8 Tips for Teaching Gratitude in an Entitled World
To raise a grateful child, parents must move beyond merely teaching the importance of please and thank you. Children need to learn ideas in concrete terms. Helping your child see what being grateful looks like is better able to assimilate the concept into their world. Follow these 8 remarkable ways to raise grateful children in an entitled world.
Set an Example
Children take in everything they see and feel. They watch parents interact with others and learn how to relate to the world by following examples. If you want your child to avoid being swept away by entitled demands:
- Show them the honor in humbleness.
- Live in a way that offers children the beauty in giving grace when others do wrong make mistakes.
- Help children learn about adversities in an age-appropriate and safe manner.
Volunteering at a food kitchen or making toiletry sacks to hand out to homeless individuals is an excellent way to teach about the world’s hardships and inequalities. Teaching about these complex topics helps children better evaluate their world and all they have.
Point out Generosity
Make generosity so fun, your child begs to do it. Share heartfelt stories about fundraisers with your children, especially when connected to their interests. Does your child love marine life and have them participate in a fundraiser for the local wildlife refuge. Show how you give to things that are important to you. Help them see others’ generosity—even simple events like pardoning a turkey highlight the importance of charity. Talk about how society gives back. Highlight companies that donate to charities or sponsor fundraisers. When you take part in fun run fundraisers, show children the businesses that sponsor the event. This helps children start to evaluate the businesses in their community and start to think of choices they have to choose businesses that support versus businesses that do not. If you have family or friends who donate their time or resources to causes, talk to your child about why they do it and how they got started.
Have a Talk
Create a safe space for children to talk about their views about the world, social issues, and local concerns. Doing so helps them highlight what’s missing for many children and fosters gratitude for what they have. Free printables for kids that focus on gratitude are a great way to open the conversation and have talking points to follow. Talk about television programs your child watches. Most kid’s shows have pretty entitled children. Ask questions to highlight what makes your child different from the children on the shows. Compare the lives of the television families to your own. Help your child highlight the things they have that the television characters do not. You are shutting down the desire for an entitled world before it even becomes a thought.
Learn Fun Ways to Say Thanks
Teach children all the marvelous ways to say thank you. In this age of technology, there are many ways children can send thanks to loved ones, peers, and even teachers. Starting at a younger age creates giving thanks as a habit. Help them turn it into a fun one. Whether it’s drawing a thank you card for grandma or writing an email to a teacher who provided extra help, highlight the honor in giving thanks to others. Practice by example, and find ways to thank your child in fun ways. Leave little stickie notes for good deeds done well.
Share the Love
Create conversations around ways to make an impact in the world and help your children make changes. Make family events out of volunteering opportunities. Help them choose ways to make an impact in the world. Do they make a mean cookie? Help them hold a bake sale for their favorite charity. If they are crafty, help them create items to sell and donate the proceeds. If your child’s school holds bake sales or other fundraising events, make sure to take part.
Put Things in Perspective
It can be tricky to teach children how to be grateful while steering clear of shame and guilt. There’s a nice balanced area where children can learn about the world’s travesties compared to what may be a relatively calm and peaceful life for them. Watch the news or read the newspaper with them to help show them injustice and inequalities. Always help them see the hope by showing them the path to make a change.
Help children put talk and ideas into action. Help children connect to others with similar desires to make the change. Often children are drawn to animal welfare, so help them connect to the local dog and cat shelters. These organizations will often offer children-friendly programs to the community. Some even have summer camps. See if your child wants to hold fundraisers for supplies or do sock drives to make little catnip toys for shelters. Have them use their writing skills to send letters to politicians and other leaders with the power to make a change. It’s inspiring when children get a response and will help to feed their passions.
Take the “No-Complaints Challenge.”
Could your family go 24-hours without complaining? Give it a try. Have each family member commit to taking the challenge and working to hold one another responsible. Go over the expectations and rules and create a fun strat and celebratory finish. You could even place bets on who will be able to complete the challenge. Decide if you want to offer little graces, like two freebies. Simplifying can be helpful for younger children and children working on emotional regulation. You want to have fun, not cause frustration.
Raising a grateful child can be fun and provide meaningful memories. When parents help children understand gratitude, they appreciate all they have, no matter how much or how little. Raising a grateful child also helps provide your child with coping skills that will help them refocus and prioritize during difficult times.
More about the author:
Alexandra Eidens is the founder of Big Life Journal, an engaging resource to help kids develop a resilient growth mindset so they can face life’s challenges with confidence.