We tend to think of gratitude like a warm greeting card, a kind sentiment sent to someone special or a journal entry listing 5 things we’re grateful for.
Although gratitude certainly includes these things, it can also be more.
What if gratitude is a response of faith? A posture during times that aren’t easy? A trust in the Lord that goes beyond natural comprehension?
Find out how to teach gratitude to your kids and help your kids develop a deeper relationship with the Lord.
What Is Gratitude?
The word gratitude is not used in the King James Version (KJV) or New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.
That said, if we do some digging, we find that gratitude is defined in the 1828 dictionary as this:
- An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness.
- An agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor, and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy.
- A virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty.
If gratitude means thankfulness, thanks and thanksgiving and we go back to the greek meaning of the word thanks, it means to be grateful; to express gratitude towards.
Looking up scriptures with the word thanks, thanksgiving, or thankfulness, there are an abundance.
How To Teach Gratitude To Your Kids
Gratitude is a learned behaviour; it isn’t something that comes naturally.
One of the first things we as parents teach our kids is manners.
We prompt them to, “Say please!” or “Say thank you!” Or in our family’s case, I chose to teach using sign language first when they couldn’t speak words yet.
Now just because we teach our kids to say, “Thank you”, doesn’t mean they’ve connected the dots to know when to respond with gratitude. And though we’ve taught them doesn’t mean they’ll respond as they should. Gratitude an ongoing process of prompting and reminding.
Helping Our Kids Understand Gratitude
As our kids grow older and into the elementary years, we move on from prompting our kids to show gratitude, to helping them understand and show gratitude.
Teaching our kids gratitude comes as a result of not seeing our kids express it when we feel they should.
Kids can do what they’re told, but when they’re given an opportunity to show what they know and we don’t see it coming from them naturally, we teach. And this is where we can share the importance of gratitude helping them gain understanding. From there, we pray for gratitude to become a personal revelation as they get to know our Father more and more.
The World vs. The Bible
The world teaches gratitude, too. But is the world’s gratitude different than the Bible? Absolutely.
The difference? Biblical gratitude is about putting our eyes and our focus on Jesus instead of ourselves, others, things or the universe.
The world doesn’t recognize that it’s God who created and provides all the things for us to enjoy, experience and embark on.
Want to focus on the Bible verses that are related to gratitude, thankfulness and thanksgiving?
This 30-day Thankfulness scripture calendar may be helpful! It’s perfect for scripture writing, declarations and scripture memory.
We wouldn’t be on this earth if it wasn’t for God’s master plan.
In recognizing that God is Creator, we then also see our need for Him. He’s not just God; He’s Father, Lover, Provider, Sustainer, Healer, Deliverer, Redeemer, and so much more.
The Foundation Of Gratitude
The correct foundation is necessary. And as children of God, our foundation is built on the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s about Him being glorified and not ourselves, others, things or the universe.
We’re not just teaching our kids gratitude as a way of life to help them with a healthy and good habit and to be good people… gratitude is a spiritual discipline to help us grow and deepen our personal relationship with the Lord.
Why Is Gratitude So Powerful?
Jesus, being the Son of God is our example of how God provides so powerfully when we look to Him with gratitude.
And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of. Matthew 15:36-39 NKJV
What does Jesus do with what God has provided knowing it’s not enough in the natural? He gives thanks. He shares His gratitude to the Lord for providing in the midst of a challenge.
The kind of gratitude that’s in the Bible is also not about whether you’re looking at life from the negative or the positive, seeing the glass half-empty or half-full, what you have verses what you don’t have or seeing the bright side of things. No, in fact, gratitude is being able to thank God in the midst of hard and challenging times, which means Biblical gratitude doesn’t necessarily come as a result of something, but Someone. It’s about our dependency on Jesus and not ourselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,
…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
How Can I Express My Gratitude To God?
The ways that we can express our gratitude to God is by:
- proclaiming it
- worship and praise
- sharing our testimonies with others
- prayers and supplication
- giving offerings
- writing in a gratitude journal
- sending a card to someone
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. Psalm 26:7 NKJV
We don’t want to be thankful for something without recognizing the One who gave and provided. Otherwise gratitude is empty and void and becomes about about us, instead of God.
- Gratitude is not just saying thanks for the gifts and not recognizing the Giver.
- Gratitude is not just saying thanks for the healing and not recognizing the Healer.
- Gratitude is not just saying thanks for the money and not recognizing the Source.
How To Help Your Kids Grow In Gratitude
If there wasn’t an expression of gratitude towards our Father, we would have an entitlement mentality. We might find ourselves being prideful and arrogant lacking humility and our need for God.
To help our kids understand thankfulness and gratitude to God, first have them consider what surrounds their life. This is a natural way to help our kids. When they do this, they can begin to see God’s goodness – what He provides, how He creates, what He does when we don’t expect it, etc.
For example: looking around at nature is THE best way to begin with gratitude.
Have your kids complete these sentences:
“Thank You, Lord, for _______________________ because ______________________.”
“Thank You, Lord, that _______________________ because _____________________.”
Another way you can dig into gratitude with your kids is a gratitude Bible study designed for them!
Maturing in Gratitude
As kids continue their walk with the Lord learning gratitude and sharing what they’re grateful to Him FOR, ultimately, we want to help our kids progress in seeing that gratitude is deeper than being grateful for something. Gratitude that’s maturing learns that it’s about surrendering and yielding ourselves to God recognizing that without Him, we are nothing.
To help your kids dig deeper into the Word, grab the FREE Bible Study For Kids printable below:
There are different ways in how to teach gratitude to your kids, however, these are ways we’ve found that it develops over time.
I pray that your kids are deepening their relationship with God through the spiritual discipline of gratitude. May they experience Him in ways they haven’t before.
Anchored in Jesus,