Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday - A Lesson in Gratitude

Remember all the stuff in November about gratitude?  I sure hope that movement has a lasting legacy of positive change in regards to being grateful because we could all use a little bit more gratitude.

And from the pages of "as for mie and my house"...

This could very easily have been a double post as Tuesday's Tears - very easily because it brought many, many tears to our household one night.  That being said the tears resulted from a parenting "technique" that was intended to teach gratitude and boy did it.

Remember this?  Our son out of mixed emotions and exhaustion accused mie of trying to kill him because I wouldn't let him sleep in our bed that night?  Well, apparently the discussion about how there are real mommies and daddies out there who do harm their kiddos wasn't enough to stop the fits about sleeping in my bed.

Last week little man threw one heck of a fit.  I ended up having to carry him upstairs into his room as he threw a massive tantrum because he wanted to sleep in our bed and it was not yet "the 3rd night".  I persisted though and unashamedly told him he would be sleeping in his bed tonight, not ours.

Except he's in a bunk bed, on the top, and I can't physically just put him up there.  He refused to climb the ladder and instead just huddled on the floor as to make it as difficult as possible for mie to put him up on the bed (and boy did that bring flashbacks of my tantrum-throwing self).  So, I gave him one warning.

Then I took away his bed for the night.

Immediately he changed his tune and said he loved his bed and wanted to sleep in it.  He did not want to sleep on the floor.  I told him it was too late, that he was sleeping on the floor tonight and will continue to sleep on the floor until he is grateful for what he has.  I gave him a pillow and several blankets, tucked him in, said our bedtime prayers, etc, all while he continued to throw a fit, now about wanting his bed back.

"I miss my mattress!"
"I don't want to sleep on the floor!"
"The floor is going to cut me!" (just so you're wondering it's upgraded carpet that is probably 5 years old and well-kept)

When we were praying he asked God to make mie give him his bed back :)

He kept on and on until I explained to him that he has to be grateful for what he has and if he's not grateful for what he has then I will take it away too - instead of complaining about not sleeping in mommy's bed he needs to be grateful for his - instead of complaining about not having his mattress he needs to be grateful for his pillow or I'll take that away too, etc.

I told him that's how it's going to be and then left the room.  I half expected him to climb into his bed in defiance and go to sleep, but he didn't.  About 1/2 hour later I went in to check on him and he was curled up with his pillow and blankets right where I'd left him.  I quietly picked him up and put him on his bed and helped him climb into his bed though he was half-asleep.  I covered him gently and kissed him goodnight and he was asleep right away again.

In the morning when he woke up he told him how grateful he was going to be now.  He told mie how grateful he was that I put him in his bed and he was genuine about it.  We then had a good conversation about my job as a mom and furthermore about mercy.  It was a great day of lessons.

Since then we haven't had to talk about being grateful about anything and I can tell he's genuinely grateful, not expecting, for his 3rd night where he gets to sleep with us as a treat.  He reminds mie that he's working on being grateful and now asks for things by saying something along the line of "Mommy, I'm grateful for what I already have, but do you think sometime I could have a xxxxx".

We live much more "luxuriously" than I did growing up, which was from what I understand much more lavish than when my parents grew up.  But one thing I want my son to know as he continues to grow, whether we're in plenty or in want, is to be grateful for what he has and joyful at all times, that he can choose those reactions despite the situation he finds himself in.  That is sometimes difficult living in the situation we live in where we have plenty to eat, safe water, and plenty of toys.  Some of our family's struggles (infertility, as an example) are not entirely kid appropriate and so he doesn't necessarily see some of the things we "don't have" and in his world "the worst" sometimes truly is that he doesn't get to sleep in bed with mom and dad.  He doesn't truly know that sleeping in your own bed or having hamburgers when you wanted hot dogs, in the grand scheme of things, isn't the worst thing in the world.  Hopefully this little lesson gave him a little age-appropriate, non-abusive experience to help him on his journey to being grateful for what he's been given.

1 comment:

The Moshells said...

You handled that so well! What a good idea and one I may be adopting. Thanks for sharing!