How Do You Explain Thankfulness to Your Kids?


I have created a few fall DIY projects for around our home. The one I am most excited about is our “Thanksgiving Tree”. Its a take on the 30 days of thankfulness that spam Facebook every year. I strive really hard to make sure my children know the sacrifice their father makes and people who came before their dad and people who will come after their dad; including maybe them. But then we get into a slight issue that always makes explaining the definition of the words very hard. I was taught long ago, not to include the word you are defining in the definition. After I had children the questions of “w’ started to appear. Some are easy, and so are not. However, the problem I soon discovered was that with my children’s unique challenges explaining something to them they can not touch or see is harder than explaining the word. So how do you explain thankfulness to children? How do you explain it to children who do not understand anything than a tangible concept? For my “Thanksgiving Tree” idea to work, I first have to  explain what thankfulness is. And here we are on day 11 and I still can not come up with a formidable solution.

I looked around Google and Pinterest for some ideas for activities or speeches to give and nothing really popped out at me. However, as I was looking I realized a few things that did seem to help me.

1) Children are children. They are egotistical and self-centered. Eventually, by the grace of God, they won’t be. But until they learn by life lessons what thankful means, they will all be greedy little creatures.

I typically get upset and irritated by their “I want” attitudes. They seem to think owning some ridiculous toy on TV will fill their happy bubble for life, or until the batteries run out. But after accepting the realization that they are egotistical and self-centered, I realized their normal for now. Until they are able to comprehend a life outside of theirs is just as worthy as theirs, I must pat their egos and lead them down a path to one day have that self realization.

One way I can do that is being positive. I used to be a Eeyore, as my mom called me. Much of my life with gloomy and grey. Then one day I had my own self-realization (mine was at age 30, I hope my children’s is before that!). Every day was the way I made it; the way I saw it. I realized always yelling at my kids on my gloomy days was turning them into me. I saw their sad faces and their cracked hearts from my words and realized words hurt (another lesson that took me too long to learn). One day I stopped pointing out all the negative- “stop hitting your sister”, “be quite”, “your room looks horrible”. And I started pointing out the positive- “You are being so nice to your sister”, “great job using your inside voice”, “I’m so proud of you for cleaning your room”. Eventually, I started seeing the result. My children are complimenting each other, giving hi-5’s when they have good reports for school and cheering each other on when trying something new for dinner. Trust me, I am not perfect, and I still have those gloomy days. But the realization that they do actually listen and learn from you is astounding.

So I may not be able to teach them what thankfulness is today; but maybe in a few years, without some intellectual speech, they will discover the definition on their own. There is always the chance they never will. I accept that. It will be a hard lesson for me to learn; but I will love my children regardless of their understanding of thankfulness. I know that every day I am thankful for my children and their presence on this earth. Even if that includes gloomy days.

Found the following image circulating around Facebook today.

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