Creative discipline

Here are some suggestions to help you encourage a spirit of gratitude in your children.

Biblical basis

The story of Job helps us put complaining in perspective. First, most of Job’s possessions (oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels and servants) were destroyed or stolen. Then all his sons and daughters were killed in a windstorm. And this happened all on the same day (Job 1:13-20)! From a human point of view, it may seem as though Job had a pretty good reason to complain or whine, but God didn’t think so (Job 40:1-9).

Job 40:1-9 “And the Lord said to Job: ‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.’ Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.’ Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to Me. Will you even put Me in the wrong? Will you condemn Me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?’

Suggested disciplinary action

Enforce a zero tolerance policy for complaining or having an ungrateful, It’s not fair! attitude. Each time one of your children whines or complains, come up with a logical disciplinary consequence. For example:

  • If your child complains about loading dishes into the dishwasher, have your child wash the dishes by hand. Afterwards, have him or her thank God for dishwashers.
  • If your child moans about having to pick up their toys, confiscate the toys and keep them aside for a day or two. Have your child spend time thanking God for all the toys he or she has been blessed with.
  • If your child whines because a sibling received a bigger piece of cake, remove his or her dessert as a reminder to be grateful for what he or she has been given.

Explain to your child that complaining is indirectly telling God that you don’t believe He is good. Whining is the same as questioning God’s choices for your life situation. God did not like it when Job questioned His justice (Job 19:6-7, 27:2, 40:1-9). Job realized this and humbly apologized (Job 42:1-3). God is good and the Bible tells us to thank Him for His goodness.

Pray with your child, thanking God for His love and goodness. Encourage your child to ask God to forgive their ungratefulness and help them have a thankful heart.

Relevant Scripture

1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.