Visit for parenting workshops, parent coaching & children's activities!
Nov. 7, 2022

Episode 72:Teaching Children Gratitude with Wanda Luthman

In this episode DJ and her guest, multi award winning children's author, Wanda Luthman, talk about the importance of gratitude, how we can make it a part of our family culture, and about teaching our children to have grateful hearts. Tune in to hear how studies have shown that living in gratitude has a profound effect on our emotional and spiritual well being, how it strengthens relationships and the effects it can have on our physical well being too.

Wanda Luthman is an international multi-award-winning author. She’s been a Christian since she was 3 years old, was baptized at 12 years old, and attended a Christian College in the Midwest double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. She has practiced in the field of counseling for over 20 years. But, she felt she really “met” God in her late 40’s when her Pastor taught her contemplative listening which is a Christian form of meditation. Since then, she’s been on a mission to share God’s love with everyone she meets.

• [11:14] Wanda explains when & why she started paying attention to what happened each day that she could be grateful for.
• [16:52] Wanda tells DJ how we can help build thoughtfulness into children by encouraging them to think about other people and do something kind for them.
• [18:22] “If you don't stop and pay attention to it, you wind up taking it for granted.”
• [23:05] “When you look back, you can see… Wow! That really was instrumental in bringing me to who I am today.”

For more information on the Imperfect Heroes podcast, visit:

Connect with Us!

DJ Stutz -
DJ Stutz:

Wanda Luthman -


Unknown Speaker  0:14  
We think you should know that Imperfect Heroes podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA.

DJ Stutz  0:23  
You're listening to Episode 72 of Imperfect Heroes, Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world, and I'm your host DJ Stutz. Wanda Luthman is a multi award winning children's author who uses her expertise in both mental health and guidance counseling to infuse each of her children's stories with social emotional messages, such as forgiveness, perseverance, self acceptance, and love conquering evil. She writes fantasy adventure stories that show lives being changed by the magic of love. She continues to work as a guidance counselor in sunny Florida. She loves the outdoors and finds it a great inspiration, whether she's riding her bike swimming, or whacking her books, and they she has several of them are available in many formats. You can get them in hardcover, you can get them in paperback ebook and audio even. And among her many titles are the lilac Princess, the Turtles, magical adventure, Gloria and the unicorn, little birdie grows up, and Sophia and the Christmas Eve, snow bunny, and the real gift. And there's so much to learn. So let's get started.

Wanda, and I had an amazing talk. And it's perfect, because we were talking about gratitude, and the importance of gratitude, not just in ourselves. But in our children. I can attest that when I found my grateful heart and truly incorporated it into my life. It changed everything, my marriage improved, my work associations improved, my parenting greatly improved. And I am so grateful to have the experiences that I did, that brought me to that moment, when I realized I needed more gratitude in my life. I was going through actually a long stretch of difficult things happening in my life. And part of it was the adoption of our youngest daughter. And things were just really, really stressful. And I didn't feel like I had a valuable outlet for all of these negative feelings and stress triggers and all of these things that were going on in my life. And a friend of mine said, You need to just write these down, write them down in a book, you don't show anybody. But then by writing them, you'll be able to process it. And it made sense. And actually, that is an excellent strategy for a lot of people. For me, it was not an excellent strategy. For me, I found that I was focusing way too much on all the negativity that was going on around me. And not entirely seeing the way that I was contributing to that negativity. One day, I had just an amazing thought popped into my head. And it was that of, instead of concentrating on the negative, you need to concentrate on the positive. So instead of looking for things to be angry about and writing them in there, I made a conscious effort to begin looking for things that were amazing and happening in my life in a positive way. So whether it was someone just I had my blinker on, and they gave me room and let me in on traffic to I got a phone call from a friend that was wonderful. Maybe it was even just a smile that someone gave me when I was just feeling down. All these little things happen. Well, there's something that happened though, during all of that. I had a particularly difficult day. It was really tough. And I sat down that evening to write and I thought I have nothing to be grateful for right now. And a thought came into my head and whatever you want to call it. I'm going to call it the Holy Ghost you call But whatever you want it, but the thought came into my head, how dare you, you have a roof over your head, you have a husband that is faithful and loving, and works hard to provide for the family, you have a job that you actually enjoy. Your kids are all healthy, and your siblings, your family is all healthy. There are so many things, I actually had so much food that weights an issue. All of these things were going on that were just amazing for me and my family. And I was taking it all for granted. So sometimes maybe you do want to just write, I have a roof over my head, I'm not running around naked. And trust me, everyone's going to be happy for that. But what are the things that you can be grateful for and on really hard days, that's when it becomes the best benefit. So let's go ahead and listen into my conversation with Wanda. 

Welcome, everyone, and thank you for choosing to spend some time with us today. I have an amazing guest, she writes children's books on values. And you know, if you've been listening to me for very long, I really believe that teaching our children's values is so important. It's not something they're just going to learn on their own. It's something we have to overtly teach them. So Wanda Luthman, thank you for being a part of this, why don't you share a little bit about what you have going on?

Wanda Luthman  6:38  
Okay, thank you for having me. I am a high school guidance counselor by day, and my job is exciting, because every day, it's different. I don't know what exactly is gonna walk through the door and what sort of issues may arise and you know, the different tasks at hand. While I know like, this season, we do this, and this season, we do that it's just always different. And I love it. And of course, I love getting to know the students and helping them through high school as well as helping them, you know, figure out what they want to do after high school. So it's, it's a great job, I love my job.

DJ Stutz  7:20  
That's amazing. And now you have this series of books, how many books do you currently have in your series?

Wanda Luthman  7:26  
You know, I forget, I think I have about 13, I think is where I'm at. So I know, I have three chapter books for ages like seven through 11. And then or maybe, I don't know, I've lost track 4567 At least seven off the top of my head that are picture books for like zero through eight, in there, too. And then I have two biblical fiction books that aren't really for children, but they're not an older child might enjoy it that middle grades or something higher and higher, but it's really more targeted for adults.

DJ Stutz  8:09  
Well, how exciting. Well, I know that your children's books, and this is kind of what grabbed my attention. You really talk about values and learning values. And today, the value that we were going to talk about is that of gratitude. And so we know that people, including children, who live in gratitude, actually have fewer mental health problems, they are able to actually fight depression and lessen the effects of that in their lives. If they can find a way to live in gratitude. You've got better relationships with your family and with your friends and making more friends. And you your own self esteem really improves when you're living in gratitude. Now, there's also a bunch of research out there that is starting to show the physical effects of living in gratitude that people who are grateful or children who are grateful have a better outlook on survivorship and that they can heal. And they're starting to really look into that and get some data on that. So it's really beneficial in so many ways. Think of the marriages that we could save if we could just live in gratitude with one another, you know, so yeah, sure. What what are some things are some of the things that you've seen that help little kids show their own gratitude.

Wanda Luthman  9:58  
But when I was thinking hearing about this topic. For me, I learned this very important lesson as an adult I, I had been married previously, and I was not happy. And obviously, I was complaining quite a bit to my coworker who was a good friend of mine. And she finally I think, got tired of listening to me. And so she said, You know what you should do, you should keep a gratitude journal. And she, she sold me on the idea. Yeah. And at the time, I didn't, I wasn't into writing things on paper. And so I started keeping them on the computer, there was a little app where I could do that. And when I started, it was the simple things, you know, thank you, for my mom and dad, thank you, I have a job, you know, my house, my friends, my parents, my siblings, blah, blah, blah, you know, it's like, the obvious things. And I think the idea was, do like five, do five. And so after several days of like, all the obvious things, you know, it was like, Okay, I don't want to keep saying the obvious things. So I started paying attention to each day, and what happened in that day that I could be grateful for, and it might be really minor, like so and so smiled at me today. But that smile meant something. To me. It wasn't, it wasn't just Oh, somebody's mouth is just somebody's mouth. And that smile, actually, you know, touched me inside. And I was grateful for it. And just other things. And so the cool thing about that exercise is, as I started paying attention every day, to something that happened that day, I could be thankful for I started seeing more and more things. It wasn't just five, I could come up with 10, and then 15. And then then I could live in gratitude. And I wasn't so focused on the things that were upsetting me and hurting me. And not only was it good to not be just focused on that, but by living in gratitude, I was more empowered to handle the things that weren't going right. So that was a long story, to bring it down to, you know, children, if children can write, I would encourage a local gratitude journal and just start with five things or three, or one thing, you know, and if they can't, right, it could just be a conversation. It could even be like a dinner table conversation. Hey, what are you thankful for today? Just sort of helping them think about it, writing it down is powerful. I do believe in, you know, the power of words, and the writers being an author and everything. But um, yeah, so if they can write I would, I would definitely encourage them to, to write but if not, you know, just stating it is is really powerful, too.

DJ Stutz  13:08  
Yeah, I agree. And even if they're really young, you can, they can draw a picture. And it may just be a scribble to you buy, it's something important to them. And then they can tell you what it's about. And you can make a note at the bottom, and maybe include that in a little journal that you're putting together for them. So can you be bound journal, or it can be a little three ring binder that you're putting it in? Whatever works for you and your family is awesome. But I really love the idea of getting the little kids in foster effect. It's funny, I was just having the conversation with a friend of mine today. And we were talking about how precious the prayers are, you know, when they get your little kids and they say their nighttime prayers. Yeah. And she was laughing because her little daughter said a prayer. And she was and thank you that we had chips out lunch today. And thank you that I got to play on the trampoline. And it was just so cute. But I think that listening to those prayers of little children, at least for me when I had my little guys and they were little very healing

Wanda Luthman  14:36  
Yeah, after the Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I love that. And you know, when you are teaching them to pray, you know, we are taught to thank the Lord for things to start off with that there's power, when we are thankful to God and for whatever the gifts the day you know, brought and so teaching that and then having Mmm do that in a prayer that that is just, you know, precious and and so, so good for them you're building you're building great stepping stones in there for life in no grade.

DJ Stutz  15:13  
And I think to something that when it's integrated as part of your familial culture. Yeah, I knew I know one family, I did not do this, but but every day at dinner, it was tradition that you had to notice. Something somebody did for you that day, a kindness that you received from someone else. Often, I think we miss out on that someone, like you said earlier just smiled at Newars that high or you're driving in traffic, and you got to get in the next lane and someone actually let your wins. Yeah, so they had to acknowledge one thing that someone did for them that day. And one thing they did for someone else, so they took it that next step. And that's kind of what I missed out on when my kids were younger. But taking it to that next step, so that both things were being addressed.

Wanda Luthman  16:22  
No, I love that. I think that is awesome. Because we do sometimes take things for granted like that, like you said, Somebody let you in, in traffic. And you know, you might wave and go on and not give it another thought. But if I like that, if it's part of your, you know, dinnertime talk or whatever. And you can recall that I think that is so powerful. And then yeah, I love it that they also included, what did you do? Because it does build that thoughtfulness in to children to think about other people and do something time for them.

DJ Stutz  16:59  
Yeah. It is kind of funny that when they know that this is an expectation for them. And if they couldn't think of anything, they were like, Well wait, while you're thinking, Yeah, cuz I know there's something that happened today. And yeah, so then, of course, if they want to get up and go on, after dinner, they knew how I better have some days. And so they were looking for it. And now once you start really looking for the goodness around you, for whatever reason, I don't think reason really matters any. But the fact that you're really looking for that generosity and that kindness and and the things that are going on around you, you're gonna see it.

Wanda Luthman  17:44  
Yeah, I agree. I agree. Like you said, when they know they're gonna have to say something, they'll start looking and paying attention. And when that's your eyes focus throughout the day, you are gonna see it and you're gonna see way more than one, you know, yeah, a lot of a lot of things just like my gratitude journal, when I started paying attention. I was easy to go beyond five and then beyond 10. It's like, oh, all this happened. And all this happened. And it was amazing. Yeah, you know, you really feel you feel God's love, you know, showering you throughout the day. And if you don't stop and pay attention to it, you wind up taking it for granted. And then not even thinking it's anything. Yeah, no. And I love that quote that says you can think some something about that miracles never happen, or that miracles happen every day. Yeah. Because when you think about well, just waking up is a miracle. You know, it's all about focus, if you're focusing on the good and what's happening. You'll see it all day long.

DJ Stutz  18:53  
Yeah, I had there was an older guy I used to work with at one of the schools I taught at and yeah, I don't know. He's probably my age. He seems so old.  yeah. No, you. He was kind of a grumpy a show guy. But he had that. Sly sense of humor. You know what I mean? Yeah. Not nearly as grumpy as he'd put himself out there to be. But yeah, you'd say hey, Sal, how you doing? He goes, I woke up today couldn't ask for more. And that was his answer every time. Today couldn't ask for more. So but maybe it could be worse. It always could be.

Wanda Luthman  19:43  
This is true. This is very true. It and

DJ Stutz  19:47  
I don't think it means ignoring or denying the hard things that are surely going to come.

Wanda Luthman  19:55  
Right to come. Yeah, just as part of like, the array and you really don't want to deny your true feelings or pretend that something isn't hard or you're not in pain. I mean, that is that's legitimate, you know, and it's, it is certainly fine to address it and talk about it, it does not mean to bury any of that that would not be healthy. Right? It's just you don't want to spend your time totally focusing on that and forgetting the good that's going on. right alongside of it, you know?

DJ Stutz  20:29  
Yeah. Yeah. To have all of your focus on the problem, the problem, the problem. And I don't know, if you're gonna get to finding the answer, to working through that problem. If your whole focus is just on the problem, the problem, there's also that, yeah, I have this big problem. But I have this dog that she can tell when I'm not happy, or when I'm stressed. And she comes up and snuggles me. And it makes me feel so much better, you know, wish that I have a dog like that. But

Wanda Luthman  21:06  
dogs are amazing. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  21:09  
But it can help you actually think through the problem. Put it in the right perspective. Yeah, this is very hard for right now. And we've got to figure things out. But I am grateful that I have a brain that I can process things I'm grateful that I have friends or family that I can bounce ideas off of, and that have my best interests at heart. And, and they can help me through it. And so, and how many times have, and I say this about all kinds of things in my life, but the hard things, were really things that got us to a better place. Yes, you know, we're stronger. Or we it, we left that job, and we're jobless for a little bit and you're in a panic and whatever. But then this better job comes along. How many times has that happened?

Wanda Luthman  22:15  
Yeah, more often than not, you know, does it does it really turn usually something that is very hard. And I remember one time, expressing something that was very hard to someone in my past. And then they said, but you also look back at that time as really this wonderful time in your life. And it's kind of weird, it's more on the hind side, when you're looking back at the good alongside the bad and, and where the bad took you to if you allowed it to make you better, you know, and you you worked at growing through that challenge, instead of allowing it to overtake you, in that you allowed it to help you grow. Then when you look back, you can see Wow, that really was instrumental, and to actually bringing me to who I am today. And even though that wasn't fun, I'm grateful for it, because it made me who I am today. And that that's hard to say when you're going through it, right. But once you get through it, and you're looking back, often that's your feeling towards that experience,

DJ Stutz  23:31  
right? You know, and sometimes being able to say, Oh, this is going to be a story to tell

a friend, this is back when we were young, and our kids are all playing together. And her little girl was on one, like in a tantrum and yelling and angry and whatever. And we just started getting those cell phones that you can take pictures with. She pulled out her phone and took a picture and looked at me and she said that's going in the wedding video

could always make me laugh, like, yeah, you know, even when things were crazy, and little kids can wear us out and make it hard.

Wanda Luthman  24:27  
Yeah, they sure can. Yeah. And it really is kind of that long view. Like, you know, this is a temper tantrum and it's not very fun right now. But hey, it's going in that readings. Which means you know, this isn't gonna last forever and we're gonna get through this and life will be okay. Yeah, and love that.

DJ Stutz  24:47  
Yeah, I really liked that. One of the things that I really like about working with our kids and teaching them gratitude is putting that gratitude into action. In. So when we lived in Denver, so if anyone's been listening for a while, you might be aware that I just retired from teaching my husband's working remotely. We sold our home in Littleton Colorado, just outside of Denver. And we're building a home in the eastern middle of nowhere, I've always been a big town girl. So this will be an adventure for me, but I think it will be a great one. Anyway, we had these neighbors that lived next door to us in Littleton, and they had these three adorable little girls. And sometimes Russ and I would just sit in the backyard on the deck, and listen to them playing, you know, just such a lovely sound. And, and the girls got along, you rarely heard them arguing. And when I said that to their dad, they're like, Oh, really, I can't believe they argue all the time. I don't hear it.

I hear happy playing. But the oldest. And I think she got an assignment from school at one point, but I came home and there was a note in my screen door and the front. Oh, what did my dog do now? I opened up the note, and it was from their oldest daughter. And it just said, Thank you for being such a good neighbor. And always. What was it like always laughing at our jokes or something like that? And so of course, I made cookies and took them over. Yeah, of course. That was like, You have no idea how that made my day. Right?

Yeah. Then she made a point of doing it. Like every, it wasn't all the time, maybe three or four months, and I'd come home. And there'd be another note on the door. I saved them all. But oh, yeah. But I think taking the time to put that gratitude into action. For right, and it's such a right thing to do with our kids. Yeah, what are some of the things that you have in your little idea treasure box that might give our parents some ideas?

Wanda Luthman  27:21  
Well, I'm what I think of is usually somewhere along the way, during the school year, a teacher will have students write thank you notes to other staff in the school, sometimes it they choose their guidance counselor, and sometimes they choose another teacher or coach, or, you know, the custodian or whoever the principal. And so you'll find in your box, you know, several thank you notes, you know, and I remember one time, a boy wrote me a thank you note, and it was, you know, like, all I had done was help him change his schedule to get in a better situation and whatnot, he had had a really, really tough time, a family member had actually died from COVID. And then they had to move and but anyway, and he talked about how he went through a really rough year, and he just appreciated me, and I cried, I cried, when I read that. And it just beautiful to hear somebody that you you've touched in some way. And you know, I know we have the Teacher Appreciation Week, you know, and in May, which is kind of prescribed or whatever. And those are great. It is great to get cards and things during that time. But it's really good to do it some other unexpected time. Like you said, You came home, there's this little note stuffed in your door, you know. And so I really do like that idea of writing a little thank you note, per a personal thank you note to you know, somebody in their life that they appreciate that. That is huge. I mean, we have lost the art of writing cards, anniversary cards, and we would do thank you notes. And we used to know how to address and how to sign and all of that. I don't even think that's taught anymore. And people don't think about it. They just shoot off a quick text or an email or whatever. And that's fine, too. I mean, even an email that says thank you is very well appreciated and everything. So but but I do like the idea of a thank you card too. Too an adult in their life that

DJ Stutz  29:33  
and it doesn't have to be a store bought car. No, just something that they made on their own. In fact, that's more meaningful.

Wanda Luthman  29:41  
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I love those.

DJ Stutz  29:44  
You know about the love languages, right? Yeah. So it took me a long time to get mine figured out but it's time. And so when I see that someone took the time to do that and to make it And you could tell she'd really worked on it. And, but those are those are really special things. And they're things that don't cost you anything to do.

Wanda Luthman  30:09  
Right. Right. Even if you're right, it's not about the money. It's, you know, really a storebought gift has less meaning than something heartfelt. Yeah, that is expressed, you know? Yeah. I love that.

DJ Stutz  30:25  
Yeah. And I love that you mentioned the teachers, because teaching is really hard. And it can be I taught kindergarten so well, it was hard, because I I mostly taught in the lowest income school in the district. And I just kind of specialized in low income. And there were years I had, I had kids that would just stab another kid with the pencil because they didn't get the marker they wanted or, and as you see the lives of these little guys and trying to make sense. And they were having to deal with problems. Adults don't handle well. Right. And so instead of, you know, getting mad or whatever, at that my heart would just break at what's going on in this child's life, and how can I help them? So in that way, yeah, it was very hard. And it could be emotionally very draining, but was so sweet was one time we were having parent teacher conferences, and there was a dad who worked at a bar, he was bartender and he said, don't eat dinner, don't eat the crap they're bringing in. Make the best burgers in town. When I come in. By parent teacher conference. I'm bringing your burger I'm like, but yeah, I mean, just sweet little things are a kid who had one year I had. We were doing a unit on the ocean. And the kids were really excited about it. And the mom came in with a kid, you know, you they line up outside and mom was waiting there and, and she came up to you she was I hope you're not offended. And I'm like, what? She's what we were out at the store. And Johnny said, he found this, and he was going into the histrionics because he had to buy it for you. It had an octopus on it. We're we're learning about the ocean. But it was called Lip shit. I love it. It's great. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I love it. So and those are great stories and great ways to show you know. Another thing that I have a niece who she's got two little boys, and they think it's hysterical. But they will go to the library often check out books, you know, and they bring them home. And before they take them back, her kids will either draw a little picture on a sticky note, or they will come up with that. They aren't writing yet. But they would come up with things to say, you know, and they would put it on a sticky note inside the book, before they took it back so that they would never know who got to see the note or what their reaction was. Yeah, they're so excited, you know, to do something, and how fun would that be? And but what a great way to make someone stay.

Wanda Luthman  34:01  
It's like, those random acts of kindness that we used to hear about that's kind of like that. You don't know who it's gonna blast, but you just do it, you know, and you just get that good in the world. And you don't know it might touch somebody who was having a bad day that day, and it'd be amazing. And or somebody who just thinks it's awesome, too, and passes it on. It does something like that for others, you know, that would be really, really cool.

DJ Stutz  34:30  
There's there's such value in doing something for someone and they don't know that you're the one who did it.

Wanda Luthman  34:38  
Yeah, yeah, for sure.

DJ Stutz  34:41  
Yeah. So when I was in high school, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. I was a cheerleader and I was too good for this group or whatever. Right? It was one of those brats. And one morning my mom Um, came in and she said Deej this was out on the front porch. And I don't know who it's from. All it says is for DJ. Hmm, I was like, it was a beautiful bouquet of flowers just

Wanda Luthman  35:13  
wow. Beautiful. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  35:16  
And so I had no idea who, who gave that to me. Well, it wasn't until years later, like I was married, right? Yeah. And I went to a college football game. And I saw one of my old friends from high school. And he said, Do you remember those flowers that you described them? Like? Yeah, because I was the one who gave them to you. Oh, that was so nice. Because no, no, no, no. The best part was watching you Be nice to everyone afterwards.

Oh, what a lesson to have to learn.

Wanda Luthman  36:07  
Wow. But I love that. And, you know, I tried to do that, too. If we our house, actually, I live in Florida and actually flooded during Hurricane Wilma. Sorry. And thank you, it's okay now, but we didn't have flood insurance. And people that I didn't know, just things just came out of the woodwork where people, you know, gave us money and different things that really helped us through that really difficult time. And I loved that. It was people I didn't know it. And it was so from that, that was kind of one of those random acts of kindness that got to me. So in the future when I was able to help people, I would, but I would do it anonymously, enough. So that would be just a little envelope of money through someone else. I would say don't tell them, you know, who it's from, or whatever. And just bless people. I love that. It's, it's a neat thing to be able to do.

DJ Stutz  37:08  
Yes. And I think too, one of the things. And I it was nice, because I got a note from this mom, who did this, but I had been talking about sibling rivalries, and I've done a podcast on it on getting your kids to get along. And so one of the things was when you walk in, and sometimes you'll have, you know, like two sisters will pick on another sister, or an older sibling will pick on a young, I don't like you, I hate you, you know, you get the that's just part of family dynamics. And it's unfortunate, but it's but we're learning through these processes. And so I said one of the things is instead of getting mad at the one who's being mean, is to talk to in front of them. Oh, wow, I, I just love your smile. And I love the way that she makes me laugh or, and I love and talk about the things that you love about them. And now I was talking specifically about the younger kids. My pocket, you know, we work on zero to eight. So it's these younger kids. I don't know how well that would work with teenagers. But she came downstairs and the two kids were arguing and the older one was saying, I hate her. She's, Oh, that's too bad. I really love her and remember how she makes you? I don't know it was laugh or remember how she had dances so funny and stuff. And he completely turned around. I think he was only like, maybe five, maybe five. And so then he jumped it goes, oh yeah. And remember when she did this and did that. And he totally got in on it. And it completely ended that argument. And she was again kind enough showing gratitude, to send me an email and say, Hey, I tried this, and it really worked.

Wanda Luthman  39:20  
Yeah, that is wonderful. I remember when I was little. My brother was five years older than me, and I don't exactly know why. But I enjoyed getting him in trouble. I don't know I tattoo like that. You know? I don't know. I don't know. But I did. And I remember somewhere along the way. My mom really encouraged me to show my brother love. She didn't say stop getting him in trouble or stop tattling. She was more like, you need to show your brother love. Think about something that he might like and what could you do? do or what could you say or maybe inviting him to play something that he might like to do or whatever. And she just helped that train of thought? Well, you know, because it was, it was just a little kid thing to want to get somebody in trouble and just sort of channel it in a different way. And that's kind of what you were saying it. It was like channeling the thoughts in a different way. And so I did, I started being kinder and nicer to him, and he started being kinder and nicer to me. And, and we became really close siblings after that we really bonded, and it was just a matter of kind of channeling, as opposed to coming down on, like, don't do that, or that's bad, or, or whatever, you know, the things about parenting we that we like to take the shortcut, which is to say no, but not always the most effective. And just, it may be taking a step back and thinking, What could I do that would help channel this energy in a different way? That would be a little more positive, and constructive.

DJ Stutz  41:10  
Yeah, I agree. I totally agree. And just the joy that comes from, first off, finding things to be grateful for, and you're going to start seeing changes in yourself and your family, as you just even begin the process. It could even be something like fewer headaches that come from that. And so that's amazing. And then as you start talking about things that you're grateful for in front of your kids, your kids? Well, yeah, well, I'm grateful. Yeah, they have to come in and try and beat you out on gratitude. That is a fun thing to do. You know? Yeah. Yes, absolutely. And then taking that gratitude and helping our family develop this nature of acting on it, then, and making sure that we're saying thank you, and making sure that we're doing little kind things are telling the teacher that she looks prettier, that he's extra Smart, I'm glad I have a smart teacher. Those are things teachers Eat up, or like the neighbor or whatever, but finding ways to take that gratitude and then say, well, how can we show them that we're grateful for this? And when, when that becomes, you know, the culture, oh, of your family, I think maybe you can tell me, but I really, I saw changes when we did that.

Wanda Luthman  42:47  
Yeah, that's for sure. I think I liked what you said it, it does start with the parent kind of role modeling, that's a really important piece to parenting is to role model, the behavior you want out of your children. And if it starts with you, where you're focusing on what you're grateful for, and you're speaking it out, or let's say, you're at the store, and you're speaking with the checkout person, and being friendly with them, and maybe telling the person who's bagging your groceries, thank you, you're role modeling all of those things. And you might not even be thinking anything about that. It's just how you're going about your day, but your children are watching and picking up those skills. Like you said, it's overt, those things do need to be taught. But they can also be role modeled in a way that you know, the children pick up on that it's so important to develop that habit yourself. And then it's easier to instill that in your children. And I like how you said, you know, make it a family culture, to focus on the things that you are thankful for. And you have gratitude for, and the thinking, bringing it up at dinner, so that everybody has to say something. So they're thinking all day long, I gotta find something, I gotta find something. It's just really so powerful. It just, it's, it's not some it's not doesn't have to be a big thing. You know, you don't have to, oh, how are you going to teach gratitude to our children, just little subtle things like that is all it takes to plant those little seeds. And then really, to move into that action, where they actually do it themselves where they're telling other people. Thank you. I love it. You know, when parents teach their children to say thank you. That's the simplest way. Your manners say thank you, please, and thank you. And those are, those are great and maybe aren't as instilled as they used to be. So it's good to teach your your child to say those things, but then take it beyond that, to, to like, like we talked about with writing the thank you note or drawing a picture. Those things that show express their feelings to that other person. Yeah, love it.

DJ Stutz  45:18  
Awesome. Well wonder thanks for spending this time with us. I was wondering if our parents want to learn more about you or check in on your books, where do they go?

Wanda Luthman  45:31  
Okay, so I do have a website. And it's www dot Juanda, I know it's a lot. And so you can go there. It's a blog. So I have a weekly blog about other authors in the in the books I share. People who write books, similar to mine with positive values for children. I've met some amazing authors through the years from that, and my books are listed there. There's a biography page, you can read a little bit more about me and my experience and stuff in the counseling field. And, and there's even a way to contact me if you wanted to email me about something.

DJ Stutz  46:19  
Awesome. That is great. Well, before we go, I always ask my guests the same question at the end. How would you describe a successful parent?

Wanda Luthman  46:33  
I think a successful parent is one that truly to me, the most important thing is that your child feel your love. If you can make your child feel and know they are loved, that insulates them from so many issues. And sometimes, you talked earlier about learning your love language, you need to figure out your child's love language, it's more than likely isn't the same as yours, it might be but more than likely it won't be. And so to figure out their love language, and let them feel loved, we'll just insulate them and then empower them in so many ways. To me, that is the number one most important thing is that your child feel your love.

DJ Stutz  47:28  
Well, and I love that you brought up learning and understanding that their love language may be different than yours. And so figuring that out, and then acting on it is such a great idea. Wanda, thank you so much again, I really appreciate it. And we've talked about maybe having you coming back in the spring or something. And we can talk more about some of your picture books and what you have going on there.

Wanda Luthman  47:55  
Right. I would love to thank you so much for having me. Oh, you're welcome.

DJ Stutz  47:59  
All right, so let's give it a recap. The first thing that I noticed from our conversation was that study after study has shown that living in gratitude has the great effect on our emotional and spiritual well being, our relationships become stronger, we are happier. And the current research is looking into the physical effects of gratitude as well. Number two, let's make it a part of our family culture to have a designated time, like dinner or bedtime to share one thing that you are grateful for that day. Number three, something that you can consider is just leaving a note on a neighbor's door, you could leave it on the windshield of a car in a parking lot, or even in the library book. And you may never know whose day you are going to brighten. Number four, thank you cards really enhance your child's ability to show gratitude. But they are actually more meaningful than just sending an email or text message. physically putting a thank you card either in their mailbox or mailing it to them is something that takes it another step number five, anonymous random acts of kindness are such a fun way to get kids involved in showing gratitude to those that are around us. Number six, set the example of talking about the things you are grateful for in front of your kids. Let them see you going through that process, and then maybe help them as they work through it. And then number seven was the idea to have a family competition to see who can say thank you the most either on that day or that afternoon, or maybe on a trip you're in a car or flying and we keep track who can say thank you the most often it becomes a really fun competition. issue and much better than slug bug. And I probably just dated myself. So if you're interested in finding Wanda, all the contact information is there in the show notes. 

And we are now coming towards the end of the parent teacher conferences. And while many districts are already done, others may go as late as the end of November, and I'm here to help. So have you ever left a parent teacher conference thinking, well, wow, it was a waste of time? Or is this the first conference with your oldest child, there are things that you can do to prepare, so that you are using your time wisely. And I have a workshop for you that I have cut down to $10. It used to be 20. And when you are done, you will walk into the conference with confidence, and knowing what to ask and what to share. And you will walk out of your next parent teacher conference thinking, I'm so glad I went, This workshop will be available only until November 18. Then I'm taking it down. And the link for that is in the show notes. What is the prize? So please, while you're down there, be sure to give us a five star rating and review. We love that. And it also helps other families find us. The more reviews we get and the higher ratings we get, the better off we are and the easier it is for others to find us. 

So next week is something a little different. I used to do this all the time. And then I had so many great guests. But next week, I'm going to be doing a solo show. And it's been a while. But I love to talk about this every year around this time. And have you ever thought about the way that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year play out in our lives? I don't think the order of these holidays is a random thing. So check it out and see what I mean. And until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Wanda LuthmanProfile Photo

Wanda Luthman


Wanda Luthman is an international multi-award-winning author. She’s been a Christian since she was 3 years old, was baptized at 12 years old, and attended a Christian College in the Midwest double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. She has practiced in the field of counseling for over 20 years. But, she felt she really “met” God in her late 40’s when her Pastor taught her contemplative listening which is a Christian form of meditation. Since then, she’s been on a mission to share God’s love with everyone she meets.