When was the last time you heard a thank you from your child or the child in front of you at the fast food restaurant? Encouraging children to be thankful isn’t just a topic of discussion during the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s an instruction in God’s Word that carries many benefits.

The most obvious benefit is the blessing of obedience. God’s word is clear,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

Research has once again confirmed the truth of God’s word – not necessary, but interesting. A professor of psychology at the University of California Davis (a pioneer of “gratitude research”) found that writing down things for which you are thankful increases happiness. When the subjects in his study did just that each day for three weeks the result was an increase in happiness which lasted for 6 months.

It was found that regularly writing down things they were thankful for gave the research subjects increased energy and other health improvements. Thankfulness has also been shone to lessen symptoms of depression. Experts believe the link comes from the tendency of grateful people to appreciate their health more and take better care of themselves.

Are you modeling a thankful attitude?

The actions and decisions of parents have a very powerful influence on their children. Thankfulness expressed in words and actions is the most effective. i.e. Thank you for making this delicious dinner. Let me help you do the dishes.

It’s important to make the words “Please, Thank you, and Excuse me” a habit in the family and beyond. As the parent, first you instruct, then you coach, and finally applaud as the kids develop this healthy, grateful pattern. It’s also a good idea to help children learn to count their blessings.

Thankfulness is an attitude and a choice. God’s Word is clear. In everything give thanks, in all circumstances.