This is the third post in my series "Virtues in Focus."
Click here to read the rest.
We Choose Virtue’s catchphrase for contentment is “I am content. I have my wanter under control.” I am comforted by the idea that we can teach our children to keep their wants, their desires in check.
My children are still very young, and “I want” is not really an issue yet. I hope that it won’t be! I believe that talking about it now and doing some preventive work will help our family glide over it. The most important thing to remember is to model contentment for our children. Here are more ideas to get all of us going.
Have a “gratitude attitude”
We learned this rhyming phrase from Heart Shapers’ Cherub Wings video series. When we are grateful, we feel happy and content for what we have and we don’t feel the need to have more, more, and more! (On a side note, we like Cherub Wings so much that we have made it available in our online shop.)
I have several older siblings, and it is normal for my children to receive hand-me down things: clothes, books, and toys. I love receiving such gifts. Our children get the opportunity to be grateful for their cousins’ generosity, and we are also inspired to be generous ourselves. It is part of our family’s schedule to sort our things every quarter and to give what we don’t need to my children’s younger cousins or to the family of two girls that Little T is friends with. Except for books, we don’t really keep much of our things. Generosity breeds generosity!
Say “No!” to the mall
I personally don’t like going to malls, and I especially don’t like bringing my kids when I do have to go to one. This almost zero exposure to the shopping culture has protected my children from wanting all the non-essential material things out there. It is sometimes a challenge to think of places to bring the kids, but simple joys like neighborhood walks and playing with their cousins are more beneficial than over-stimulating public places.
For our week focused on contentment, we read the following books:
- Help Me Be Good: A Book About Whining by Joy Berry - The Help Me Be Good series is published by Scholastic.It covers topics such as bullying, laziness, being greedy, and being bossy. Read more about it here.
- The Giant Turnip: A Book About Generosity and Greed - Part of the Time Life series about values education. We like this particular book because the story about greed is very clear and easy to comprehend.
- The Biggest House in the World by Leo Lionni - A snail wants to have "the biggest house in the world" but his dad tells him the story of another snail who did have the biggest house - and ended up unable to move and eat because of it. A clear lesson on contentment.
- Ms Bilberry’s New House by Emma Chichester Clarke – Miss Bilberry is very happy with her life, her house, her dog, and her two birds Chitty and Chatty. But she keeps wondering about what it would be like to live on the other side of the mountain. This story teaches us that sometimes, we already have what we are looking for, and we need to be content to fully enjoy it.
- A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson – A hilarious book that has been Little T’s favorite since she was two, “A Squash and a Squeeze” is the story of an old woman who thinks her house too little. On the advice of the wise old man, she brings farmyard animals to live with her. She soon realizes that her house is not small after all.
- It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach – A Caldecott Honor Book, “It Could Always Be Worse” is a Yiddish folk tale that is similar to A Squash and a Squeeze. (Thank you Teacher Mama Tina for lending this to us!)
- Tight Times by Jeanette C. Patindol - A family has less of everything because the father lost his job - but they are grateful for what they are still able to enjoy.
- Just Enough and Not Too Much by Kaethe Zemach - Discovered this on my nephew's shelf while I was hunting for books to borrow from my sister's home library. This made my daughter laugh because "he's so silly to have so many chairs." Food for thought for those who collect so many things!