How do you breed a heart of thankfulness in the heart of your children? Do you start by taking them to feed the homeless, give away their toys to the less fortunate or by giving money to bell ringers? No, I don’t think that is where it starts. Thankfulness starts with an attitude of contentment – being thankful for the very place and things God has you right now. Seems like a big task – even for adults – doesn’t it? I agree! This month, we are going to look at The Attitude of Gratitude –
When I think back to stages of my life where I was the most ungrateful, it was always in seasons of discontent. Discontentment is anytime we let the feeling of happiness, or unhappiness, take over the place of joy in our life. When we are unhappy and discontent in our current surroundings, we have a hard time looking out and being thankful.
The same is true for our children. Children base much of life on happiness. If they are not happy, they tend to let the rest of us know about it. Babies cry. Toddlers throw a fit (be honest – all toddlers do!), children pout, and teenagers sulk. Yes, every one of us has had a child that is unhappy and can’t be thankful for what they have. For example:
- Give a toddler a cookie – they are going to want two!
- Give a child a day at the fun park – they are going to want prizes and souvenirs!
- Take a teenager on a vacation – they are going to compare their vacation to friends, and wish they had more.
No matter the age of the child – they are always going to see the word more and equate it with happiness. However, I have been working on this area with my children – and I want to share with you 5 steps in teaching your children contentment – that will lead to thankfulness.
- Pray- Yes, that step seems easy.Maybe it is the hardest. But when I first started to see the discontentment in my children, the lack of an attitude of gratitude, I was horrified. I didn’t want to share with anyone that MY kids were ungrateful. So, I took to my knees and began to pray. The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous avails much! Get on your knees Mama! Our children need our prayers- and this is an area we can bathe them in it.
- Start With You- My kid’s attitudes starts with me. The saying has often gone “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. Well, there might be some truth in that, I am not here to debate that one way or the other. However, I do think when we as women, wives, and mothers are unthankful, that attitude overflows on the ones we spend time with. (The same is true for you- who are YOU spending time with?) Watch your words, your attitudes. When you see it in your children, look in the mirror first. Apologize if you need to, for areas where you have been a bad example. Then, walk with a heart of praise and a grateful heart.
- Praise- The easiest way I have found to turn my discontentment and lack of thankfulness upside down, is to start praising God for blessings in my life. When you see a lack of thanksgiving in your kid’s lives, have them sit down, and write out their blessings. During the month of November, my kids do a Gratitude Journal. This has made a huge turn around in our family – especially because of number 4!
- Watch advertisements – Guard your children! This is the season where every store is out to make your children ungrateful! On Halloween, one major toy store made sure we got their Christmas catalog in the mail – filled with things my children just “had to have”. These are things they didn’t even know existed 24 hours ago – and now, their worlds will be forever devastated if they don’t receive them (read that in a sassy 6-year-old voice if you need to for full effect!)
- Give. I think one of the best ways to combat discontentment is to give. Set sometime this month to look to others. Share what you have. Time, money, resources, talents, and stuff. Give out of the abundance of what you have been blessed.
This month, we are going to look at each of these areas in more depth, and talk about ways that we can invest an attitude of gratitude into the hearts and minds of our children. But… it starts with you.
Father God, help us to be content. You have blessed us with far more than we need – and even if we feel we have a need, we know you will provide according to your will. Create a heart and attitude of gratitude in us first, and help us to invest that attitude on all we meet. Thank you for loving us so much. In Jesus strong name we pray – AMEN!