Raising Grateful Children in a “Gimme More” Society

gratefulkids“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Around this time of year, before we’ve had a chance to empty the Halloween candy bowl or carve the Thanksgiving turkey, the big toy sales fliers start arriving and kids start their Christmas wish lists. Tantalized by every gimmick and colorful advertisement, their lists grow long and their expectations reach great heights.

While there’s great fun letting them dream and wish for everything they desire, it creates quite a conundrum for parents striving to raise grateful children. Let’s be honest, those newspaper ads are colorful and those TV ads do well convincing them it’s a MUST to have the newest everything, don’t they?

So, what’s a parent to do? How do we first, balance their expectations with our budgets and second, teach them gratitude when the world screams, “gimme more”?

Balancing our child’s expectations with the reality of our personal budgets starts well before Christmas. It starts with our everyday living. It’s normal for children to ask for things because they are dependent on us for everything, including gifts. And while we may enjoy lavishing them with presents, our budgets only allow so much. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set limits – know your budget and stick to it.
  • Give them choices—you may choose a box of Animal Crackers or Fruit Snacks but not both (okay, don’t get on me for unhealthy snack choices!).
  • Say no—if you just can’t afford it. Children will still love you. <smile>

Teaching our children gratitude starts with us. Our children model their behavior after us, so practice the golden rule, especially at home. Treat your children as you would like to be treated and how you would want to see them treat others.

  • Practice your manners. Remember to say “please” and “thank you” and speak kindly to others as well as to your children.
  • Write thank you notes for gifts and teach your children to do the same.
  • Count your blessings. It’s hard, I know, especially when we’re hurried, frustrated and at the end of our rope. But, the funny thing is, when we stop and give thanks for even the littlest things, our brains switch from anxious to joyful. When we stop, literally stop and offer up thanks for the good we can find, it reminds our hearts that God is good and makes good of every situation. Ann Voskamp, NY Times best seller of One Thousand Gifts, demonstrates how to notice God’s little gifts in everyday life and the joy that comes only after we offer up our thanksgiving.
  • Create a family thanksgiving journal. This is the discipline, the practicing of counting blessings. While it may seem like “one more thing” remember, every time we practice thanksgiving we’re replacing frustration, anxiety, grumpiness with heaven’s joy. Every evening record one thing for which each family member is grateful. Start a new one every year, culminating at the Thanksgiving table where you read all the blessings God’s given your family.

I’m sure there are more ways to raise grateful children in this “gimme more” society. Won’t you share your thoughts and ideas with our readers?

Thankful for you and all of God’s big and little gifts,
Dawn Aldrich
Author, Blogger
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