Lately I’ve been hearing a common gripe among my friends with young ones. And I’m saying it right along with them, “My kids don’t appreciate how lucky they are, and they always want more.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that sentiment probably applies to most adults as well. If it were considered socially acceptable, I’m pretty sure I’d beg my dinner hosts for more dessert. If I had no concept of how hard-earned money is, I’d probably want to buy another new sundress — even though I just got a super cute one. If I didn’t have a pile of dishes to do and dinner to cook, I’d definitely want to hit the park/pool/friend’s house yet again today.
So, yes, it’s understandable. But so is wanting to feel like all we do as parents doesn’t go unnoticed.
How about a little gratitude? Is that too much to ask?
Forget asking, I’m insisting. I figure if I want my kids to be gracious, I have to teach it. I’m finding it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Not only do my kids continue to push back on me, I find myself being rather inconsistent. So I figure if I write about it, maybe you all will join me and we can hold each other accountable by sharing ideas.
Here are the few things I’ve started that seem to be working.
5 Good Things
Each night, I’m trying to remember to ask my kids to come up with five things Lenny and I did to make their day better. It can be as simple as making breakfast (which it almost always is), but at least it gets the kids in a constructive pattern of thinking about how others’ actions positively impact their day.
My friend is amazing at this, and I’m following her lead. At the end of every meal, rather than running off, I’m making my kids look the “host” (which is usually me) in the eye, and say, “Thank you for lunch. May I be excused?” For the most part my answer is, “Yes you may. Please clear your plate.” Sometimes I ask them to eat a bit more or join the rest of us a bit longer, but just being asked in a nice way makes saying “yes” far less cringe-worthy. Believe it or not, even three-and-a-half-year-old Little is doing a great job with this one.
Rather than begging for more, I’m trying to teach my kids to think about what they’ve enjoyed so they can express that in the quest for more. For instance, “That cookie was delicious. May I have another one?” Or, “I’m having so much fun with these Star Wars guys. If I can get more, I’ll be able to have even better battles.” The answer isn’t always yes, and the reaction isn’t always pretty, but at least there’s an acknowledgement that there’s gratitude for what they did get and a “why” to the “more”.
Goodness knows there will be days these tricks fail me, or I fail myself by getting too relaxed about them. But they’re a good start.
How do you teach your kids gratitude and manage the ever-present gimmes?