Several months ago, I requested the book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch from our local library and then forgot that I had requested it. In a case of perfect timing, it showed up on my holds shelf just before the Thanksgiving Season.
One of the first steps toward raising grateful kids is to recognize the need for it. Our culture is obsessed with chasing after more and more possessions to find identity and happiness. When we teach our kids about contentment, gratefulness, and service, we are standing up against our culture.
Last year, I went to a neighbor’s house to purchase some Legos from her kids who had outgrown them. The kids were trying to make some cash by selling old toys. My neighbor said that her fifth-grade son felt he needed certain brands of clothing to fit in at school. He wanted his mom to buy him a pair of $70 socks. No, that’s not a typo. Seventy dollars! I asked her to repeat the amount because, until that point in time, I didn’t even know they sold socks that cost $70.
After this conversation, I had a renewed sense of gratitude for homeschooling. I know that one day soon my kids will be more immersed in the broader culture of consumerism, but homeschooling is buying us (no pun intended) a few more years to keep all of that at bay. I have to fight against materialism in raising my kids, but not to the extent some of my neighbors do.
After reading Kristin Welch’s book on Raising Grateful Kids, I took notes on her seven recommended steps to free kids from the entitlement trap.
Seven Steps to Raising Grateful Kids
1) TEACH OWNERSHIP – Give kids an opportunity to take part in your family economy by giving them consistent chores they are responsible to carry out. (Not to mention that a University of Mississippi study found in 2015 that: “Those who had done chores as young children were more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family, and be more successful in their careers.”)
2) STRESS THE VALUE OF MONEY – Give kids a lump sum each week or month, as you deem appropriate. Let them manage some money on their own to pay for things they want. This will teach kids the value of a dollar and teach them how to save. They will also be more grateful for your hard work to earn money.
3) EMPHASIZE THE VALUE OF HARD WORK – Hard work teaches kids to be grateful and instills work ethic. Kids should experience manual labor and help with family projects.
4) TEACH RESPONSIBILITY AND MANAGE CONSEQUENCES – Kids will make mistakes, but if we don’t require something of them when mistakes are made, they will not learn a lesson and will keep making the same mistakes. Doling out consequences can be as painful for parents as they are for kids, but failure can be the best teacher.
5) TEACH THE BENEFITS OF DELAYED GRATIFICATION – Our culture demands instant gratification. Make kids wait for what they want. When the thing waited for is finally achieved, it is a much sweeter reward. I read in another book once that said it’s a good idea to have kids make a list of things they want. When they want something new, tell them to add it to the list so they can decide what to prioritize when they have the available funds.
6) GIVE KIDS A LARGER WORLDVIEW – Perspective is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids and ourselves and service is one of the best ways to package it. If we see life through only one lens, we believe the misconception that everyone in the world has what we do and our blessings start looking a lot like expectations. Allow kids to experience discomfort and serve those who are in need.
7) STRIVE TO INSTILL FAITHFULNESS – Faithfulness—the tenacity to continue—is almost a foreign concept in our culture. You are a living an example to your kids. You are showing them that when the going gets hard, you dig in your heels and you are faithful.
Let us be strong, dare to be different, and continue to stand up to our culture. Doing the work necessary to combat entitlement and help instill gratitude in our kids will be worth it!
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image courtesy of Amy Koons.