Be sensitive to opportunities to thank God as they arise. If your perspective is self-focused, they’ll be hard to find. If your perspective is God-focused, they’ll be all around you. Teach your child to look for these opportunities by pointing them out as they come up.
It might be when your child is overly frustrated with something and needs to be brought back to center. Remind him of the good things God has provided for him. My youngest son has had to work on a perfectionist streak in his personality (he comes by it naturally, trust me). It doesn’t take much to push his annoyance button when something isn’t going the way he thinks it should. However, I can usually divert his annoyance by pointing out that a) God has given him the ability to figure it out, b) not everyone has been so blessed with the thing that is frustrating him (video game, some project, etc.), and c) what he does have he needs to be thankful for.
We can even teach our children that our frustration can be used by God to mature us in our faith. This isn’t an easy concept to get across. In fact, this is one that may takes years (or a lifetime) to understand because it’s so hard sometimes to see beyond the immediate circumstances. However, we can help our children to see the potential for growth through the situation by pointing out the possibilities: learning self-discipline, tenacity, critical thinking, selflessness, generosity, etc. Children love to hear what their parents think of their potential and that they have faith in their abilities. But parents also need to point out that those abilities are gifts from God and the purpose of them is to lead a God-honoring life.
Use small things as an occasion for expressing thanks. Praise God for whomever thought up rocky road ice cream. Marvel at how certain people have been gifted with creative talents. Thank God for people who do kind things. Express gratitude when He answers prayer. Learn to say these kinds of things out loud for your child to hear. Your child will begin to learn that God can be seen in everything if he or she will just look.
Teaching our children to express gratefulness to God in even the small things will build a heart of thanksgiving that translates into love and adoration for their Lord. Their hearts will be inclined toward His Word and seek what pleases Him. God wants to know we appreciate Him just as much as we like knowing it ourselves. Teaching our children this goes a long way in shaping their attitude about who God is. If they can learn that He is a God of righteousness, love and mercy their hearts will be turned towards Him as they begin to understand what salvation means.
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