As both ancient and modern-day prophets will tell us, gratitude is a principle that brings happiness and peace. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin once said that gratitude “is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of this virtue, there is happiness.” We want these beautiful blessings for our children and the young ones we’ve been given a charge to teach and nurture. How can we help them feel and express gratitude for God and the blessings He gives us? Try one of these three simple ideas.
Express Gratitude Yourself
Children will watch and emulate your behavior. Try to get in the habit of expressing gratitude yourself, especially for the small, daily things. Examples could be saying something like, “Heavenly Father has given us such a beautiful, sunny day!” or “I love having dinner together! I’m grateful for our family.” Most importantly, find ways to show you are grateful for your children and what they do. Affirm your love for them through both words and actions; try to notice the good they do and thank them for it.
Give Thanks in Prayer
One of the most powerful ways to grow in gratitude is through prayer. The sacred nature of prayer allows us to receive revelation and connect more intimately with God. Children are more in tune with this process than you may think. Pray daily as a family and make sure to offer thanks each time. You may also want to try helping your children to make a list for their personal prayers of good things that happened to them throughout the day that they’d like to include in their prayer. This will help them get in the habit of looking for God’s blessings.
Allow for Both Pain & Praise
Just like adults, children experience hard times. Teaching them to recognize the hand of God in their life is most important for when trials come. When your child has a bad day or is facing a challenge, consider setting aside a time to be with them. Set a timer and let them express their pain and talk about it however they’d like until the timer goes off. If your child is especially sensitive, give them more time if they need or wait for a moment to switch mindsets. Then, ask your child to try very hard to think of things they can learn from what they’re experiencing. Have them list off what they still have to be grateful for. We can experience both pain and praise for God at the same time. An activity like this one can be the first step to learning this principle.
How do you teach your children to have a grateful heart? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.