Instilling Thankfulness in Our Children

Our kids today have access to a lot of luxuries. We send them to schools equipped with textbooks and tablets. We fill their bedrooms with toys and crafts and novels designed to entertain and educate. We take them shopping when they outgrow their jeans and snow boots, we feed them three meals a day, we treat them to ice cream and movies and trips to the trampoline park.


Compared to many other populations in the world, our children are abundantly loved and provided for. But do they realize it?


The risk of giving our children everything they need and much of what they want is that they could come to view this provision as their right rather than a privilege. As parents we can and should help our kids develop a heart of gratitude for their blessings, material and otherwise. Here are some ways to do just that.


Give to others. Grateful people are generous people. When we appreciate all we have, we’re more likely to pay it forward as a way of thanking God for our blessings. Cultivate this type of grateful giving in your family by participating in a charity campaign that’s meaningful to you, such as Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, World Vision and so on. Or give your time volunteering to help an elderly neighbor with yard work or watching a single mom’s children for an afternoon. Opportunities to give to others are bountiful not just this time of year but all year round.


Go without. Sometimes the best way to appreciate what we have is to experience life without it. Spend a weekend without phones, computers or television. Challenge the kids to give up their toys for a week. Purge your closets and give gently used clothes and other belongings to others in need. If you dare, choose one night a week to turn off the electricity and live by candlelight like in the “olden” days. By sacrificing the comforts we take for granted, we can develop a new appreciation for them—and for the God who gave them to us.


Say thank you. We teach our kids to say please, thank you, excuse me and you’re welcome. But gratitude goes far beyond good manners. A simple “thank you” can validate another person—especially the ones we love best. Why not say “thanks” to your husband for mowing the lawn? Thank your children for obeying your instructions to put on their shoes. Thank your family for playing a board game together on a Friday night. Tell them you value your time together. Speak gratitude to the people around you, and you will foster a heart of gratitude in their own lives as well.


Count your blessings. This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, create a thankful tree and encourage the whole family to get involved. Create a tree trunk and branches from brown paper, then cut several leaf shapes out of colored paper. On each leaf, write something you’re thankful for. Tape the leaves to the tree and display your creation in a central area of the house where all family members can see it. Continue adding more leaves as you think of more and more blessings. Make this an annual celebration of thankfulness in your home!


From all of us at Faithgirlz, we wish you a Thanksgiving season filled with gratitude!

Are you raising an encourager?

Did you know yesterday was National Day of Encouragement? In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the apostle Paul tells the church to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Encouragement was God’s idea! That’s why we ought to be instilling it in our children. Here’s how.


Point your kids to Jesus. Encouragement starts in the heart, and the only way to fill a heart with good things is by inviting Jesus to dwell within it.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).


Teach them to think of others. It’s tough to encourage someone else if all you’re doing is thinking about yourself. Establish an environment of humility and generosity in your home. Serve others. Pray for others. Show your kids that caring about other people is important and fun. Then they will be primed to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4).


Practice encouraging words. Compliments and kudos may not come naturally to every child. Make a habit of speaking encouraging words in your family so these types of conversations become ingrained in their character. For example, at dinner time, have everyone go around the table and say something nice about the person sitting on their left. Talk about the troubles or successes the kids are having in school and nudge siblings to voice their support.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).


Be your child’s cheerleader. The best way to teach encouragement is by giving encouragement. Tweens in today’s world are up against a lot of discouraging voices and ideas. Be the safe place where your kids will hear truth—that God created them, values them, and loves them no matter what. And so do you.


“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19).

Teaching Kids to Be Servants at Heart

Today is International Day of Charity, a day to focus on serving others less fortunate. As Christians, serving others is a key aspect of our faith. We don’t serve others to earn God’s favor; we serve others because God’s favor already rests on us—and we’re eager to share His generous love with the world.


Are you teaching your kids to cultivate a heart of service? Here are some practical ways you can encourage them to love and serve others.


Be on the lookout. Opportunities to serve are everywhere. We just need to open our eyes to see them. Do you see someone sitting alone in the lunch room? Invite her to join you. Do you see a woman pushing a stroller through a store entrance? Hold the door open. Did a classmate drop all his books in the hall? Help him pick them up. Acts of service don’t need to be big projects in order to count. Developing a lifestyle of service involves noticing and responding to the little needs around you.


Team up. Gather a group of friends or neighbors to form a service club. Choose one project a month and tackle it together, such as picking up trash around town, watching younger kids for a single mom, collecting goods for a food drive, and so on. Serving together is a great way to build relationships while putting your faith into action.


Adopt a cause. As a family, choose one charity to support year-round. Maybe it’s sponsoring a child overseas, praying regularly for a missionary family from your church, donating used clothing to a local homeless shelter, or volunteering in Sunday School. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a cause that has meaning to your family, then rally the whole crew around it.


Tithe. Encourage your kids to give a portion of their allowance to a worthy cause. While giving time is an important part of serving, giving money can also help teach kids that the world does not revolve around them, and God wants them to share with others.


For more information on International Day of Charity, visit


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