The Gift of Self-Denial That Leads to Gratitude

By Susie Larson
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Luke Flowers
You might be surprised at how self-denial actually leads to gratitude.

We do our kids a great service when we help them practice the virtue of self-restraint. God gives us so many good things to enjoy: fudge sundaes, trendy outfits, shiny bicycles and more. But they are life’s desserts, not the main course.

They are worth waiting for and working for. It’s not a bad thing to let our kids go without something they want. These are necessary growth moments for developing grounded, grateful kids.

Learning to say no

I tell my boys that practicing restraint is like exercising a muscle. The more we say no to some desire, the easier it is to say no to something that is appealing but harmful when it really matters. Occasionally, one of them would get overly attached to a toy or video game. It seemed he had to have that object or game to be OK.

But I knew he would be OK without it, and I set about to prove it to him. “I think it’s time to fast from this game for a while,” I’d say.

Gasping, my son would plead, “No! I love it! No, please, Mom!”

“Honey, you are stronger than you think,” I’d say. “You think you can’t live without this game. I know you can. Nothing on earth should have this kind of power over you.”

Getting past the pain

It was difficult watching each son go through times of withdrawal. But they eventually found something else to do. It’s an amazing phenomenon: Once you get past the pain of self-denial, there’s actually relief on the other side.

My boys discovered that they didn’t need a toy to be OK. And when they finally did get their toy back, something beautiful happened: They were grateful. Once my boys realized they could live without something, they rarely returned to their unhealthy affection for it.

Susie Larson is a radio host, national speaker and author of several books, including Growing Grateful Kids.

© 2017 by Susie Larson. Used by Permission.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Susie Larson

Susie Larson is a talk radio host, a public speaker and a best-selling author of more than a dozen books including Your Powerful Prayers, Growing Grateful Kids and Embracing Your Freedom. She hosts her own daily live talk show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson, and formerly hosted Focus on the Family’s daily talk show Everyday Relationships With Dr. Greg …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.