My boys are 2, 8 and 10. I have in no way finished raising my kids and, know what makes kids turn out great. I am in the trenches with you, figuring it out as I go, desperately leaning on God for wisdom and guidance on how to raise these little beings with the goal of helping them to become awesome men that live their lives wholeheartedly for Christ!
One thing I do see is that they are incredibly grateful kids and, I’ve been asked by friends and strangers how this is so and I do believe there are some specific things we did, that I do believe contribute to raising grateful kids.
- We talk to them about how many kids live around the world and in their own town that are less fortunate.
We sit down and share poverty statistics with them. We talk to them about kids in their school, their city and all over the world and explain that these children do not have the things they have. We make it personal by showing them documentaries about little kids all over the world living in poverty. These documentaries have been very instrumental in increasing their compassion. These are easy to find on HBO, Netflix or Amazon video. Here are a few they have seen recently:
On occasion, we let them watch the news, which constantly shows them stories about how other kids live. We are honest with them about the different situations many kids face and, how fortunate they are to not have those experiences. They ask questions and we answer truthfully. They will find out about the hard evils in this world but, we would like to be the ones who tell them. We also look for situations to interact with the community and give back to those that are less fortunate. This has created extreme gratefulness in them but, also cultivated a heart of compassion for others.
- We don’t buy them new things often ( not including clothes)
My kids do have a lot of toys and, I still feel like its way too much but, they mainly get them on their birthdays or Christmas and, at least 50% of them weren’t bought by us. We don’t buy many toys throughout the year but when we do it is usually for a specific reason. For instance, we let them pick out something at the end of the school year for having a good grades all year and great behavior. We think it is important to reward those actions. Even when they were really young, they realized quickly we don’t buy random toys at the store without a reason. It is now VERY rare that they even ask for something which makes for a smoother shopping experience. So when birthdays and Christmas roll around they are Ridiculously excited and stunned ( because it’s not the norm) that the result is authentic gratitude.
Another point I wanted to share is that we rarely buy them expensive gifts! So, when someone spends any amount of money on them for a more expensive gift they are again authentically shocked & very grateful. My kids aren’t the kids getting the newest phone, toy, or video game system and they are fine with that.
- We don’t take them out to eat very often.
We intentionally limit how much we are taking them out to restaurants or to get fast food or deserts. When it happens they are so excited for the experience that we don’t have to prompt them to say “thank you.” Their and manner are impacted by this as well. better too, even as 4-year-old kids they behaved very well in restaurants, because they saw it as a privilege rather than an expectation. I don’t think you can expect your kids to be grateful for the money you spend to go eat out if they are doing it a few times every week.
- We teach them how to be grateful through example
We teach them manners at a young age and there are consequences for not using those manners. For example, my children won’t get an item because, they didn’t say “please” and ” thank you.” Most importantly, kids model what they see. We make sure they see us using manners with each other as well as with them. We use the same manners with them that we expect them to use towards us and towards others. .
I constantly hear parents frustrated and discouraged by how ungrateful their kids are and, feeling clueless of why they seem that way. It seems to always be accompanied by “over giving” to their kids. We can create these ungrateful human beings by giving them way too much. You cannot expect them to be grateful when they never have to be. Don’t show them love by giving them stuff and saying yes constantly. It’s not the type of love that will last or that they will remember in adulthood.
You work hard for your money and, you shouldn’t be throwing it away for kids that won’t even appreciate it. You truly are hurting them and, creating ungrateful adults that have unrealistic expectations in their future marriages and, friendships. I have met these people and, they are challenging to deal with. They become friends that are always moping around never grateful for all the sacrifice others make for them because, they have always been spoiled and they don’t know how to be grateful. Don’t give us more of these kind of people in society. Raise more grateful, compassionate individuals that realize any blessing they get is a sacrifice from another person! We are all learning as we go! I hope these tips encourage you in your parenting journey as you raise more grateful kids!
For more tips on parenting, check out: “Why our kids don’t have cell phones or social media.”
Thanks for following!xoxo