At some point, it seems all children see their cups half-empty. They notice ALL the disappointments. And they invite you to their pity-party–complete with plenty of whine! The good news–you can add one simple habit to your child’s bedtime routine and redirect them onto a path of thankfulness!
3 Thankful Things
About three years, my 4th child hit one of these negativity bumps. Bedtime became a litany of all the day’s disappointments–not how I wanted to end the day! I knew I needed to do something… I have loved and followed Ann Voskamp for years–and I remembered something simple she shared on her blog:
Studies showed a 25% increase in happiness by simply finding 3 things to be thankful for daily.
And so we grabbed onto to the idea and decided to count our blessings as a way to re-frame our son’s perspective.
I knew that to make thankfulness a habit–I needed to connect it to a habit we already established. As a busy mom of 6–very few things in my day are guaranteed… But I do know I can count on morning coffee and bedtime prayers!
I decided to hook the new habit of thankfulness to evening prayer time. I could do that–this I could manage! So as we were tucking our little guy into bed and finishing up prayer time–we invited him to share 3 things he was thankful for from the day.
He gave us a blank look.
I looked at my husband and said… “Well, Dad can go first…”And so what started as an invitation for my son…became an invitation for our family. My husband and I both shared three things we were thankful for that night–and my son shared his three thankful things.
Thankfulness & Contentment
Those first few nights were a bit clunky…New habits take a little time to break-in before they become comfy and fit our lives. But within a week, my son could easily identify three things he was thankful for.
In fact, he decided we should make it five things…(We finally had to cut him off. Turns out counting thankful things is a pretty great way to stall bedtime…) Now we share the nightly invitation with our twins. We all say prayers together and then take turns sharing our 3 Thankful Things. It’s given us an opportunity to reflect together at the end of the day–and provided a foundation for conversations about gratitude.
When my kids begin complaining or struggling with contentment (cue the birthday and Christmas lists they start months in advance)–I point them to thankfulness:“God wants you to be thankful for what you have–let’s focus on that…”
When my kids are grown and gone, I hope they always remember the snuggles, giggles, sweet prayers, and how we always shared 3 Thankful Things at bedtime…
And I hope this simple bedtime routine can be a blessing to your family as well!
FREE Gratitude Bingo
Just in time for Thanksgiving–your kids will LOVE playing this bingo game! (Perfect for keeping a crowd of cousins busy!)
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About Jen Merckling
Jen Merckling is a former elementary teacher turned 16 year homeschool mom of 6 kids! She has 3 young adults, a third grader, and 6-year old miracle twins! In the middle of dishes and piles laundry–you can find her blogging about homeschool life and developing homeschool curriculum at jenmerckling.com. Follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook!