Cultivating Thanksgiving in the Heart of Your Teen

By Jessica Wolstenholm

Raising children in today’s world is not for the faint of heart. And one thing is for sure; cultivating thanksgiving in the heart of your teen is something you must be very intentional about. From infancy to toddler to school-age to teen; raising children in to be thankful in today’s world must be an every day commitment. And here’s why: Because our flesh fights against everything that is good so we must train our children to focus on listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to understand what thanksgiving really is.

Raising teens in today’s “me first” culture presents us with many unique challenges. One of the main challenges is teaching them to value others above themselves. The good news is, that even in the “selfie” generation our teens are immersed in, it is still possible to teach them to have a heart full of Thanksgiving. Here are three of the ways God has shown us how to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving in our teenagers.

3 Ways to Cultivate Thanksgiving in the Heart of Your Teen

1. Never forget to say thank you. While this may seem like a simple gesture it is the foundation for valuing others and being grateful for what you have. Every time our children say “thank you” it teaches them to recognize when someone else is serving them and blessing them. Not only does this teach them to appreciate what God has given them, it also helps them be disciplined in the area of gratitude.

You will begin to see a difference in the teen years when a child has been taught to use their manners. You’ll notice that the teens that say “thank you” tend to be more tuned in to the emotions and needs of others. It’s a beautiful sight indeed! While we’ve watched our children go through seasons where they “forget” to say thank you (ahem, toddlers), it is easily corrected when we gently remind them to do so. And trust me when I tell you, the pay off is good.

2. Always give God praise. We’ve found in our (nearly) 18 years of parenting that giving God praise for all He has done sets an example of thanksgiving for our children. As you know, your children learn by watching others and this is a wonderful way to model a heart of Thanksgiving to your teen. When your children grow up learning that it is God who gives all good things, this helps them cultivate a heart of Thanksgiving in the teen years and beyond.

3. Love them right where they are. Be sure to remember that God created each of us with different personalities and ways of expression so it is okay if your teen isn’t always as expressive or vocal as you are. Learn to tune into their unique ways of expression and communicate with them and love them right where they are. This will show them how much you love them and help form gratitude in the every day. All our children want from us is to be loved and shown an example of how to live a life for Christ. Let’s do them a favor and love them where they are and their heart will be full of thanksgiving!

Just because our children are growing up in a world that isn’t full of gratitude doesn’t mean that our children have to be the same. By modeling a heart of thanksgiving to our children and loving them where they are – you will see your children grow into a true spirit of gratitude in the teen years and well beyond. Let’s continue to show the world the light of Christ as we raise children who are thankful!