Raising Thankful Children

Thankful table

Growing up, most of us were taught to be thankful for what we had. For many of us, saying “thank you” was just as important as saying “excuse me” or “yes, ma’am.”

If you grew up in the South, that was especially true for you! But beyond saying the words themselves, how do we teach our children to be truly thankful people? It starts by modeling real thankfulness.

Give Thanks Before a Meal

Giving thanks before a meal is a great place to begin. After your prayer, explain everything that had to come together to make that meal happen.

Talk about the plants and animals grown and harvested, the packing and shipping processes that delivered these goods to the store, the store clerks and workers who received it and put it out on display, the resources you needed to purchase the food, and all the time and effort to make the meal and set it out for them to enjoy.

Maybe you could say something like, “When we thank God for our food, we remember all that had to happen to bring it to our table.”

Teach Thanks through Giving

Believe it or not, when we teach children to give, we also teach them to be thankful for what is given to them.

Take your children to a local food bank or homeless shelter. Let them serve on the food lines and clothing giveaways. Let them see firsthand the needs of this world and provide opportunities for them to serve.

And, don't just leave it there, take the time to explain why you are serving. Tell them the stories of Jesus feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and caring for the needs of the poor. Children are never too young to learn this, and you’ll be surprised at how much they understand!

I know these seem like simple suggestions, but believe me, actually following through on them is hard work! Creating thankful people takes time and it takes effort, but because of this time and effort, you are raising up a generation who truly understands what it means to be thankful.

Zachariah Seanor is the Royal Ambassadors, Challengers, and Youth on Mission consultant at national WMU.


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