When the mindset needs to change, from full of complaints to full of thanksgiving

Leonny – Singapore

count your blessings, name them one by one

count your blessings see what God has done

count your blessings, name them one by one

count your many blessings, see what God has done

 

Singing the above song obviously is so much easier than putting it into practice. For us adults, and especially for little children.

[Get ready for a really long post]

In the past 2 weeks or so, Anya has somehow gotten into the habit of comparing what others have that she DOESN’T have.

Every single day, I’d hear sentences like,

‘Ugh. She has a drawing book with a Mickey Mouse cover on it. How nice. I don’t even have one!’

‘Vai gets to drink the juice first, how nice! And I have to wait!’

‘That boy gets to sit near the bus window. SO comfortable. I don’t even get a seat!’

[Btw, she speaks in Indonesian, and if you understand the language basically this is what she OFTEN says, 'Enak amat dia … , Anya ajah ga ada …']

And when she starts her ‘complaining mode’, I explain and emphasise these points to her :

Everyone is special and we can’t expect everyone to be the same.

Other people have things that we don’t have. That’s for sure. And we also have things that other people may not have (I’d then give real examples of the things that she can be grateful about, things that she has that others may not have)

If we compare ourselves with others AND complain about what we DON’T have, the list will be ENDLESS.

And everywhere we go and whatever we see, we’d think and say, ‘Ugh look, she has a car, how convenient, I don’t even have one. Ugh look, her pencil is so cute, how nice, I don’t even have one like that. Her birthday cake has nice candles, how lucky, I didn’t even have those for my birthday’ blah blah blah.

What kind of a life would we have if that’s how we think about everything that we see around us. It’s destructive and is so unappreciative of the many blessings we ALREADY have and receive.

– We should seriously change and reverse the way we think and see things, because really, when we utter words and maintain such a mindset it will do us NO good at all.

Instead of saying, ‘Ugh … look at her new bike! How lucky of her. She has a bike like that, and I don’t even have one like hers!’, we can say, ‘Look Mommy, her bike is so nice. I have one at home too!’

And, instead of saying, ‘They all went to Malaysia for their holiday. How nice! I didn’t even go anywhere!’, she can instead learn to say something like, ‘Oh they went to Malaysia… Mommy, can we perhaps go to Malaysia too one day?’ The first sentence is full of envy and complaints. The second is an observation of what other people experience and a pure request. Two completely different approach to a situation. And it all must start from a change in our mindset.

– We really need to count our blessings. We must not see (and complain about) what we don’t have, and we must be thankful for what we ALREADY have

Despite my reminders and explanations, Anya finds it hard to stop complaining.

Here’s one episode that I’d like to share with you.

Just three days ago, we were getting ready to go out, and as I placed the kids’ going-out clothes on my bed (for them to get changed by themselves), I heard her mumbled, ‘Vai gets to wear a new top. How nice! I don’t even have anything new!’

And I thought, this is it. She needs to ‘experience’ a lesson.

I walked back to the room (I was on my way out when I overheard her complaints) and casually asked,

You said you have NO new clothes?

No.

I gave you a new little top yesterday, the one you liked and immediately put on when we went out. But you just said you ‘never’ get anything new? As I always say to you, we need to be responsible with what we say and do, right? So, since you said you have nothing new, I’ll keep that top in the storeroom.

[I casually walked out to the kitchen, and she slowly followed]

She then said, “Mommy … err … I want that top’

I continued with what I was doing in the kitchen, giving little response to her plea. Then after a minute or so, I walked back into the bedroom, folded the new top I gave to Anya, and put it in the storeroom.

When she saw how I actually carried out what I said I would do, she started crying real loudly.

She pleaded and repeatedly asked for her top back. And I casually told her,

‘Anya, you know I always do what I say. And you really need to learn to be thankful with what you have, to stop complaining, and to be responsible with what you say. You complained about having no new clothes, and there is NO new top’.

She wailed even more loudly and kept on asking for her new top back. And so after asking her to listen carefully and stop screaming (because really, how can she listen to what I need to seriously say if she’s screaming and crying so loudly at the same time), I told her,

‘This is what will happen. The new top will still be kept in the storeroom. BUT, if I can see – over a period of a week or more – that you want to learn to stop complaining and change the way you think and see things, then you MAY get your top back. But if you keep on complaining about things, the top will need to be given to someone else, someone who will be THANKFUL for the top.

And eg. if you choose to complain about NOT having toys at all, you will have NO toys as you’ve said it yourself, and you’ll see your many toys and belongings going into the storeroom too.’

[I know she LOVES that new top (which is an important key to making this approach more effective), and I know she knows I mean what I say, ie. I will surely carry out what I say I will do, and if I say I will give the top away, I WILL not hesitate in giving it away]

Since that day till today, she complains much LESS frequently. When she begins to say, ‘Ugh. How come he has … ‘, she’d stop her sentence, because I would’ve given her a ‘look’, and she knows what I mean. And at times, when she’s about to say something negative, I’d casually look at her and ask, ‘Yes? Do you wish to complain again?’

I really can’t imagine the kind of person Anya will become if I don’t nip this negative habit in the bud.

It was getting more and more serious and I knew I had to do something. And in the end, I decided that giving her a little taste of ‘reality discipline’ should (hopefully) be more effective than giving ‘mere talk and explanations’.

It’s a long process.

But I know she’s learning.

AND really, at the same time, I too am seriously reminded too, about how I really should be thankful to God for everything that I ALREADY have.

To not view things negatively. To avoid complaining about stuff. To use positive words, instead of negative ones.

I have SO many flaws and weaknesses myself that I need to change.

And in my heart, I thank my little girl, for reminding me of such precious lessons in life.

count your blessings, name them one by one

count your blessings see what God has done

count your blessings, name them one by one

count your many blessings, see what God has done

 

Link: http://www.oureverydaythings.com/2009/06/parenting-when-the-mindset-needs-to-change-from-full-of-complaints-to-full-of-thanksgiving/

Note from Redaksi Baltyra.com:

Leonny, thank you so much for this privilege. It’s truly our honor and our valuable source of information, especially for young parents.

Thanks a lot!

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