Teaching Our Kids Gratitude

Mommy, I need apples!  Mommy, I need juice.  Mommy, I need a toy.  Mommy, I need…

Tell me I’m not the only one who hears this on repeat on a quick Target trip.  Seriously, someone tell me.

Let’s just get this out in the open right now :: I’m totally guilty.  I like making my daughter happy and seeing her face light up over gifts, so I all too frequently indulge her requests.  Most of her requests can be so easily filled by little trinkets from the dollar section or a sticker book.  But I know that as she gets older, those requests will only get bigger.  I also know that I want to raise a child who appreciates what she is given and works hard to earn what she wants.

So with that, I’ve started making an effort to control myself {and my impulse buying} in order to not raise a spoiled child.  For me, it is so important to teach her to be grateful for the things she has and understand that not everyone has even the minor privileges she enjoys.

Even as an adult, I sometimes have to remind myself how good I have it.  I catch myself comparing my life to our friends – getting jealous over their new car or wishing we’d had the funds to go on a tropical vacation. It’s those moments that I take a minute to sit back and name five things I’m grateful for.  I always end up with my family, our health, our jobs, a roof over our heads, and our friends.  Whenever it comes down to it, the latest designer purse or a spa day don’t make the list of what’s truly important.

I’ve started applying this method with my daughter.  Since she’s only three, I’ve simplified it to – “Tell me something that makes you happy.”  I try to bring it up at bedtime or on our morning commute.  We usually make it through a list of five to ten things, and mommy and daddy always top her list.  It’s very rare that a toy makes the cut, and it’s a great reminder to me of what really matters for her.

This has made it easier for me to refuse the constant requests at the store.  I don’t outright deny them, but instead of immediately caving, I suggest maybe she ask Santa for that gift {yes, even if Christmas is six months out}.  She’s also started earning money for performing chores around the house, so she can save up for a toy she really wants.

That’s not to say we won’t ever splurge or surprise her, but for our family – moderation is the key.

I’d love to know… How do you teach your kids gratitude?



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