The Gratefulness Principle


Dr. Turansky has a Q&A webinar on Tuesday, December 1, at 9 pm EST: Effective Tools for Communicating with Teens.  Register here.

Gratitude increases closeness in relationships. As you parent your children, look for opportunities to take advantage of gratefulness to draw closer to your kids. Give your children small gifts of love day after day. Be careful, though, that you don’t confuse the gratefulness principle with the overindulgence trap.

Some parents, wanting to connect with their kids and develop closeness, recognize giving gifts opens the heart, so they overdo it by giving them too many things. Giving to your kids must be tied into relationship, or the gifts feed selfishness instead of gratefulness.



"Overindulgence is giving your child more than their character can handle."

When children lack gratitude, then the more you give them, the less they appreciate. Parents must restrain themselves or they’ll exceed their children’s ability to manage the blessings.

Overindulged children rarely become grateful when you give them more things. They grow to be more demanding and selfish. Parents then feel unappreciated and may become resentful. The hearts of both parents and children tend to harden toward each other, and closeness turns into distance.

If your children become overindulged rather than grateful, then pull back on the area where you’re giving too much. Look for creative ways to give differently to your child. Teaching the heart gratefulness can be a challenge. Having a child say thank you is just behavior. Gratefulness comes from the heart.


Monitor your child’s response to gifts of love to determine if you’re growing gratitude or overindulgence. As gratefulness increases, you can slowly give blessings in a way that will produce more gratefulness. You’ll know if you’re moving too quickly by your child’s response.

This tip comes from the book, Parenting is Heart Work by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.



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The "Giving Season" is a great time to focus on gratitude and generosity with your children. It's not a bad thing for us as parents either. What are you grateful for this year?

I hope you're grateful for the ministry of the National Center for Biblical Parenting. (NCBP) We've had an impact on thousands of parents, but there are still millions who need to learn to "Parent the Heart" of their children. With your generosity, we can do more to reach these parents. 

Would you consider a donation to the NCBP at the end of 2015? 


We're also looking to practice generosity so we're
prepared to say thank you for any donation of $50.00 or more with one Biblical Parenting University (BPU) course valued at $100.00. BPU 101 includes 4 hours of on-demand video material that will give you a new vision and tools for parenting your children. If you've already been exposed to our heart-based approach to parenting, you can share this course with another family


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15 comments:

  1. it was easy to see my 14 year old son enjoyed an unexpected stop at McDonalds for an ice cream cone or an Icee when shopping at Target. But I noticed that he was starting to ask for that every time and be a little disgruntled if it didn't happen. Then, one night, he was having trouble falling asleep and I sat with him and gave him a backrub and he was so grateful! :-) I'm cutting down on the McDonalds stops but adding in as many back rubs as I can and the gratefulness without demanding-ness is really showing!

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    1. Nelson, I like what you're saying here and what you're doing with your son. I'm doing a webinar on communicating more effectively with teens on December 1. I'd like any ideas you might have that I could add to my presentation. Thanks. --Scott Turansky

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  2. Thanks for sharing this story Nelson. It's a great illustration. I pray that you have more great times of ministry with your son.

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  3. I like to combat a negative by focusing on its opposite--positive. So when selfishness, greed and lack of gratitude rears its ugly head, we make a consistent focus on giving. It usually takes three months to really kick a bad habit and turn things around, so be patient and keep looking for natural opportunities to give.

    We start with our bedrooms and clean out toys, clothes, books, art supplies, new socks that were never used, etc. We hand down to those we know would really need it (not just burden them with more stuff) and take the rest to the homeless shelter's thrift store. If we know the pastor had a bad week or a trying board meeting, we drop off some natural peanut butter--which we know he loves, or something else he likes. We take a baked good to the nurses at the retirement center. When the kids are teenager, giving can be even more fun with expansive options like raking the neighbor's yard, babysitting for free so a couple can attend a Bible Study, and volunteering at church.

    I also like to bring them along with how we spend our tithes and offerings. If we support a teenager's mission trip or send money to buy Bibles, I make sure the kids get to hear about the fun we had making those choices. That attitude rubs off on them when they have some money to give.

    It doesn't take long before "giving" is an absolute delight for everyone and the "wanting" is forgotten.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing these valuable insights. I love the idea of cultivating giving as a response to selfishness. You're right on the mark. I know that many parents will benefit from your insights and experience.

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    2. Janelle, I like it! Great thoughts.

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  4. I take one of my four children out to run errands and spend time together on Saturday afternoon (while my husband is with the other 3 - I rotate through children every month). Occasionally we will go out for a treat, or I will buy a special toy, etc. But we have a rule that says that if they ask for a treat, they automatically don't get one - these are to be gifts initiated from the heart of the giver, not from a request of the recipient. I have found that this helps to curb the entitlement feelings, and allows me to give a gift out of love and not obligation.

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    1. Thanks Sunnid. I love what you're doing. I know that many parents will be blessed by this example.

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  5. This is awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your family story. I know that many parents will be blessed. We're going to have a discussion about parenting teens over the coming weeks. Do you have any additional wisdom for us about parenting teens?

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    1. For us, I noticed that the teenage years often brought that annoying, monosyllable or even sarcastic response to daily interactions. I would let my teen know that manners are still important as an "adult", and that being respectful includes gracious responses to questions. If necessary, I might point out that we like a home where everyone cares about each other and not a house where we act like "junk yard dogs."

      After having spelled it out clearly and politely, I would then work to model extreme politeness in my interactions with that teen for a while. Seeing me be sincere and polite made a difference to them, and would help them be respectful and polite in return.

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    2. Modeling is a great strategy for almost any parenting issue. I like how you practiced "extreme politeness." I'm going to have to remember that. I really like that. Most parents pile on the yelling and consequences at this point. I like the idea of modeling the behavior. Thanks for sharing, Janelle.

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  6. Thanks Janelle! I really like that idea - especially giving to those who serve - we often think to give to the needy, which is important, but giving to those who serve is also very thoughtful - like the nurses who work so hard - often giving up family time to serve others. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. We're going to be focusing on parenting teens over the coming weeks. Be sure to sign up for the webinar on Tuesday Dec. 1 at 9:00 pm EST. You may also want to share this with your friends. Register here: http://biblicalparenting.org/registerforwebinar/

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