know. Design and make holiday cards for those who may not otherwise receive any. It is a fun way to teach respect and compassion. Your final products can be sent to nursing homes,hospitals, or to servicemen and women stationed away from their homes during the holidays.
Lifelong Lessons in Giving and Gratitude
These are just a few ways of teaching children gratitude through giving and volunteering. Your community may have food banks or soup kitchens that accept volunteers and some may have positions for children, depending on their age. When your children learn to appreciate what they have and to help others along the way, their lives will be even richer. Whether it’s something they made themselves or the gift of their time, when people give of themselves to others, they get an even bigger gift in return! And isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?
What are some ideas that you have used to teach gratitude to your kids?