It can be real frustrating raising kids today. It seems as if we do so much more for them than what our parents did for us. In many cases parents CAN do more for their kids because they can afford to do more; Disney trips, a vacation home, providing them with the latest toys or electronic gadgets, and so much more than what many of us had as children.
When our children throw fits to get more, it can bring on feelings of resentfulness toward our children. We desperately want to say to them, “Do you even care about all that I’ve done for you up to this point? Do know how hard I had to work to earn the money I’ve spent on you to get you what you want? Do you know how many children there are who have very few clothes and are starving in [insert foreign country here]?”
But if we go on in this way, nothing positive will come from it. They won’t understand lack if they’ve never experienced it. And it’s even more difficult for them to be appreciative of what they have when they see other children on television and around them with plenty of ‘stuff.’ So what can parents do to raise more appreciative children? Here are four things to get you started.
Thin out your children’s ‘stuff.’ Reduce the amount of toys your children have by donating what you can to thrift stores or donation centers. Have your child help you every step of the way, from the culling process to the delivery of the items. Then commit to reducing the amount of toys and gadgets they will receive, from you and from relatives.
Give to others less fortunate. Have the whole family get involved in an activity that provides a service to those in need. Some families I know volunteer at a local soup kitchen serving those who line up for a free meal. I led my own family to deliver meals to shut-ins and those less fortunate. The experience of giving to those in need will help your children see how much they have, themselves.
Refrain from rescuing them. Experiences of failure, mistakes, and being left out are all valuable life lessons that can lead to a greater sense of appreciativeness. When your child has a negative experience, don’t swoop in and make everything all better for them. If one of your children gets an opportunity or receives a gift that triggers envy in your other child, do not ease the envious child’s pain by buying them something or creating an equal experience for them. Instead, let your child just feel what they’re feeling and encourage them to talk about it.
Finally, demonstrate what appreciation looks like. You are your child’s greatest teacher so why not teach them through your own words and actions. Let them hear and see you being grateful and being thankful for something you (or the family) recently received. Lead the family in writing thank you notes or start off family meals by having everyone share what they are thankful for.