Helping Your Kids Learn Gratitude

Every word that came out of my kids mouths was negative. And if I really thought about it, I wasn’t doing much better myself. A couple years before this, my husband had mentioned that he felt like we should move to Colorado. My reaction? To put it mildly–I bit his head off. How could he think of such a thing!?! We had a home that we had spent countless hours on the landscaping; and we had just finished the basement. We had good friends! (I could go on and on.) Why would we leave?

With time, God softened my heart and I knew for some reason we needed to move to Colorado. Kevin began applying for jobs, but nothing happened until the recession hit us personally. Kevin was laid off. But the next morning, a job he had applied for months before in Colorado offered him a position. Kevin left immediately. I followed 6 months later. As I drove our car behind the U-haul, carrying all we owned, I cried and then cried some more.

I wish I could say the blessings of his job made everything better, but I was bitter. We had packed up and moved from a home we loved, to a small apartment. We had left behind family, friends, and belongings. In fact, we needed to get rid of more. Every cupboard, closet, or drawer had been filled, but boxes still lined the walls of our apartment. I had not downsized enough.

I missed my best friends and my kids missed theirs. But I was their mother and had to pull myself together to help them adjust. I realized that my negativity was affecting them. I prayed for help and the help came from an article in a magazine about creating ‘Gratitude Journals.’

For family night I gave each family member a notebook, pulled out colored paper, markers, glue sticks, stickers, and some magazines I had found. They went to work decorating the outside with things they loved. Then we each wrote or drew (if too young to write) at least three things we were grateful for and shared with the family. This became our nightly ritual to write what we were grateful for and share. We couldn’t repeat the same things each night, so we had to look for the good each day. Soon we had each made friends and we were falling in love with the area. I found the small apartment and less stuff freed me to enjoy my family and the area more.

We only lived in that area for a year, but many of my happiest moments came during that time. It just took changing our attitude to one of gratitude.

Bonus tips: I now combine the gratitude journal and my God journal. I always express gratitude to God multiple times in my letters.

I also recently learned to add “because” to my gratitude statements. For example: ‘I am so grateful my husband made the bed because it made me feel loved.’ It just adds a little more focus and thought to what you are grateful for and why.

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