My son loves pie. Pumpkin pie to be exact. As soon as the first leaf starts to fall the questions begin.
“Mom, did you buy a pumpkin pie?”
“Mom, do you think they have pie yet?”
“Mom, when are you going to buy a pie?”
As if pumpkin pie is the most important thing for his survival.
Finally the awaited day arrives. I return home with the coveted pie and whipping cream. It is consumed at an astonishing rate. I’m left with pie crumbs, a dirty plate, and a happy son. Wait a minute? What happened to his manners? A quick look and I get an enthusiastic, “Thank you mom.”
It is good that I require my son to say thank you for something I did. That’s parenting. Still, I’m beginning to think my approach is wrong. Instead of giving my children a formula for how to behave, I should be helping them grow a heart of thanksgiving.
What is P.I.E.?
P.I.E. is the acronym I created to help my children remember the three tools for growing a heart of thanksgiving: practice, instruction, and encouragement.
The best way to teach a child is through modeling or practice. When enduring hard times, let a child witness a heart of thanksgiving. Practice thankfulness daily. Thank God for His bountiful blessings while putting the groceries away. When a family member does something, no matter how simple, thank him. Start every meal by thanking God for providing the food, the person who earned the money for the food, and the person who prepared the food. Provide opportunity for each family member to share something he or she is thankful for each day. Have a child practice being thankful and it will grow into a habit.
Proverbs 19:20 says about instruction, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. (KJV)” It is important to instruct a child about what it means to be thankful and why that is important. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- Memorize scripture passages about thanks, thanksgiving, thankfulness.
- Read books, poetry, and articles about thankfulness or gratitude.
- Research the meaning of the roots of the word “Thanksgiving.”
The best resource for instruction in thankfulness is the Bible. These are my personal favorite scriptures about Thanksgiving: Psalms 100:4; Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:6; I Chronicles 16:34; Psalms 35:18; Psalms 79:13; I Thessalonians 5:18; Revelations 11:17.
Children thrive on praise. They learn to walk; we exclaim “Way to go!” They fall down; we say, “Get back up. Try again.” We are continually reinforcing our children’s natural inclination to learn with our praises. Growing a heart of thanksgiving is no different. We should encourage them with reminders to be thankful. Recognize when they show gratefulness. Encourage them to daily give thanks. When they neglect thankfulness, we should be there, giving them a gentle reminder. Growing a heart of thanksgiving takes time, patience, and praise, but it’s worth it!
Instruction is good; hands-on application is fantastic. Here are a few activities to help children retain the principles learned.
For the Youngers (Ages 10 and under)
- Thanksgiving Bracelets by Little Wonders’ Days
- Thanksgiving Tree by Our Homeschool Experiment
- Gratitude Pie Spinner by Simple Modern Mom
- Thanksgiving Banner by Carina Gardner
For the Olders (Ages 11+)
- Thanksgiving Journal by Kids Activities Blog
- Thankful Tweens from Examiner.com
- Practice Gratitude – write a letter to someone you are thankful for.
- Gratitude Calendar by eHow
- 15 Day Gratitude Challenge by Alluem Kids
For the Parents
- 5 Ways to Raise Thankful Children by Vincent DiCaro, Special to CNN
- The Mom Challenge: 7 Mini Challenges to make your kids thankful
- How to encourage your child to be grateful by Positive Attitudes
How do you help your children grow a heart of thanksgiving? Let us know.
Taunya’s family is learning at the speed life. Whether exploring the grandeur of God’s creation or cleaning up from one of the kids’ creations, there is never a dull moment. When home in the Pacific Northwest you can find her curled up reading with her kids, grateful for the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. When not busy being momma she enjoys scrapbooking, photography and chickens.