Let’s face it…many of our kids have been struck by the “arrow” of entitlement. They’ve developed an attitude that says “I deserve more and better”. You can quickly spot entitlement if you hear your kids constantly complaining, “It’s not fair!”. Entitlement is destructive because it results in the act of greed. In order to kill greed, we must to train our kids to be grateful. How do we help foster an attitude of gratitude in our kids amidst a culture of entitlement?
7 Practical Tips for Raising Grateful Kids...
- Teach your kids to say “Thank You”. Model for your kids what it means to be grateful by offering a genuine “Thank you!” when someone does something kind, helpful, and that you’re undeserving of, AND teach your kids to do the same. When opportunities present themselves, remind your kids to say “Thank you!”. Practice with them so that gratefulness, for big things and small things, becomes a habit.
- If it isn’t broken, don’t replace it. We’ve all been guilty of buying something new even though we didn’t need it. This can set a poor example for our kids. Instead, help your kids foster an attitude of gratitude for what they do have by not replacing their – or your – clothes, shoes, toys, games, electronics, and accessories only for the sake of upgrading to the “latest and greatest” versions.
- Say “No”. When your kids make endless requests for things they want or think they deserve, say “no” some of the time. Caving in to all our kids’ wants and desires teaches them that they will eventually get their way if they complain loudly or long enough. A simple “no” can go a long way.
- Allow your kids to work for what they WANT. Teach your kids gratitude by giving them an opportunity to work for the things they want. Kids become more grateful for the things they have or get when they put some stock into them. Just watch any 16 year old…the ones who worked for all or part of the car they drive are much more likely to take care of their car than those who were given a car with no personal investment into it.
- Give your kids perspective on their position of privilege. Put your kids in situations where they’re around other kids who have less than they do, and talk to your kids about those who are less fortunate. Often, your child simply being in an environment where they see what others have compared to them will be one of the most powerful experiences that will help your kids develop compassion for others and gratitude for their life and their own privileges.
- Instill Generosity. Gratitude is taught when we see how much life is produced when we’re generous with 3 of our most precious commodities: our time, talents, and treasures. Generosity is instilled in our children when (1) we choose to live generously with our time, by serving and helping others even when it’s inconvenient for us. (2) we make serving a part of our lifestyle, by choosing to use our talents to serve our church and other people, (3) we teach our kids to be generous with their money by having them giving a portion of every dollar they receive. Generosity generates transformation.
- Have your kids identify DAILY what they are grateful for. Spend a few minutes EVERY DAY discussing with your kids the question “What are you grateful for today?”. Your kids will begin to develop a habit of gratitude, as they begin to recognize things from that day that happened or that they received that they didn’t deserve, day after day.