Living in a world of instant gratification and constant stimulation, I am nervous my children will develop an attitude of entitlement. My wish is for grateful children who appreciate life and everything they have; without the constant urge to accumulate more.
As I grow in my understanding of living mindfully (click here for 12 easy mindfulness methods), I have been thinking about how I will raise grateful children. I don’t want my daughters to grow up with the inaccurate belief that the more they have, the happier they will be.
In order to cultivate grateful children, the most powerful action I can take is to be a positive role model. If I am entitled, my daughters will become entitled. By practising mindfulness, my children will grow up with a Mother role modelling an attitude of gratitude.
On top of role modelling gratitude, my husband and I have committed to the following 10 steps to reinforce the importance of thankfulness and humility and to raise grateful children:
9 STEPS TO RAISE GRATEFUL CHILDREN
1.DAILY FAMILY GRATITUDE’S
I keep a gratitude journal. Each day I write three things I am grateful for about that day. My oldest daughter is three years old so can’t read or write yet, but I wanted to install in her from a young age the power of daily gratitude’s.
Each night before bed time we ask her what she liked about that day. I love hearing her innocent responses which are usually as simple as ‘playing in the sand’. With a limited concept of time, she sometimes gets her days mixed up and tells us something that happened a few days before. This is fine, the whole point is to make her aware of the wonderful events in her life.
When our youngest daughter (who is 8 months old) is able to participate, we will change this to a daily family discussion at the dinner table.
2. TECHNOLOGY FREE DAYS
The over-stimulation of television and computer games stops us from being aware of the present moment. This limits our ability to live life to the fullest and appreciate what is around us.
We are implementing one technology free day per week. In the absence of technology this day will become our family day.
3. GROW A VEGETABLE PATCH
We have a small vegetable patch but this spring we will be expanding it to include most of the seasonal vegetables. Our daughters will help with the planting, caring and harvesting of our vegetables.
The aim is to combat ‘entitlement’ by teaching hard work, dedication and patience. It will give them a sense of accomplishment and something to be thankful for when they harvest their homegrown produce.
4. SET DAILY CHORES
My three-year old daughter currently has set chores which include helping unpack the dishwasher, helping to take the rubbish out and tidying up her toys. These chores will evolve as she grows to be age appropriate in order to reinforce hard work and non-entitlement.
5. VOLUNTEER OUR TIME TO A COMMUNITY CAUSE
My husband and I are volunteering with a local environmental conservation group. Our girls will join us in donating our time to improve our local community, with tree planting and rubbish clean ups.
6. HELPING FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Our family has a wonderful group of relatives and friends that help each other out frequently. For example, we will cook each other meals when one of us is sick, provide child care when needed or just give each other thoughtful gifts to show our appreciation. From now on when I do this for a friend, I will involve my daughters in the process and explain why we are doing it.
7. GIVING A GENUINE ‘THANK YOU’ TO EVERYONE WHO IMPACTS OUR DAY
We generously use the words ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ in our household. My toddler is well versed in these phrases and when to use them.
I want my children to understand the difference between an automatic reply and a genuine heartfelt ‘thank you’.
When saying ‘thank you’ I consciously take time to look the person in the eye and internally acknowledge what I am saying ‘thank you’ for. By role modelling a genuine ‘thank you’ I will be teaching my daughters true gratitude.
8. LIMIT AMOUNT OF MONEY SPENT ON BIRTHDAY AND CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
We have a set budget for each child for birthdays and Christmas.
As a parent, we naturally want our children to be excited for these special occasions. A set budget stops me from going overboard and enables our daughters to enjoy these celebrations without being spoilt with extravagant or copious gifts.
9. SAVE MONEY FOR PURCHASES OUTSIDE OF BIRTHDAY AND CHRISTMAS
My sister in-law does this well. If her children want an expensive item or an item outside of birthdays or Christmas, then they have to save their money. They can earn money from taking on additional chores or by requesting cash instead of a gift for their birthday. She has two children who are 15 years and 12 years. They are both polite and kind and appreciate the value of money and what they have. I plan to do this with my two daughters once they start asking for material things.
This is our plan of action to raise grateful children. By using these 9 steps, alongside mindful parenting techniques, we hope to raise generous, grateful, grounded, hardworking and content daughters.
What are your parenting plans?