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Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

Family portrait in kitchen.

In today’s world we are surrounded by technology that gives us quick and easy access to information, email, shopping, games, videos, banking, pictures, books, and more.  Our children are becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification with the click of their fingers.  Many parents are working longer and harder, which means spending time away from their kids, so they feel obligated buy their children “things” to make up for lost time.  Children are feeling entitled and expect to get whatever they want, whenever they want it.

Why should we worry if our children are grateful or not?  Science has shown grateful people are happier and they are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and have fewer behavioral problems in school.  Some children are naturally inclined to be thankful, but others need to be taught gratitude.

Some tips to help parents teach kids to be grateful are as follows:

Model Gratitude – If your children see you be grateful for what you have, they will be more content with what they have.  Don’t always rush out to buy the latest gadget.  It is okay to tell your children “no” when it comes to buying things.  Also, remember to share generously with your kids and always say please and thank you.

Share the Gift of Giving – Around the holidays, don’t focus on presents, instead focus on spending time with family and friends to make memories that will last a lifetime. Teach your kids that giving gifts can be just as fun, if not more fun, than receiving them.

Teach Family Values – If your family values hard work, communicate this regularly to your children.  Show them that sometimes earning something, based on hard work, is more rewarding.

Start a Family Tradition – At dinner time start a tradition, for example, by having each person share one thing they are grateful for, have each person talk about something nice that happened to them that day or something nice they did for someone else.

Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks – Have your children help out around the house.  Assign age appropriate chores, such as setting the table, folding laundry, sweeping or vacuuming.  The more a child helps out around the house, the more they will appreciate how much effort it takes to keep the household running.

Serve Others – You can teach your children to be of service to others.  You can start by teaching them to write thank you cards, bake cookies for a friend, collect food for a charity through school, and have them volunteer to be a reading buddy for a younger child.  Have them collect toys they don’t want any more to donate to a charity.  Older kids can volunteer at places like an animal shelter, soup kitchen or church.

Practice Mindfulness – Take time to appreciate the sights, sounds and smells around you.  Your kids will take notice.  The more mindful we are, the more compassion we will have for others.





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