Wrapped up in half a dozen blankets, with a sippy cup of milk dangling from his teeth and a book in each hand, my child crawled up into my lap. It was a joy to snuggle close at bedtime, visiting The Hundred Acre Woods and Neverland together. But as he grew, so did the number of his storybooks and the size of his cup. Though we set boundaries in our bedtime routines, every night stretched longer than the one before. Another song, a longer back tickle, a made up story, another Bible story, another visit from Dad and one more prayer…
Amidst his nighttime attempts for more, I discovered two interesting things about my son. First, my child pushed for more until he got a strong No. (And even then, heartbroken cries for more would trail after me from behind his closed bedroom door.) The second thing I realized was that this insatiable appetite began leaking out into our previously contented daytime hours as well.
A NATURAL INCLINATION
You too might have a son like mine, whose natural inclination is toward discontentment. It’s a challenging personality to raise; exhausting as they ask for one thing after another. Always consuming though never filled. Never satisfied. But rather than grow weary and get angry, and it’s a temptation, I’m realizing how exhausting it must be for him. Never filled to overflow – ever striving for what’s next.
Here in November at The MOB Society we’re pausing to turn things around and go the direction of Thanksgiving with our sons. Redirecting our own hearts as we redirect theirs. Leading by example and giving them the tools they need to live thankful days.
Redirection in behavior training is a common parenting tool when raising toddlers. Instead of turning every poor choice they make into a lecture or a firm time of discipline, sometimes all they need is a gentle redirect. “Uh-oh,” we say, “Let’s not grab what Brother’s playing with, look at all these dinosaurs!”
Redirection in its simplest form.
We started the practice of redirecting thanksgiving, when he was very young and asked for another cookie, another play-date, another anything on the heels of having had so much GOOD already that day. I’d get down on his eye-level and ask, “Can you tell me, Sweetheart, three things we’ve already done this morning? Three gifts you’ve already had?”
Daily, sometimes multiple times, redirecting him back to giving thanks. Simple things like…
- Bacon at breakfast
- A swim in the pool
- Fluffy white clouds in the sky
- A card in the mail from Nana
- Legos with brothers…
He’s older now, but I see that this personality pull towards more-more-more may be a struggle for him always. So we keep redirecting; practicing the miracle exercise of Thanksgiving.
It won’t surprise you that this boy of mine loves collecting (hoarding) treasures. And one of the treasures he loves most are journals–leather-bound or brightly colored, lined for words or blank for art. This fall I bought us both our own large sketchbooks and said, “Here’s one for you and one for me, let’s sit together each day and write out our blessings – because we have so much to be thankful for.”
I didn’t tell him why he’s the only boy in our home who got one. He received it as a gift. And wrote it down. “This new journal is a gift.” It’s my prayer that as my son recounts his gratitude, his heart would fill up to overflowing–satisfied as we redirect him there each morning.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Dear Lord, please satisfy my son each morning with your unfailing love, that he may sing for joy and be glad (and grateful and all filled up…) all his days. Amen
Question: Do you have a child with a natural bent towards discontentment? Or maybe your own heart is in need of redirecting. How do you actively encourage Thankful Hearts in your home?