Teaching gratitude to our children can seem overwhelming in the frantic pace of the Christmas season. Yet, with the Christmas season upon us, we all want to be grateful, to remember our gifts and to share those with others, especially our children.

After all, isn’t gratitude why we give presents and wrap packages all hours of the night, sing carols, bake cookies and write that annual Christmas letter?

In the rush and hurried pace of the holiday season, let us remember why we celebrate in the first place.

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Living a lifestyle of gratitude that we instill in our children can come to us this season in simple ways as we give thanks for Love coming down as a baby in a manger. Teaching our children to express gratitude throughout the holidays is a key to their happiness and development as they grow.

Author of the best seller One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp, shares these six common traits of children who are grateful:

  1. They have better attitudes
  2. They will better achieve personal goals
  3. They will form closer relationships with greater happiness
  4. They will achieve better grades
  5. They will be filled with greater energy, attentiveness and enthusiasm
  6. They will be filled with greater sensitivity

Practicing gratitude helps raise amazing children!

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“After her research on gratitude and children, the author poses: Why does gratitude do all of this — how can it, really? Because we were made to live in gratitude to God, giving glory to God. We were made to live in a posture of grateful worship, and when we live in praise, we live our purpose, and all the pieces fall in place, us all falling down in thanks.”

Aren’t those grateful traits in our children some of the best presents we can ever receive as parents? This Christmas season, try these simple things to help foster gratitude in your children:

* Write, color and create thank you cards together. Even before the obligatory gift thank you cards, send some “thank you for being you” just because cards.
* Serve together at a homeless shelter or at your church.  Even the youngest of children can help assemble make-ahead holiday meals. Just last month, our eight year old son and his friends joined with a team of our church friends to pack 1,000 meals for a local charity.

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* Count your blessings and cover a wall, window or chalkboard with sticky note praises of gratitude.
* Read beautifully illustrated Bible stories together, like my favorite, the amazingly poetic and playful prose of the Jesus Storybook Bible. It weaves the stories of old in with the promises of grace and gratitude. It may become your family’s favorite book.
* Teach your children the prayers of your youth, and start some new prayers for them. Don’t know where to start? Grab a devotional book together like Jesus Calling for Kids.
* Start a family gratitude journal or basket full of shells, stones or popsicle sticks where you write your thanksgiving together on a regular basis.
* Practice random acts of kindness, each day.  Buy the person behind you a coffee at Starbucks or their meal at your favorite restaurant. Go out of your way to deliver something to eat to a homeless person on the street corner and get out to pray with them and share a moment. This random acts of kindness calendar will help you each day of the month with simple activities like sharing cards with a nursing home or filling a bag of books to donate to the library or toys to donate to charity.
* Count the days until Christmas while counting your blessings with an advent calendar or by making a Jesse Tree. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Phil. 4:8

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Whatever tools or ways you help teach gratitude to your children, may this be the most joyful Christmas season yet because of the grateful children you are raising. We aim to give our children the best education, even from a young age. Isn’t focusing on what is true, lovely and right part of the best teaching we will ever share?



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Jen Reyneri

Renaissance Woman Jen Reyneri and her husband Luis often live life on the road with their two home-schooled sons. Popular author and speaker, Jen is founder of WordTraveling.com. Spirited and spirit filled, she savors life, poetic words, sabbaticals and strong coffee.



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