Gratitude is such an important value and I am so grateful to see this as a focus in our community. I have been so impressed with Orange County parents and their commitment to helping their sons and daughters reach their full potential.
The one major fall out from wanting to give our children everything they need to be productive members of society is entitlement issues. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Entitlement is the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something. Many of the children, adolescents and young adults that I work with believe that their parents should give them everything they want without them having to work for it themselves. When they get what they want they do not express any appreciation towards their parents or return any kindness, they just usually demand more.
Some ideas that could help instill gratitude and avoid entitlement include:
- Role model gratitude. It is much more influential when you demonstrate the behaviors you would like to see. So if you are guilty of getting a new car and are already talking about wanting to buy next year’s model don’t be surprised when your child does the same.
- Express Appreciation. Actively express appreciation to the people who support you and encourage your children to do the same. There are a lot of teachers, coaches, and other mentors that would love to receive a note letting them know what a difference they have made in your child’s life.
- Daily gratitude ritual. Make it a family tradition to share what you are grateful for daily. A good time to do this is when you are eating together as a family. Another option is to keep a gratitude journal.
- Being of service. As a family, volunteer regularly in the community and help out people less fortunate than you. Have discussions about the experience, encouraging compassion and kindness towards others, while reflecting on your own blessings.
- Hard work. Have your children do extra work around the house to help buy the newest electronic gadget or latest accessory. They will appreciate this item so much more when they have earned it!
Agreeing to a family spending cap for the holidays could also help change the focus of the holidays from being about expensive gifts to focusing on spending quality time together.