Have you ever given a gift to a young teen and watched her face draw up with an expression that was half irritation and half mockery, vividly showing her distain for your stupid choice? If so, that was probably the last gift she ever got from you. Many parents constantly endure the face of an ungrateful child. Mother buys her an orange hat, and she pouts up because she bought the wrong color. Mom decides to delight the children by picking up a hamburger for everybody at the drive-through, but they start demanding to go into a restaurant and eat something different. When Mom takes a minute to go out and play with the kids, they complain that Mom is pushing Suzy higher than the rest of them. Their parents love them, but don’t really like the selfish little brats. They are ashamed of their feelings of repulsion for their own children, but, hey, I don’t like ungrateful little people either.

Gratefulness is something kids learn by example: “Show me how you respond, and I will do it just like you.”

I’m not real fond of “big” people, either,  who are openly ungrateful. Are you?  So, purge unthankfulness from your home by starting with yourself. Kids are great emulators.

By Shalom Brand

Gracie will be turning three in October. I told my mom last week that I was going to start schooling her this year, and Mom said, “You have been schooling her for almost three years now.” We get a lot of letters from young moms asking how to go about homeschooling their little ones. When a child is young, the parents’ training, teaching, and schooling is just a part of everyday life. At this age, a child’s brain is just a big sponge, and whatever you put there is what they will know. You might think they are too young to understand, but they are constantly learning things by building on what they already know.

I started teaching Gracie her letters when she was a new-born. I would say, “Look Gracie, this is your name, and this is the letter A.” She would just look up at me and grunt, but I knew that someday she would smile and identify the letter “A”. I was laying a foundation—for me, as well as for her. In everything we do, I am teaching her. “This is a blue blanket, a yellow balloon, a green shirt.”  Never would I simply say, “This is a shirt, or that is a toy.” Everything has an opposite or contrast to something else, or a specific color, or it is long or short, or it matches this or that. Things are always described as “two toys”, or “one” car and “three” trucks, and on it goes. It never seemed odd to me that my two-year-old could read her letters and know all her colors, even differentiating between colors like peach and rose. As I write this, Gracie is sitting on the floor playing with Play-Dough and talking, “This is green pie and a blue plate setting on a white floor. Look, Mama, your skirt matches my shirt. I am making a round ball, but it looks like a square instead.”

Everyone laughed at me the day I went out and bought a bunch of Dollar Store school books when she was just a baby, and especially as I started going through them with her. But I just laughed right back, because I was having fun, and I was teaching my little girl how to read. She will always love to learn, because it has always been so much fun.

At work, she sits on my lap and watches me as I fill CD cases here at No Greater Joy. I count out loud, “There are one, two, three CDs in this case.”  It never slows me down from my work, and counting is now a normal part of her life. If I had put her down on the floor to play and not talked to her, she would not have learned anything except that Mama’s hands move very fast. Following the scriptural pattern, I continually pour into her life “here a little and there a little”. Over time, it has added up to quite a lot, with virtually no effort at all.

Isaiah 28:10  “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”