Have you encountered grumbling instead of appreciation in your children during school lately? I have. So how do we get back to a grateful attitude in these strenuous times? It doesn’t matter what year it is, we need to be training up our children to love learning and learning how to be thankful.
It’s been tough year on all of us, our children included. Let’s be real though, by acknowledging that an ungrateful attitude can creep into a heart during any year. But it has been magnified this year. Recently, after another unpleasant school day with an ungrateful attitude, I decided to confront my daughter, who is 11. She said she was sorry she had mentioned anything negative about school. She definitely did not want to be having this conversation. I told her she didn’t even have to say anything. I could tell she was not pleased by her body language and the way she was doing her schoolwork.
Her lack of appreciation affects me too. When my student does not want to do her school work, I get an attitude too. My attitude goes from wanting to help her learn to frustration. One of the lines I’ve used in homeschooling is, “it doesn’t have to be fun, it just has to be done.” I know my kids hate it when I remind them of that, but it’s true. I don’t always enjoy my housework. But I do enjoy a clean house. Just as my daughter doesn’t really want to put forth the effort to learn her spelling words and write correctly. But she does like to write letters to her friends and appreciates the knowledge she has learned of how to write properly.
So how do we get back a grateful attitude in a more strenuous time? Here are some steps that have helped me:
First, lead them to focus on what is good about their homeschool day. For example: ask your student what they learned today that was interesting or useful. It may be hard at first. But when we intentionally choose to be thankful about something, it changes our outlook in that area.
Second, let the confrontational conversation lead into something deeper. What I did see was that after talking about it and looking to find the good in her school day, she was much more pleasant the rest of the day. I think we just needed to have a good long talk about life’s frustrations again. It has been rough. We are all just trying to get through the stress of these required days at home.
Third, train their heart. It’s hard to be thankful all the time. But it’s important to have a general attitude of thankfulness. When kids are toddlers or preschoolers, many parents train their child to say “please and thank you.” It is cute to hear them say these things. But as they get older, you don’t need a please and thank you for every single request, object given or service rendered to them. In fact, I’ve seen older children use these words as a way of manipulating their parents or other adults. A child’s long drawn out pleeeease is usually an attempt at begging one more time after an adult has already said no. That is why we are training their heart and not just their words. As far as the words “thank you” go, it is good in some instances, like when someone puts forth extra effort or if someone gives a gift. But when we are doing dishes together, “thank you” being said constantly every few minutes isn’t necessary; only an unspoken general sense of thankfulness and joy in doing it together.
God’s Word reminds us to guard our hearts:
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.“
Let’s make sure we get past lip service to the very heart of our children’s ungratefulness. You may learn more if you take time to try to understand your child. Listen to why they are ungrateful and why they are giving you an attitude. Teach each other. When I did this, I learned much more about what was bothering my child than just school stuff. She needed to unload what was going on in her heart. She needed my full attention, alone with her, with no distractions. She needed a shoulder to cry on. I needed to hear what was really going on in her heart. I needed to know she was not just having a bad attitude, she was truly feeling overwhelmed inside. Our children are so precious to us. We want what’s best for them. But when things like ungratefulness pop up, it’s a red flag warning. We need to pray for wisdom. God will lead us through the process of reconciliation.
Now that I have spent time listening to her about her ungrateful attitude during school, her attitude is better and she is more engaged in school again. We are continuing to say what was good, useful and interesting about school at the end of each school day so we can still keep this door of communication open. Remember that this thankfulness is rewiring her mind. It is creating a new pattern of thinking and is changing her from being a gouchy student into becoming a “grateful student.”
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Homeschooling is not easy everyday. It has its hard parts. Having an ungrateful student is one of them. Remember: praying, then talking through what’s really bothering them is key.
God bless your homeschool. You can bless me by commenting, liking and sharing. That’s how these good messages can spread encouragement to more and more people.
Matthew 15:18 NLT
Proverbs 17:22 ESV