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Grateful kids. Does that just conjure up an image of sweet, smiling, and hardworking kids who are a delight to their parents or what? Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme, but grateful kids are so refreshing these days when it seems that entitlement is everywhere.
I have no idea what it was like to raise kids in an earlier generation, but I do wonder if all the niceties that we have access to in an instant makes it a bit more difficult for us as parents these days. I wonder if back when there weren’t so many options to “have” it was easier to raise kids who don’t have a severe case of the gimmies, which seems to be the norm.
Grateful kids are kids who are selfless, they are kids who foster a sense of generosity, and they are kids who more readily appreciate the things they have rather than focusing on what they don’t have.
I have written about this idea in Are You Raising an Entitlement Monster, but have you ever given thought to how we as parents teach our kids to be grateful rather than entitled by the way we behave? Furthermore, have you ever thought of how the traits that you model for your kids either contributes to your kids being entitled kids or grateful kids?
Ouch. This really is true even if I don’t like it.
As in so many things, kids model the things that we are rather than the things that we teach in most cases, which is why if we want kids who are grateful we as parents better be modeling what it means to be grateful.
While teaching, modeling, and training in no way promises to yield kids who “do it right” so to speak, we are certainly more likely to raise kids who get it right when we take the time to do these kinds of things ourselves.
The truth is, our kids can make choices, our kids are selfish by nature (as are we), and our kids can choose to follow the things we teach or to do things their own way. Our kids can make mistakes just as we can make mistakes, but all we can do is what we can do and pray for our kids to make the best choices they can while taking to heart the things we teach and model for them.
It is with this in mind that I have 10 ways that raising grateful kids starts with parents who are grateful as these are 10 character traits that we should be modeling in the way we live our lives.
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We need to show our kids what it means to work hard and then teach them the importance of doing so. This can relate to working hard in our jobs, in our homes, in our hobbies, and in our relationships with others in addition to so many other things. Life is rarely easy, and life is almost always filled with hard work in order to be successful in any way.
While this can apply to being resourceful with what we own, this also refers to being resourceful in how we handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws at us all. We can either let life get the best of us, or we can be resourceful in how we handle the ebb and flow of what does and doesn’t happen to us.
Let your kids watch you give and then give some more. Not only do they need to see you give, but they also need to be part of the giving process along with you. As a family you can serve together in a variety of ways, and in our family we also allow our kids to be part of the process in deciding who we give to at times. Involve your kids in the process of giving, and they will learn a lot about how to be grateful.
Take care of things
Taking care of the things we own is not only a way to be a good steward, but it is also a way of showing kids what it means to be grateful. When we care for things properly, we show that we are also grateful for the things we have.
It is so easy to fall into the instant gratification trap, but so often entitlement goes along with it. Delay gratification on the things you want, the things you buy, and in the experiences you take on, waiting for the best opportunity to take these things on…or not. Let your kids see you resist the urge to impulse buy on a regular basis, and let your kids see you work towards something, even if you could have it right away. Learning to work, save, and delay gratification are such good things when it comes to raising grateful kids.
Let your kids see you say no to things whether you are saying no to material things, to people, or to yourself. Saying no is so powerful, and it can be done in a gracious way as well. Most likely, your kids will need to learn to say no to things in life as an adult, which will serve them well when it comes to being grateful rather than entitled both now and in the future.
Make it, make do, or do without
I wrote a blog post about this very thing, and it is a different way of being resourceful than was previously mentioned. Oftentimes we can make something, make due with something we already have, or do without something we want rather than giving in to every want that comes our way.
Respect others and their things
Respect teaches our kids so many things, a grateful attitude included. When kids see us behave disrespectfully to other people or to the property of others, it basically models an attitude of selfishness, which is the very opposite of being grateful. Treating kids with respect and letting them see you treat others with respect is powerful stuff!
What says “you matter” more than making sacrifices for others? Exemplify what it means to be selfless on a regular basis, and your kids are more likely to do so as well.
Be gracious, gentle, and humble
I think these may be my three favorite behavior traits, and they are things that I pray my kids see in me every day. When you are being gracious, gentle, and humble, these are beautiful examples of how to give to others, and they are also timeless examples of being grateful to others as well. Rather than “I deserve,” “I want,” or, “You should,” when it refers to others, being gracious, gentle, and humble communicates that you are not entitled to anything as it pertains to others. Whatever you receive is a gift rather than something you deserve.
There are so many things that we as parents can model to teach our kids what it means to be grateful, but these are 10 very powerful traits that parents can show our kids to help them focus on being grateful rather than being focused on what they feel they deserve.
This post is reflection of the book we are reading as a book club community. This is the book we are reading.
Here is a bit more about our book club…
This book club is a way of encouraging others to carve out the time to read at a pace of just two chapters a week because I’ve learned that finding time to read never just happens on its own.
Generally, every Monday and Thursday there will be blog posts here with Monday’s Inspirational Reads somewhere in the title with my reaction to each of the two chapters for the week.