How do we learn thankfulness?

I meet with our preschool’s students each Wednesday morning. I love the chance to interact with a room full of three, four and five year olds who have such a great way of seeing the world and who teach me a lot about God and faith.

Each November, in preparation for Thanksgiving, we sing a song about how much we have to be thankful for, including Jesus. Now even though most preschoolers know how to say thank you, how do you teach them what gratitude is? How do we learn to be thankful?

I start out by having them share things they have that they like a lot. This would include everything from toys and pets to friends and families. We’ve already talked about how everything we have is from God, who made everything. So then we connect the two. You say, “Thank you, God, for my toys.” Or parents. Or bugs. Or whatever. At some level, I think they get it, perhaps even better than we do.

In time we also learn to take things for granted. Until Thanksgiving comes along and stimulates our gratitude glands and we humbly remember our dependence on God and his grace. At least that’s what happens with me. But I get an earlier nudge since I teach the kids about Thanksgiving and they help me see the God who deserves our thanks and praise.

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