The light streamed into my kitchen this Easter morning, the trees’ shadows shimmying on the floor as the wind blew through my open windows. Gratitude washed over me in a wave so satisfying and joyful, that I immediately wanted to make sure my own children woke up each morning feeling this way.
As I thought about my son and his constant questions about what the Easter Bunny might bring and the presents he might get to open, I had realized earlier that Mr. Jenn and I had some parenting work to do in the area of thankfulness in our house.
It’s easy to assume that attitudes come naturally, but we strongly believe they can be influenced or even taught. Here are five things we will do to teach gratitude in our home starting today.
Easter is the perfect day to share the truth of the ultimate gift of sacrifice we have all been freely given. The Easter Bunny left notes to lead our kids on an Easter egg hunt. As they trailed around the house, the Bunny had left crosses for them to paint before they were allowed to head downstairs to see their baskets. The Bunny instructed us to tell them the story of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and the miracle of His Resurrection.
“Why would He do that for us?” asked our six-year-old son, Lil’ P.
“Because He loved us,” we explained. “He wanted all of us to have Everlasting Life through Him. All we have to do is believe.”
“Why did people make fun of Him?” asked our nine-year-old daughter, Lil’ K., who had just been spoken to about an unkind comment about another child a few days prior.
“Because they didn’t understand who He was,” explained Mr. Jenn. “When Jesus died on the Cross, there was an earthquake, and the skies got dark in the middle of the day. That made all those people realize they had made a terrible mistake.”
“God doesn’t make mistakes in who or how he creates them,” I said. “We don’t have any business judging others by being unkind to them.”
2. Set Aside Time to Share
Each night when we sit down to dinner, we’re going to share things that happened throughout the day that made us feel grateful. Counting blessings is a habit that insures lifelong healthiness and happiness.
3. Do Something for Others
We had the chance to create artwork to sell in a benefit art auction to help a family dealing with cancer. Lil’ P. and Lil’ K. watched my husband make his piece to donate, and they followed suit. They got really excited when their little items sold for a small amount as well. They enjoyed the feeling of having made a difference.The other night, Mr. Jenn helped my daughter make dinner for us. She was excited that she could contribute, and she was even more delighted when we liked her chicken tenders. We thanked her, and she loved the feeling of our gratefulness. We were all thankful it wasn’t me cooking. If it weren’t for Mr. Jenn, and now our daughter, we’d starve.We are going to work to make sure that our kids continue to have these kinds of experiences. They seem to work!
4. Spend more time, less money.
The times when our kids are the most appreciative is when we’re doing simple things that cost little or nothing. Backyard campfires, watching movies together, and sitting on a beach make them seem to appreciate us and each other more. This year, the Easter Bunny bought us games to play together. Nothing fancy. Our kids were happy, though. We had fun playing together, and the Easter Bunny had some pocket change left over to show his gratitude to Mr. Jenn and me.
5. Model gratitude.
Mr. Jenn and I try hard to remember to thank each other for things we do. We attempt to practice what we preach. Our kids will do as we do, not as we say. We’ve been trying to tell them forever to clean their rooms. Until I put all those piles of laundry away, there’s not a lot I can say about the toys in the floor. But when we say we’re thankful to and for one another, Lil’ K. and Lil’ P. will hopefully follow suit.
What ideas do you have this Easter season to help your kids practice gratitude? Please share below in the comment section!