Written by JEANNENE S. for Who’s Teaching the Babies?®

Taking out of the Heart vs. Putting in the Heart: this is the question I often come to at my wit’s end with my little one’s attitude, and quite honestly, my own attitude. When I’ve coped with an attitude long enough, and it is looking at me square in the face—I just want to Do Something about it! So what do I do? Do I attempt to take out and do a little spring cleaning of my heart or that of my son’s, or do I surrender to my loving Father God so He can begin to… put in. Oh, I know He does clean out, or purify, and I too often like to “help” Him—especially at my wit’s end—but what I’ve noticed is that most times purification looks like leading us to water and then washing us by pouring in and over.

It’s not just the absence of certain mindsets or heart conditions that leads us to purity—uninterrupted oneness with God and His nature—but it is most importantly the surrendering to the presence of His ways and nature in us that leads us to a place of purity and wholeness. This is what abiding in Him—and He in us—looks like.


So, how do we surrender to God changing us and leading us—and even our loved ones? The Bible says, “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23, NRSV). Here God reminds that the “right way” begins with thanksgiving to Him for what He has done, and who He is. When our hearts and minds are thankful for who He is, His Truth, and what He has done, our eyes (and our actions) stay fixed on the “right way.”

Professor, researcher and author Giacomo Bono, in his article, “5 Ways Science Increases Gratitude & Well-Being,” demonstrates the benefits and necessity of gratitude and being purposeful about thankfulness. He states, “Research shows that people with grateful personalities tend to have more prosocial qualities such as empathy, forgiveness, and willingness to help others.”[1] He links this to having a direct positive effect on building healthy communities—treating others and even yourself better.[2] If that wasn’t enough of a reason to be thankful, he mentions that there are even more benefits of gratitude, “such as better and longer sleep, improved coping with stress, more engaged students and less burnout among employees.”[3] Wow! You might say to yourself, “Ok, I will try to incorporate into my life more gratitude, but I don’t always remember, or it is not always easy for me in the midst of situations.” Giacomo Bono offers relief for us all here, “Even if you’re not a highly grateful person, research also shows that gratitude tends to be one of the easiest character strengths to grow.” How awesome is it that the first step of going “the right way,” whether with our relationship with God or one another, is also the easiest to do and grow? We can partner with God building Kingdom character in our lives and the lives of those around us by simply starting with, “Thank you.” Those old attitudes whether in the life of your growing child, or in you, can be re-routed by practicing and demonstrating, meaningful thankfulness, one step at a time.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18, NRSV).

The author, Giacomo Bono, gives tips in his article based on scientific research, and I have modified and included those below.

First steps to becoming more grateful:


  • Keep a journal of counting your blessings (I have done this, and we do this for our son).
  • Write down 3 good things each day and recognize those that have contributed to those things.
  • Spend time writing a meaningful thank you letter.
  • Ask God who you could pray for or what you could do for another.

And one that my family practices when we hear ourselves or our little boy using an attitude,


  • Think of 3 things right now you are thankful for.

Giacomo Bono has also co-authored a book with professor, psychologist, and researcher Jeffrey Froh, titled, Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character.

[1] Giacomo Bono, “5 Ways Science Increases Gratitude & Well-Being,” Biola University Center for Christian Thought, last modified June 16, 2014,

[2] Giacomo Bono, “5 Ways Science Increases Gratitude & Well-Being,” Biola University Center for Christian Thought, last modified June 16, 2014,

[3] Giacomo Bono, “5 Ways Science Increases Gratitude & Well-Being,” Biola University Center for Christian Thought, last modified June 16, 2014,


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