Several weeks ago we began talking about trusting more and how in order to trust more, we need to know what truth is. There are very few places in our lives where knowing what Truth is becomes so important as when guiding our children in the way they should go. We have been spending some time in a mini-series on Helping Our Children Walk in Truth, and so far have covered our own walk of faith and the image we present to our kids, as well as fun ways to incorporate Truth into each day. To tie up this mini-series, I wanted to talk today about Instilling a Thankful Heart in Our Kids: 6 Tips from Colossians.
3. Instill in them a thankful, joyful heart.
This goes beyond please and thank you, though that is a good start. 🙂 Modeling thankfulness even in hard times will help set them up for success in the future. Helping teach our children how to cope with difficulties and have a positive outlook will not only help them throughout their entire lives, but it will also make things easier at home while they are young.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Let me start by saying, I’m unworthy to talk about this topic. While I believe our daughter has a grateful, joyful heart and attitude, I can’t always say the same for her mama. :/ I would love to sit here and write about how successful and awesome I am at always being thankful and grateful in all circumstances, but this series is on Truth and Trust so it’s probably important to be truthful, huh? 😉
Well, the truth is that I easily forget how blessed I am. How I am surrounded by good things and often fall into the trap of focusing on the few not-so-good things. I really dislike that about myself. What I dislike more is this worry at the back of my mind that our daughter will become all the things I dislike about myself. That’s why I know instilling a thankful heart in our kids can’t begin with me and what I believe I can do, but has to rest safely in what God has promised to do.
“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.” Isaiah 54:13
That verse helps me pause when I get too caught up in my own insufficiency and reminds me of Christ’s over-abundant sufficiency. One book of the Bible that I love to look to for expressing the true fullness of God is Colossians. There is a wealth of information on raising a household in the Lord in this book, but for now we’ll concentrate on these six verses.
- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 In order to let peace rule in our hearts and to teach our kids to do the same, we have to be filled with Christ’s peace which only comes from spending time with Him. Regular time in God’s Word is always the most crucial step.
- “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 Support and supplement that time in the Bible with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. There are many great Christian songs on the radio, but if you don’t have one, invest in a hymnal. The old hymns are not only beautiful but they have a lot of depth that can help in our children’s understanding of our loving Father. Songs like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” teach them how to rely on Christ in hard moments so they can have a joyful, thankful heart even through the struggles of life.
- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
Kids are able and often eager to help at a young age. Help them understand that our service and work is an offering to God and just as Cain’s offering was turned away because of his heart, work done begrudgingly will not be shown favor in God’s eyes. This teaches humility, along with a serving and grateful heart.
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
I covered this in more detail in 3 Simple Ways to Inspire Your Child’s Prayer Life, but also want to add that devoting ourselves to prayer teaches our children the value of persistence and demonstrates that we want to actively seek a relationship with God. Journaling your prayers and teaching them to do the same is an incredibly effective tool for imparting thankfulness to our kids.
- “Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
Be quick to offer forgiveness to your children, teaching them how to say they are sorry, to ask for forgiveness, and to make a plan to do things differently next time. Be sure to also do each of these things if you are the one in need of forgiveness! This teaches kids how to correct mistakes and not to dwell in them. Living in shame or punishment will only serve to discourage and embitter them.
- “And over all other virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14
Providing a stable environment full of laughter, second (or more) chances, and lots of love rituals shows our children we are thankful for them and that they are a blessing to our lives. This alone will go a long way in terms of instilling a thankful heart in our children.
For additional ways to encourage thankfulness in both your own life and the lives of your children, check out these articles:
Four Ways to Build Character in Kids
Thanks and Giving (10 Ways to Thankfully Give)
Step 5 of 6 in the Waiting
The Best Gift You Can Give Your Children this Christmas
3 Holiday Volunteering Ideas with Kids (Even Toddlers!)
How do you encourage thankfulness in your household?
Till next time. <3