We hear people talking about having a thankful heart or an attitude of gratitude. Both are super important, but I believe thankfulness begins in the mind.

When we feel discontent in our lives, it is often a sign we are not having the perspective of thankful thoughts. There’s an awesome mental practice called “mind bouncing” which is really changing your mind and thinking about something else. When our children are discontent, we can help them change their minds.

If your child says, “My teacher is so strict,” you can respond with “Strict teachers keep distracted children focused. I am so grateful you have someone to protect your education. Are there students in your class who are acting out a lot and causing your teacher to have to be stricter? Let’s pray for your teacher’s relationships with those students and for those students to be less distracted. What else can you be thankful about in your classroom?”

If your child says, “(Child’s Name) makes me so mad. He never follows directions.” You can help him mind bounce by asking, “I am so thankful you are in (Child’s Name’s) class. You are a gift from God for that child. When (Child’s Name) doesn’t listen, you can pray for (him/her) to listen and pay attention. If the classmate is causing you lots of problems, I am grateful you go to a school where we can talk to your teacher and principals to get help. Do you need me to talk with your teacher about this child?” If it is just frustration and not bullying, pray together for that child and continue to pray for your child’s influence over and protection from this classmate.

When your children are discontent about not having the latest clothes or toys, you can help them think about what they do have by saying something like, “I am so thankful that God has provided everything we need for our family. If you really want those (desired things), then let’s make a plan to save your money or to ask for them for your next birthday or Christmas. What are some of the things you are grateful you have that others might not have?” You may have to give them some ideas like shoes, running water, etc. If the desire for more is causing discontent in your child’s mind, it may be a good time to teach your children about children around the world who have less. Having the perspective of thankful thoughts will help your children’s hearts this season.

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-35

How do you help your children think thankful thoughts?