Parenting children is complicated. We love our kids and we want to help them in any way we can. We want them to feel happy and carefree, but we also want them to be self-sufficient and humble. How do we give our children the life we “wish we had” without contributing to the growing problem of entitled, maladjusted adults?
7 Tips to Raise Grateful Kids
1. Say no
And mean it. Saying “no” is a way to teach children that life doesn’t always go their way. That’s an important lesson to learn from a young age. Sure, your child might want something — a toy, candy, pair of shoes, or a new car — but that doesn’t mean they should get it.
The word “no” is only effective if you say it and mean it. When you say no, stick to it and establish healthy boundaries with your kids.
2. Make them work for their money
Children have a hard time appreciating the value of a dollar if they’ve never worked for it.
For younger children, pay them to do household chores or for contributing to the house beyond their normal duties.
The quickest way to get teenagers to respect money is for them to earn and have money of their own. Encourage them to get a part-time job or a side hustle for their “going out” money. And it goes without saying that every woman should have access to “her own” money.
3. Make them pay for their wants
Once your kids are working, they should “contribute to the cause”. Special clothes, upgraded cell phones, or gas/insurance for the car are all “luxury” items (not necessities) that they should contribute to. This is a way for them to start connecting the dots between time and money. Sure, you can have that $160 pair of shoes but is it worth 15 or 20 hours of work?
If you have young children, have them save some of their allowance in order to purchase a toy rather than just buying it for them. The experience of having to part with money that took time and effort to acquire is essential. Just remember the younger the child, the shorter the attention span, the smaller the purchase.
4. Teach them to serve others
If you want your kids to have a more realistic vision of the world around them, let them see it. Set up opportunities for them to volunteer to help the less fortunate. Have conversations about how other people live and go deep into the decisions and circumstances that contribute to their situation.
It’s easy to complain about how “unfair” it is to have to pay for your car insurance until you see someone who literally has all of their possessions in one box. We could all use a dose of humility at times.
5. Teach empathy
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. To be able to see the world through their eyes. If you want to raise grateful children, teach them empathy.
The most effective way to teach empathy is to model it for your children. Both in word and action, be empathetic towards others. Be cautious not to judge others and never disparage them as people. This doesn’t mean you exonerate bad behavior but you can separate the behavior from the person.
If you model this behavior, chances are they will too. Additionally, when the opportunity to “judge” a peer arises, ask your children to put themselves in their shoes and to think about what could be contributing to how they’re acting. Don’t be surprised if you learn as much from them as they learn from you.
6. Teach gratitude
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus.
Having a grateful temperament is one of the greatest attributes you can instill in your children.
Research shows that an attitude of gratitude leads to more positive emotions, improved health, the ability to deal with adversity, and the ability to develop strong relationships. Grateful people also make better friends, spouses, employees, and co-workers. So, do yourself and your children the great service of teaching gratitude.
An easy way to get started is to build the simplest and most fundamental of habits: teach them to say “thank you.” They’re magical words. They do so much for the giver and the receiver.
And they’re in short supply.
I don’t know if parents aren’t teaching it to their children or if children are ignoring their parents (parents and children alike are blaming each other as we speak), but there’s clearly a shortage of “thank you’s” floating around.
Exhibiting sincere thanks when someone does something for us is not only good manners but the cornerstone for cultivating a grateful heart.
7. Teach that money is a tool
It’s important to teach our children what role money plays in our life. They need to know money is a tool to help us accomplish the important things in life. That money is neither inherently good nor evil. That money is a means to an end, not the end itself.
When we view money as a tool to be used to supply us the goods and services we need to live a fulfilled life, we relinquish some of the power it has over us. Money isn’t something to be worshipped, but a resource to be harnessed and put to use to enable us to live our best lives.
There are many other ways to raise grateful kids. What tips do you have for raising grateful kids? What has worked for you?
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