Instilling Contentment in Our Kids (And Myself)


If I’m being transparent, here’s an area where I struggle. No, not instilling contentment in my kids…being content myself. But guess what I’m dealing with in my kids? Contentment. Covetousness. Entitlement. Don’t you hate it when you see in your kids what you dislike about yourself? I have been doing some research and have found help for my youngsters and myself. Let’s start with the kids (just because it makes me feel better).

It starts early with children and it sounds like “I want…” and if left unchecked can be followed by pouting, tantrums, and misbehavior. The mistake we make is often negotiating a “false peace” of accommodation to avoid conflict. (Here is a great post on parenting when it’s inconvenient). I find myself asking the oldest to give up the toy the toddler wants to keep the toddler happy. Pretty lousy parenting, huh? Other than me being a better, more diligent, and intentional parent, here are two practical steps we can take to protect our kids from discontentedness:

  1. Proactively teach our kids to share, not in a negotiation. Teach the act of giving and the enjoyment it can bring. Start with giving toys away to the less fortunate and later give what we have, including our time. It’s important to remember the lesson is enhanced when something is given that is still valued by the giver.
  2. Defend our kids from the onslaught of advertisements. Our kids are the objects of millions of dollars of marketing dollars, and according to Alissa Quart, “Teen-oriented brands now aim to register so strongly in kids’ minds that the appeal will remain for life.” It’s not uncommon in our house for a child to see an advertisement and point out, “They’re just trying to get our money.”

Now for me.

C.J. Mahaney has authored a book that has helped me immensely entitled, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. In it he recommends steps that have helped me considerably on my journey. Here are five:

  • Consider your true riches
  • Confess and repent
  • Express specific gratitude
  • De-materialize your life
  • Give generously

My prayer is that this issue is foreign to you and your kids. If not, my prayer for all of us is that we can learn to rejoice in what we have!

We’re in this together!


Excerpts borrowed from Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World by C.J. Mahaney.

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→