Pat Lamb, Educator and Author
“O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.”
– Ps. 30:12
Recently, while visiting the family of our youngest son, our three-year-old grandson wanted to play with my iPad. As I helped him wiggle his little warm body up on the couch and pulled him in close, I bent down and kissed him on the top of his head. I was surprised when he quickly reached up his little hand and gave me four soft little love pats on the front of my shoulder. I was so thankful for him, and I knew he was thankful for me. I was feeling glad for the technology that allowed me to take videos of him and his brother, so he could watch and enjoy them.
Attitudes are caught more than taught. The attitude of thankfulness is fostered in children in at least three ways. Those ways are experiences, experiences and experiences!
Experiences in the home are probably the most influential in developing gratitude. It starts with the parents realizing that children are a gift from God and being truly thankful for them. Children can sense through tone of voice, touch, words and actions whether those around them are truly appreciative of their belongings. It is uncanny how children understand the feelings of adults, and, whether we like it or not, these attitudes transfer to children.
When children experience contact with others who have less than they, they are reminded to be thankful for their own conveniences and pleasures. Recently a group of young people from our church told about their mission trip to Alaska. Almost without exception, as each teen spoke, that teen mentioned how much they appreciated what they had after seeing how the people in Alaska were living.
To actually experience doing without the conveniences we tend to take for granted is certainly a good way to make us grateful for what we have. A short time ago, I attended drug court in our county at the invitation of one of my former GED students. Upon arrival, we immediately noticed people standing around in the hall and were told that the security machine was not working because the electricity had gone off at the court house. The courtroom was very dark and crowded. Lack of air conditioning had forced some into the hallway to get some fresh air. When the electricity finally came on, everyone clapped and cheered. They suddenly appreciated what they had been without.
We are commanded to give thanks for what God has given us. If we can instill a thankful attitude in our children, they will be more content with what they have. A contented person does not always long for more and more. An appreciative person can more genuinely give praise to our Creator. As we set a good example of thankfulness, and ensure experiences that show our children what it means to be without, we will instill a spirit of gratitude that will last a lifetime.