So, How Do I Explain The Difference Between Praise And Thanks to My Kids?

The Difference Between Praise and ThanksI know my focus has been a little more on children lately, but that’s probably because I’ve spent a lot of time working on materials for our churches Bible Camp. It’s Vacation Bible School, we just don’t call it that.

So, between writing materials for the Bible station and being so excited about all that God has been teaching me about prayer, I’ve been thinking about how all that I’m learning and doing translates to my children. After all, if they can grasp these concepts early on, their relationship with God will be so much further ahead than mine was when I reached adulthood.

One of the things I’ve always found most difficult to do in prayer was to praise God. I was taught to pray in my late teens using the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) model. It’s resurfaced again in my prayer life because I’ve been using it with my girls. It’s not that we haven’t been praying, but I was ready to see them take their prayer lives to the next level. This seemed like the obvious next step.

The first morning we did this, I remember the looks on the girls’ faces when I told them about adoration. Confused and furrowed brows stared back at me. Then I gave them a synonym: praise. They looked like the understood a little better because they equate praise with songs. But when it actually came time to pray, they both sat silent,  unsure of what to say.

“Just tell God how much you love Him,” was my advice at that point.

So morning after morning I heard things like “I love you God,” or, “I love you to the moon and back,” or they might just skip it and go straight to thanking God for things during this time. I realized that I really need to communicate with them more effectively on this topic.

Telling others how awesome God is seems to be easier for me than telling God himself. I tell stories of what He is doing in my life all of the time to people. This is a form of praise. And, the evidence of His awesomeness is in the stories I share.

It’s similar with my kids. I praise them in front of each other or when I tell their father about the wise choices they’ve made or how proud of them I am for the person they are becoming. As mothers we share stories all the time about our kids. It seems though that when it’s just me and them, it’s not as easy. Now, that may just be me, but it did lead me to question:

Who do I praise more, my children or my God? (tweet that)

If I had asked myself this a month ago, the answer would have been my kids. But, my prayer life has been radically altered recently for the better. And, in seeing the fruit of it, I desire my children to experience the same kind of prayer life I currently have.

So to help us in this process and be sure that we understand the differences between praise and thankfulness, I created the info-graph below. And, I used sentence frames just like I would in the classroom to help get them started.

Praise and Thankfulness Infograph
I also found a resource this week that I am going to use with the girls: 31 Ways to Praise. It will be great for me as well.  I’ve printed it out and have cut it up so we can pull one out each day to use. What I like about this is that they have a bible verse that’s pray-able as is. Praying scripture is something I’ve been working on and would really like to add into our mornings together, but I’m also going to work hard on us making it personal.

After showing these things to my youngest (almost 9) she was really excited. She asked me to print the info-graph so she could use it to fill in the blanks. Now, that makes a mama’s heart happy.

I know those of you reading are parents and/or educators, if you have any resources to add, link them in the comments. I’m always looking for great ideas to use with my girls. AND Feel free to share the info-graph and this post with anyone.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Karen

    I’ve never really thought about the difference before but I think you did a great job breaking it down!

  • Corie Clark

    Great post Shelly! I love the info-graphic too!

  • Camilla

    I loved visuals as a kid and still do. Seeing something explained is to me easier than listening to someone trying to explain it verbally. Great idea and infographic!

  • Ashleigh Burroughs

    Raising great kids is a lot of work!

  • Amber Albright

    Very thought provoking post! And I really like the info-graph. I will refer back that for myself and my family. :-)

    • Shelly Tiffin

      I’m so glad you found it helpful. That was the goal. :)

  • Becca

    Shelly, I love how devoted you are to your faith and family. Using a graphic like this is a great way for kids to understand a concept!

  • Sharon Stockham

    Thank you for being so clear and specific in your explanation and the “blanks” that clarify how to pray. Excellent.

    • Shelly Tiffin

      Thanks Sharon!

  • David Mike

    This was an awesome post and a great way to explain the difference between praise and thanks. We call it the life giving practices at our church but it is very similar. Thanks for sharing this. Tweeted and Pinned!

    • Shelly Tiffin

      Thanks Mike, btw, your story was amazing like always.