Ungreatful Children

Jennifer - posted on 12/22/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I have 4 wonderful children, but sometimes they, especially the older 2, can be so ungreatful. Sure money is tight quite often with 6 people living on one income, but we have always had a roof over our heads, more than enought food on the table, and a lot of extras. I have explained to my children many times that they are sooo lucky! I have had them donate toys, and put money in the salvation army buckets, and explaind why they did it. Our church has a community feast every Thanksgiving and they have heard many say that that is the only Thanksgiving dinner they get. Also on the same day as the feast, our church has a coat and hat and glove give away, where they give new hats and gloves and gently used coats to children/adults in need. We have explained many times why those kids are so happy just to have hats and gloves, and one family a coat for their daughters since they were trying to share one coat between two girls. Where we live people aren't rich, but there also aren't any homeless on the streets or homeless shelters, so they have been sheltered in that way. Still, my kids will destroy toys, throw fits about the food in front of them (food I know they have eaten and liked before), and tell people that they wanted something else when they are given something. It really breaks my heart to see them act this way, because I know they know better. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if my 6 almost 7-year-old complains that he didn't get a toy at Christmas when my husband sacrificed and sold some of his own personal belongings to get him a dirt bike. We have tried multiple times to not give our kids toys for gifts, but so many other family members get them for Christmas/Birthdays, that they really don't notice the we didn't get them a toy. Any ideas on how to make my children realize how much they have would be greatly appreciated.

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Cara - posted on 12/30/2010

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When my children complain about a food item (or say gross) they get extra of that item and must eat it all. If they sit quietly they won't have to eat it unless wanting dessert. If it gets really bad they are excused for the night and can you guess what is for breakfast? That only took one child 2 times to get it and the other three kiddos learned from him.
As for gifts my children get one gift from Dad and Mom and three from Santa just as Jesus did from the Wisemen. If a gift is not appreciated I take it and donate it. I only had to do that once (and it was the same child as above - funny how that works!).

Carla - posted on 12/22/2010

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Someone posted that when they are getting ready for Christmas or birthdays, they make the child donate the number of toys they are going to be getting for Christmas or birthday. It can't be anything broken, and it has to be something they like. That keeps the number of toys down, it also teaches them about sacrificial giving. If my grandbabies throw their toys or act destructive, the toy goes into time out. Half an hour usually does it, but if they continue, put that toy away. You and the child take it down to Salvation Army or Goodwill and make him give it to the clerk.

If the children don't eat, they don't get a snack, and at the next meal they get the food they didn't eat.

But I think you also need to talk to your relatives that are giving the children so much as well. Being a grandparent, you naturally want to shower them with gifts. This is not good. Limit them to one toy per event, and give them a $$ amount that they can spend. If they want to give extra to a college fund or a savings account that they can't get into until they are 16,18, or 21, fine. I would also be reading them in the Bible where Paul says in Philippians 4:11, 'whatever state I find myself in, I will be content.' Go online and find charities with little children and have them sponsor a child, and let them see what most of the world's children have.

It is our responsibility to raise our children to be Godly adults, appreciative of their Father for the good things He gives us. He doesn't always give us what we want, but what HE thinks we need. He is ALWAYS correct!

God bless, darlin', I know raising children is a hair-raising project, but you WILL get through it!

Carla - posted on 01/04/2011

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Meghan, I was/am still very sensitive to textures ;) I was also very sensitive to what the children really didn't like. Like my youngest HATED and still does, mushrooms. Everyone in the house loved them. I did NOT quit using mushrooms, I let her pick them out of her food. I don't think you have to be perverse and make food you KNOW they don't like, but my grandbabies are sooo picky that they only want to eat fried chicken. They can't be allowed to only eat chicken. That is going to put them at a terrible disadvantage later in life.

Women have been cooking for their children since the beginning of time. I'm sure Sarah was saying to Isaac 'eat, eat, you need to grow big and strong so you can be the father of the tribes of Israel!' When their food choices were so limited, they ate what was available, and were grateful for it! Discipline is not limited to behavior, it is also teaching them that they are not in control of the menu. Children would, if allowed, eat cereal, macaroni and cheese and candy. We make them go to bed, because it's good for them. We make them go to school, cuz it's good for them. We make them eat good, nutrutious food, because they need it.

Being a mother is a constant teaching process, not for the faint-hearted! God bless, sweeties

Jennifer - posted on 12/31/2010

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I have 4 kids myself and have gone through the same thing you are going through. My oldest kids are 13 and 11 and so we made them do without or when they got something and were not content with what it was just took it back and gave it to another child. They have really learned to be happy with what they got and makes it a lot easier with my 2 youngest children ( 7 & 3). Have also told them if they want something they can do extras around the house and work for what they really want. That will cut down on them tearing up the toys since they are now having to work for it. I wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out for you!!!!!!

Pamela - posted on 12/29/2010

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With these hard economic times, it's always difficult to deal with the constant barrage of commercials aimed at kids. It seems that every year, there's some new toy that is a must have. Do your childrens' friends have a lot of toys? How do parents in your circle of friends deal with this problem?
It's not right that your husband might have to sell some of his stuff just so your son can have a dirt bike, especially if jobs are so uncertain. Your family might need that money later just to put food on the table. Don't try to appease your children, because then they know they have the upper hand. They need to learn the rules, and believe it or not, they'll thank you for it.....someday. (My thanks didn't come until my children were in their late teens and early twenties)
When they're having fits at the table, both you and your husband work out a suitable discipline and stick to it. Like, "Fine, if you don't want to eat, leave the table. There will be no snacking tonight and no TV or computer time." They have to learn that there are consequences for their bad behavior. I know that this might sound "old fashioned" but I was raised in a family of 9 total. The rule was that we had to eat whatever was put in front of us....period. No discussion, no argument. My mom was a good and inventive cook, so mostly it wasn't any "hardship". We learned early on that they (my parents) considered wasting food a sin. This was tied into the fact that my mother's labor was demeaned if we didn't eat what she went through the effort to cook.
I hope that some of this helps. Your children, by misbehaving like they do, are not showing you respect as parents. By proper and consistent discipline when needed, along with lots of hugs and affirmation just because they are who they are, you might just be able to get some positive feedback.

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It's hard. I just don't think their minds work that way!LOL I talk to my son about being thankful too...just keep on telling them...one day it's gonna be realized.

Jennifer - posted on 01/08/2011

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Thank you everyone for your comments. As far as food goes in my house, I have one rule, and that is... Mommy only makes one meal, and one meal only. I don't force them to eat it, but if they refuse, they go hungry. My problem is like the other day. My older two had a 2 hour delay for school, so I decided to make a special breakfast for them instead of the usual cereal and fruit. I asked my son how he would like his eggs and he told me scrambled. Usually when we go to our favorite restaurant for breakfast, they have cheese to put on the eggs, and he loves it. So, I took a little extra time and melted the cheese for him and put it on his eggs. He refused to even try them. Or, like one night we had pizza for supper. My kids (just like most) love pizza. There was a lot left over, so I decided to warm some up for them for breakfast as a special treat. They all gave me such horrible faces, and my daughter even looked at me and said "where's my cereal". I since have not given them anything but cereal to eat at breakfast. I do plan to do what my parents did when I was younger for the clothes. I will either buy the "cheaper" brand, or if they refuse those, I will put towards the more expensive brand what I would have payed for the cheaper ones, and they will have to come up with the rest, by either doing chores at home when they are younger to earn the money, or by an afterschool job when they are older.

Carla - posted on 01/08/2011

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Good answers, Anne :) Our youngest was a diva like your daughter ;) We had looked at clothes in every store in Lansing in her freshman year of h/s. I was getting a LITTLE frustrated. I took her to Jackson, to a little strip mall, told her she could look at the stores there. If she found something, great. Otherwise, she got nothing to start school. I sat in Woolworth's and drank tea. Wonder of wonders, she found enough clothes to start school!

Motherhood is certainly not for the faint of heart, but, like your mil said 'this too shall pass'. She is now going through the same thing with her daughter!

Anne - posted on 01/07/2011

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Jennifer I am a little late in responding to your post but I wanted to add a few things.
First off it sounds like to me as though you and your husband are really trying to teach your children about the importance of being Thankful. One thing you may want to do is to sit your children down and explain that other people do not have to give them gifts for Christmas or Birthdays but that they do this because they love them. Let them know that it is rude and hurts the feelings of the person that is giving the gift to tell them they do not like the gift.

As far as eating you can try 2 things that I can say from experience worked with our two daughters. One we had a "No Thank you" helping for any new food or food I knew they did not prefer. If we hat peas and our daughter was 3 she was given 3 peas and expected to eat them. Chili would be 3 very small spoonfuls. AS they got older I would set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes AFTER we were finished with the meal. When the timer went off if the food was gone (The same small amount was given according to age as before) They were told they did a good job and that was the end of it. If the food was still there or not finished they put the rest in the garbage and did not get anything but water to drink until the next meal. If it was dinner they did not get a bed time snack. I also started about this time had them start helping make dinner.

When our oldest was in 7th grade we were school shopping and she was mad because I would not spend $60.00 on a pair of jeans.(She is not 27 so this was about 15 years ago) She looked at me and told me I was cheep and unfair. I told her that we were done school shopping and she needed to put her own things back on and come out of the dressing room. I then told her we were leaving and I would NOT TAKE her school shopping again. It was a very unhappy ride home and she had only about 4 new outfits to start school that year. I never heard her be rude to me in a store again.

The last thing I want to share is this: If you are doing everything you can to be firm and consistent with your children (It sounds like you are doing a good job teaching your children about the less fortunate) they will out grow their "Ungratefulness" OUr daughters are 27 and 22 and this past Christmas (2010) several of their gifts came from either garage sales or thrift shops. WE also paid for their Plane tickets from their homes to CO where we spent Christmas with my husbands family. As my Dear Godly Mother-in-law has said more than once "This too will Pass."

Amy - posted on 01/06/2011

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I think partly, we as parents need to dial back our expectations. I know I am SOOO frustrated by the same exact things... but really, it's pretty normal for kids of that age to not get it. Psychologically speaking, the world is still revolving around them, and they aren't mature enough to understand gratitude like we think they should.

This doesn't mean we aren't to teach them! But I know I'm guilty of not being patient enough with this. We (as a society) have so much STUFF, and kids see that as normal and to be expected. They don't understand that others don't even have runnign water or toilets.

We vacation in Mexico, and while we're there, we make sure to point out some of the poverty there, and feed some of the people on the street. We are so fortunate to have what God has given us, but we can't really expect such young ones to appreciate the magnitude of it just yet. Keep up the good work, and the gratitude will come.

[deleted account]

Just a thought about *making* kids eat what's in front of them: it seems none of us remember what it's like being forced to eat something that makes you gag because of its texture or smell or whatever. I was always texture-sensitive and now so is my daughter. I think forcing kids to eat whatever is put in front of them, and guilt-tripping them by saying they'd eat it if they were African, can cause more problems down the road. Women struggle with eating problems and body issues already. I know many overweight/"chubby" girls who have said they eat without thinking BECAUSE they were forced to eat as a child and now have trouble controlling portion sizes and recognizing true hunger. I'm not making excuses for them, but it's just something to consider.

I don't intend to be a short order cook for my kids, but I also don't intend to exert parental control by forcing them to eat things I KNOW they don't like. They may try it once and if they don't like it, refuse it after that. It's not fair to prepare an ENTIRE meal for your family consisting of foods your children dislike. It's just asking for a power struggle. Why not encourage them to eat what they do like, and try to have something new for them to try a few days a week?

Tamara - posted on 01/03/2011

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We established a tradition for our kids when they were younger that continues today; they get 3 gifts from us at Christmas - a "want" a "need" and a "spiritual" gift. The need is usually a fancy pair of boots, or an outfit that they didn't "need" but liked, etc. The spiritual gift has been Christian cd's or movies, one year bibles for kids, devotional books, etc. This year was a very tight one for us financially and I must say it was the one where our kids were most grateful. They seem to do better taking care of what they have, when there is not a lot.

JOY - posted on 01/02/2011

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Hi. Yes, I agree with all the other Mom's post's I am an American, but have lived in New Zealand for the last 18 years. We recently had a major 7.1 earthquake here ,on Sept. 4th, down in Christchurch. Next time your children seem ungrateful, tell them this story. There is a family down in Christchurch, that were living in a $200,000 dollar home. After the earthquake, their home was so badley damaged, that they couldn't even go inside to get any of their belongings. They went to see what was left of their home, and all they could take away from it was ONE BRICK!! ONE BRICK!!! And do you know what that family did?? They THANKED GOD that they were alive!! Not one person was killed in all of that horrible mess. !00's of homes were destroyed. 100's of building's demolished!! And still.. people are so THANKFUL to be alive!! They lost water and power for weeks and had over 100 aftershocks. And the day after Christmas, they had 3 more earthquakes, the biggest, a 4.9 aftershock. It was a miracle that no one was killed!! Tell your children how thankful they can be that they have fresh water to drink, and power to run your T.V. and refrigerator. That they have good food and clothes to wear. THESE PEOPLE LOST EVERYTHING THEY OWN, and they are still grateful. Ask your children, what would they do if they were only left with ONE BRICK!! Share this story with your church family. Even adults need to remember how much we have to be grateful for!! GOD IS GOOD!!! Hope this helps. I know it helps me. JOY BRYANT TOKOROA, NEW ZEALAND

Cheryl - posted on 12/31/2010

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Dear Jennifer:
Unfortunately we're living in a time when children are not as grateful as we as parents think they should be. The ultimate person that they are fighting against is God. I have six living children, all of them are grown and I can't count on one hand when they have shown us gratitude as a whole. I have one or two sons that seems to appreciate the things and the sacrifices that we made for them and they don't seem to ask for much help now. Yes even now we still are trying to help our children and they're all out of the house. Gratefulness is a gift from God. I think that more prayer and less gifts will help. One year we decided not to get them anything for Christmas and boy was they shocked when they woke up the next morning. We haven't had to do it since. We let them now that it wasn't their birthday is was Jesus'. This took some of the pressure off of us with finances and we never got on them about their attitude or their ungratefulness. That is betweeen them and God. You do what you know is right and help those in need and they will learn later in life how much you loved them.

Meghan - posted on 12/30/2010

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Well, my daughter is only 14 months, so I haven't had this problem yet. But, one idea I wanted to tell you about was for Christmas, my family gathers coats, blankets, muffins, and cocoa, or water and we go down to a busy city and hand things out to homeless people christmas morning. To see how little some people have really makes you appreciate the things you do have. This worked great for my teenage nieces. They were sooo appreciative of everything they had and received after that. So, keep doing the volunteer things, and try to show them how lucky they are. Money is tight for a lot of people these days, and hopefully all of our children can learn to be giving, generous adults.

Cecilia - posted on 12/26/2010

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If I was acting spoiled and ungrateful my mom would take away the things I loved most which for me was my cds and karoake machine and my stereo. I think its important for kids to know at a young age that not everyone is as fortunate as they are, maybe say they can only have one gift on Christmas if thier not going to appreciate it also tell the other family members not to spoil them I tell my family just a few things he doesnt need alot this year we couldn't afford to get him the things we wanted to he's not even 3 yet. Maybe you should introduce them to a family that has very little with children that may not have one toy to thier name something like that could be life changing. I get mad when my son doesn't eat whats put in front of him or even attempt to try it I say if you were in Africa you would eat! It's frustrating I guess what I'm saying is you have to set limits with the gifts and all. Good luck :)

Liz - posted on 12/23/2010

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Take away all the extras they have for a week, giving them only the things they need to live, then slowly give them back stuff as they earn it!! For Christmas 1 year when my kids were little, we celebrated it by only getting 3 gifts per person like baby Jesus got! Thankfully that was enough to teach them!

Heather - posted on 12/22/2010

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You have gotten some GREAT advice already. My mother-in-law actually burned her children's toys once to get her point across... She asked them to pick up and they said they did, so she took the rest out and burned them. She never had a problem with them picking things up again! My mom did the thing where she took the toys away and put them on the closet shelf. We got to earn them back or she would eventually give them away. My husband went in between. He has thrown away some toys and others we have given away. In the end our 4 children still don't get it. They just have too much, and they never end up missing the things that are gone.

One thing that I am doing is having the older 2 of my kids help me bake cookies and such to give to the homeless that we pass on the street corners. We talk about how they don't get cookies very often and what it means to be homeless. We also talk about what Jesus did while He was on earth. How He encouraged us to give to others. (Matthew 7:12, 25:31-46, and James 2:14-17)

Another really cool idea that someone shared with me this Christmas was instead of giving tangible presents they gave gift cards for a ministry. Basically you have so much money to invest in a third world business. They work to pay you back, and once they have, you can re-invest in another business. Anyway, if you are interested here is the link to the blog I read about it that explains it way better than I did!
http://solofemininity.blogs.com/posts/20...(Radical+Womanhood+(formerly+Solo+Femininity))

Susan - posted on 12/22/2010

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I totally agree with Carla on setting a limit for toys at holidays. I only have one child and she's only 2 so I don't have the problem you do (yet), but my mother-in-law likes to buy a ton of presents. My husband and I both think it's excessive and last year she told us what she had bought as of a certain point and we told her if she really wanted to spend more money to give her money towards her college fund. That is what she ended up doing. Our nephew has also been spoiled by my mother-in-law and he is now 14 and has zero work ethic and thinks he deserves stuff all the time. When he was your kids' age, everything was want, want, want. So you definitely want to correc this before they get too old. Definitely keep taking your kids to the Thanksgiving dinners, shelters, volunteer activity etc. so they can start to appreciate what they have. Maybe if you find a volunteer activity that they can relate more to they might be more receptive. My daughter is only 2, but we donated food and I explained to her that some people don't have enough food so we are sharing our food with them. I don't know if she totally got it, but for the next day or so she told her relatvies that she went to share food so it stuck in her head. I also like the idea of taking their toys away if they aren't appreciating them and making them earn them back. I know lots of parents have taken toys their kids won't clean up and put them in a bag in the attic and if they don't ask for them for a certain period of time, they just donate them. As for dinner, you are not a restaurant, they eat what you serve, end of story. You can decide if they go to bed hungry or you make them sit there and eat it. You certainly can't start making everyone a separate meal, especially with four children.

Rebecca - posted on 12/22/2010

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I have four children as well.
First I would set rules regarding items they already have. If they don't take care of what they have, take it away. Give them a warning that if you see it laying around and not being cared for again you will give it to someone who will.
My boys would not take care of the toys in their room, even after they said their room was clean, (they just had way too much), so whatever was left on the floor I put in a big bag. They had a week to earn back anything of value to them, and the rest went to the thrift store. There were only a few things that they even wanted back.

Our rule concerning food is that you eat what is served or you don't eat at all.
So I believe if you limit what they have, and require them to care for it, they will appreciate it more.
If you don't already, I would recommend setting up an allowance system, so they can earn what they want themselves. They need to learn responsibility and not believe that the world is going to give them everything they want.

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