Christmas is a wonderful season of the year. Unfortunately it is also a time when children focus on “I want” and “give me”. Recognizing blessings, and being thankful for them, is a learned characteristic trait. Today I’m sharing a list of blessings to be thankful for that you might not thought of.
Gratitude is one of my favorite character traits! I appreciate it when other people, especially children and teens, take time to thank someone who has done something nice for them. Today I’m sharing a few suggestions for showing gratitude. During the Christmas season, it seems we are all on our best behavior, maybe a little more kind to others. Gratitude is something that must be practiced throughout a lifetime. These suggestions are not only applicable to the Christmas season, rather all year long. Showing gratitude may be a great New Years resolution.
First of all, children must learn to recognize different acts of service that are being performed on their behalf. I pray often that I will be able to notice and appreciate other people and their goodness. I try to pray for this when I am praying with my children so they will hear me as I ask Heavenly Father for this ability. Hopefully they will also repeat the same plead in their prayers and try to develop this skill too. As we go about our day, I try to point out kindnesses that we see as they occur. When you watch, you will notice they occur all day long! Here’ a list of a few people or services your children might be able to express gratitude for!
- Friends who are a good example and who are kind. Your child could simply tell them thanks, or bring a few extra cookies to share at lunch time.
- School teachers spend countless hours and thoughts on behalf of their students. I know they get paid to teach, but I think it might be a little bit like being a mom and feel like a thankless job at times. I try to remind my children to tell their teacher thanks. At the end of the year I always encourage my child to write a thank you not to their teacher. In fact, I bet they would treasure a thank you note at Christmas more than an inexpensive gift. Perhaps a note could be attached to the gift.
- Don’t forget other role models who influence your child’s life. Think about all the extracurricular activities your child is involved in. Dance teachers (none of those at my manly house)? Sports coaches? Church leaders? Piano teacher? Scout leaders? Each time I pick my child after one of these types of activities I ask him, “Did you thank you coach/leader)?” If they didn’t I ask them to go back into the building and thank that person. It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about how many hours that person donates on your behalf. Sometimes, kids don’t recognize what is being done for them unless you point it out.
- My kids are supposed to thank the bus driver. After all, she is on time every day to give them a safe ride to and from school. Let’s face it, who wants to be shut in a confined area with that many loud kids for even a minutes, let alone an hour…five days a week?
- When we eat out, my children aren’t allowed to eat or drink their food until they thank the waiter/waitress.
- We live a long ways from anywhere. Seriously, it’s an hour to piano lessons, 20 minutes to sports practices and school. My neighbors and I carpool quite a bit. I appreciate them time they save by letting my kid tag along. When my child returns home from his carpool I ask them if they remembered to thank their driver. If they didn’t remember I have them make a quick phone call to thank them.
- Everyone travels more over the holidays. Families are going to grandmas, an aunts, or somewhere else. Hosting company is fun but can also be a lot of work! There are meals to be prepared, beds to be made, and entertainment to be planned. After we return from spending time in someone else’s home I try (I’m not always successful), to have our family each write a little message on a thank you note.
- Don’t forget the obvious notes written in appreciation for a material gift. This includes gifts such as a birthday present, dinner, or any other “thing”.
- There are so many casual exchanges of service that happen throughout the day. Exchanges that really should be followed by a quick and sincere “thank you”. Don’t forget that your children should thank parents, and parents should thank children, and siblings should thank each other. As they hear us appreciate them, they will learn to appreciate us. After I help my boys practice a spelling list or solve a dreaded math problem, they thank me. They thank me for a delicious meal, and for their packed school lunch. I’m still working on getting them to thank me for doing mountains of laundry every week and for giving them piano lessons. It might be twenty years before they appreciate that!
- I like to notice other people’s positive character traits. Is there someone in your life who is always cheerful, positive, helpful, smiling, includes others, generous, creative, a team player, or well mannered? This is my very favorite kind of thank you to either say or write! I LOVE writing these because I’m thanking people for being themselves! And for being wonderful! A good friend once told me that a person will become exactly what you tell them they are. If you write a thank you note to a person letting them know that you noticed that they always include other people and are very kind in this way. They will likely try even harder to be that person. Besides that people don’t usually expect to get thank you notes in the mail because you noticed they opened the door for someone, that you think they are a gentleman, and that you appreciate their example. By helping your children to be aware of this form of gratitude you will help them have a desire to develop these same traits. We all want that!
- Last, but not least. A while ago I read a story about a family that had lost a very close loved one. The family’s ecclesiastical leader suggested the family pray and only utter things they were grateful for. They were encouraged to refrain from asking God for anything at that time. Can you imagine? They reported that the experience was life changing and blessed their family. I would like to encourage you to use this same form of “gratitude prayers” at least once a week. We truly have been blessed!
Gratitude its self is a beautiful characteristic trait that our family is constantly trying to develop. In today’s world there are so many people who believe they are entitled to something, which leads them to be very unappreciative of what they have been blessed with. I’m happy that there are also many, many people who are very grateful for even the simplest of blessings. Gratitude minded people are happy people!