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?
This is perfect! Thank you so much for providing a graceful way to handle when my son’s bad mood takes over and he shows a general dissatisfaction with life. I will start this new habit right away with both of my children to get them used to the idea. Hopefully when the negative sets in, we will have an easier time snapping out of it.
At nearly 11 my big guy is starting to express his stress. You can imagine how it breaks my heart. I’m talking to The Lord about my boy a lot these days, asking for His wisdom to guide me and patience to fuel me. Praying the same for you right now.
Thank you for a wonderful idea! This is a constant struggle with my son & we both end up frustrated very often!!
This is exactly what I needed!! My son is the same way and I’ve never thought about how he might feel in all of it. Discontent must be just as hard for him, as it is for me to hear from him. I definitely need to make counting God’s gifts a daily thing.
[…] Throughout the month of 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. (read more) […]
Thank you for the idea. I have noticed discontent a lot in my 7 year old. I want him to learn contentment so much! It’s so important in this life to just be happy with what you have. Always wanting more is truly exhausting. Thanks for the encouragement.
It is exhausting. Yes. Yes. Yes. Reminds me of the verses “Cease from striving, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10) And “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:14)
Wow, what great words! Thank you.
What a gracious way to redirect complaining! I am going to remember this. 🙂
Wendy,This is a huge struggle in our home as well. As I read your post, I remembered a November tradition I tried to start a few years ago, had all the supplies for, pulled out, and began, 9 days into the month (library style pockets with papers inside to list 5 things we are grateful for each day). We were able to come up with ideas for yesterday and today, even if one of them was for the cute bird on the card. 🙂
Thanks for always pointing back to Jesus, who is with us on this journey.