Our daughter had a teacher who made a habit of thanking her students at the end of every class. She also expected them to thank her in return. It was interesting to watch the process over time. At first the students looked a little stunned a teacher was thanking them. For a little while she needed to remind a few to thank her in return. Pretty soon though, all of the students sang out thank you’s which were very heartfelt.
As Christian parents, we teach our children to thank God for their blessings. We make them send thank you notes for gifts received from out of town relatives and say thank you when someone hands them a present. How often though do we teach them to thank others – and by extension God – for the more unseen gifts in life?
Do your children thank their teachers at the end of every class? Most teachers put untold hours of work into their classes. Many spend their own money on supplies and work during their “off” hours to help their students. Yet teachers often only get “thanked” with a group present once or twice a year. I can almost promise you, most would prefer a daily heartfelt thank you from their students.
What about the school crossing guard or the principal? Do your children thank servers in restaurants for every item they bring them? What about the “lunch ladies” or the “ketchup moms” in the school cafeteria? Do your kids think they must like the food before those people are thanked? Do they thank the school janitor or the person at church who fills the communion cups or arranges the pretty flowers? Do they thank the neighbor who allows them to play in his yard or the nice lady at church who always asks about their lives?
Teaching children to see God’s hidden gifts to them will slowly create a spirit of gratitude in the hearts of your children. It is a crucial building block for their faith and frankly a fun one to help them practice. You and your children may soon find you receive just as much joy from the reaction of those you thank as they received from the gratitude your children showed them.