Many parents face the challenge of raising grateful kids. Consider this typical conversation.
– Dad, can I have a Smartphone?
– But dad, I need one to play Pokémon Go with Ted.
– No buts, Hugh. I already bought you a brand new laptop yesterday for “studying”. The answer is no.
– OMG, that’s so unfair. That laptop doesn’t count…
– It does when I paid a small fortune for it and you only use it talking smack with your friends.
– Ugh, I hate you, you useless piece of… *hissy fit continues*
If this rings any bells, they should be alarm bells. Ready to learn? Let’s get cracking.
Here are ten things parents who raise grateful children do differently:
1. Saying no consistently
Delayed gratification is the key here. If you just give children material things on a plate, they will not know the true value of anything. They need to learn that things that are earned are much more valued.
2. The importance of gratitude
This goes beyond saying “please” and “thank you” to counteract against taking tangibles and people for granted. Children are required to show appreciation for all the good in their lives. If not, make the child return material things to you, telling them that they are not ready to receive them yet, and you will keep a hold of them until gratitude is shown.
3. Set the bar high yourself
It is scientifically proven that kids follow examples far more than words. “If mum does it, so should I.” Would you donate food or items of clothing? Once you lead with your actions and stick at it, your children will follow suit. Consistency with the “stick at it” is paramount.
4. Keep an eye on 3rd party behavior
This includes close friends and family. If you chill with lazy Max too much, your children make a mental note of it and copy his laissez-faire mentality. Make sure the people who spend time with you and the family have the same or similar values to yours. If not, remember that “old habits die hard”.
5. Written thank you cards
Yes, really! Your open-mindedness is fully appreciated. Due to various distractions out there, attention spans are shorter than ever. This is a creative way to show children gratefulness, and it keeps them focused on showing it to the person who did them a good turn, instead of the violent shoot-em-ups on the PSP. Watch out for glitter in the carpet!
6. Let them pick themselves up every once in a while
When taught to “stand on your own two feet” early enough, you will find that children are resilient and find strength from within. A good example of this when your offspring has no choice but to be strong is when (s)he is suffering from a serious or life-threatening disease and needs urgent medical treatment. This mindset teaches independence and lets them know you trust them. However, having a support system is also important, so do not let them swim from New York to London just yet.
7. Keep multiples in the classroom and homework
OK, your punishment for buying Belinda the entire Bratz set is writing a thousand times: “I must not go out and buy Belinda multiples of things.” Do you think this is a joke? It is but with a serious message. Purchasing multiple amounts of things makes the child think it is easy to obtain them, therefore be much less likely to appreciate them. Stick to one. School is out on this one.
8. Have a chat with the grandparents
Grandparents tend to give their grandchildren the life of Riley, especially if they give their children the life of Brian. Is that an exaggeration? Yes and no. Yes, because it is not their intention. No, because there is no responsibility on their part. You must be clear with your wishes; the old folks will understand. You want them to give your offspring: love, attention, and happy memories. Not wanted: a shower of gifts, sweets, and money.
9. What are your child’s perceptions of the value of money?
Does (s)he think that “money grows on trees?” If so, take him/her to the bank to open a savings account and say that pocket money will be put there for him/her to manage. Inform firmly but fairly that if all the money is spent, you will only deposit the next installment at the usual time with the usual amount. Not a moment before. Not a penny more. No emergency trips to the toy store. Get ready for hissy fits galore.
10. Tell them your story
Everyone loves a good story, not just kids. Kids, however, are curious creatures by nature as they are getting to know the world around them. How did you get to where you are now in all aspects of life? Where did you and their other parent meet? How has your relationship stood the test of time if you are still together? If you are rich, how did you get all that money? Make your children identify with achievements, struggles, happiness, sadness, memories, and lessons. These opportunities provide a perfect chance to be grateful.