How do I teach my kids to be more grateful and appreciate what they do have?

Missy - posted on 12/12/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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I need recommendations on how to teach your kids to be grateful for what they have and not complain about what's for dinner, the size of their room ,being bored, not getting a certain toy, etc. We spent the afternoon at a Christmas parade and we got home and the first thing I here is "we should do something special today that's Christmasy". Hello! They are like that with everything though and it's getting old!

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Pamela - posted on 12/16/2009

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When my child complains about what is for dinner, I take away his plate. " Oh well....., I guess if you can afford to be picky, you must not be really hungry..." Usually, he will apologize and ask for his supper back. The next night, I will ask for input on the evening meal. If the answer is " I don';t know" then they get what they get and if they don't like it - the opportunity to go to bed hungry is always available. However, that being said, they also know that my kitchen is not a restaurant and the options for a meal or snack are limited. If you don't like what's on the menu offer input for the next meal. If you don;t offer input and dont like the menu- too bad - my response is " Eat it or go hungry ... your choice." If I feel bad later, 'cause he's hungry, then the offer of warming up the previously turned down meal is offered. No child ever got sick from missing one meal and certainly wasn';t hurt by going to bed hungry. It can be a strong lesson.

Tamika - posted on 12/16/2009

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Quoting angela:

Heres what worked for me. They have too much, and have the attitude, 'If I break it, or lose it Mom will get me a new one'. I just quit giving them so much stuff. It really does make them appreciate what they have more.



I totally agree with this one. My children are very spoiled and i am to blame for that. I had everything i wanted growing up so i tried to give my children the same thing. However it really became a bad habit when they got around 2 or 3.  This happened to also be around the time my husband and i split so i could not afford to give them as i used to. I had to start telling them the truth which worked for me. I let them know that "mommy doesn't have it at this moment, but if you will be patient with me i will try my best to get it for you but it is not a promise so you might not be able to get it right now." Eventually over time, they started understanding and even to this day they will not say "mommy i want this or i want that", they will ask me "mommy if you can will you think about getting this for me"  I also teach them to give away things that are too small or that they will not use and when they do i will get them one or two "new" items. They enjoy that part and are very willing to rid of old things

Jenny - posted on 12/15/2009

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Hey Missy, you're not alone. What we've done is sponsor 2 orphans - 1 in Africa and 1 in India. We get mail and updates on how they're doing, and we often send little packs of stickers. It's amazing how grateful those kids are for the stickers - they truly light up their life. It's like getting the best toy ever. When we get thanks through the post I use this to show my little girl how grateful they are, for how little they have. I also have spent time saying we're going to have a full 1/2/3/4+ hours with no toys, TV, painting, reading - anything that a disadvantaged kid wouldn't be able to have access to. It can be difficult to adjust to at first (even for an hour - crazy!) It's made a real difference - and honestly, it's made a real difference to me, too. Even I hadn't appreciated how easy it is to give my kids a toy to play with or DVD, so I could get on with my stuff. So it's been a good lesson for all of us. The fact you recognise your kids aren't appreciating all they have is great - some parents don't even notice this, don't address it and so the cycle continues. Good luck with all you're doing!

Melissa - posted on 12/14/2009

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I would suggest is to take there things away so that they could learn the value of things. I have three kids and they are the most polite kids you could meet. We don't have much, but they appreciate what they get because I talk to them and let them know the situation. For instance my daugther want to go on a trip and I had to explain to her that I couldn't afford to let her go. She has a little hurt and I reassured her, but she understood. Sorry to take yiu away from your question, but my point is talk to your kids and make them understand the value of life.. I hope you or anybody take offense to my message.

Felicia - posted on 12/14/2009

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Anglea,
This is so true. At out home we have the policy that if you break it you pay for a new one out of your own money, if you lose something (even a pair of shoes or a coat) then you go without until it is found or enough funds have been raised by the child who lost the item to buy another. Another policy is if items are left out and not put up then they are earned by completing 3 extra chores. These chores are time consuming...clean the whole bathroom, vaccum the whole house, sweep and mop every noncarpeted area of the house. After once or twice of having to follow these things, all of my children have learned to appreciate their stuff and put it up in its proper place.

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Nicollecourtney - posted on 09/03/2013

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what i really want to do is have my kids somehow serve in the community to see that not everyone is as lucky as them, like having food clothing and toys. My kids are not spoiled but they do think they need every toy or item they see on the tv.

Bridgette - posted on 12/17/2009

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I have a 6 year old girl and an 8 year old boy. My husband and I are teaching them that we are not going to replace an item every time they break it. I don't know why they think that we can just go out and buy another one. We put a stop to that idea quickly. My son has learned to save his money now since my daughter saved up hers and bought a toy from Walmart that she wanted. He use to take a dollar to school and waste it on chips and pencils that he didn't need. Now he saves his money. My daughter still asks for every toy she sees on tv but she knows that we can't afford to get everything and some of the things are a waste of money anyway. She does extremely well in school and is even in an advanced 1st grade class. For doing so well in school, I did the best I could and got her at least one thing that she really wanted for X-mas and was even able to get it at an excellent price. My son does well in school and he could do even better if he would stay focus and wasn't easily distracted. I am very proud of all of his accomplishments. He has been a fighter since the day he was born. I won't go into his background b/c this is not the forum for it but I will say that he has been through more than most of us will ever experience already during his 8 years of life. I love my children and I will continue to teach them the value of a dollar and to be thankful for what we do have.

Nichole - posted on 12/16/2009

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:) Not to be light about a serious issue, but have you seen that commercial for the playstation 3, I think it is, when the tech support guy tells the bratty teenager that he should let his grandmother enjoy the PS3 because all she used to play with was a hoop and a STICK!...with a STICK!...STICK!! (Cracks me up.)
When my girls were very young we got into this bad habit, everytime we went out to the grocery store or wherever they thought they had to have something. They got a toy, a gumball, whatever. It didn't break the bank, but it was the idea that it wasn't a special thing to them anymore because it was something they had become accustomed to. Breaking that was hard. One day I was pinched for money & my daughter starts whining about getting a toy necklace from one of those quarter machines at the grocery store. I told her no, dealt with her fit until we got home, then sat her down beside me to pay the bills. She was astounded to see how expensive the bills were. After that when she would ask for a toy I felt she didn't need I would remind her of the day we paid the bills together.They also see Mom helping the homeless, it makes them take stock and be grateful.

Stephanie - posted on 12/15/2009

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Well my 8 year old saids"you get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

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Maybe I'm radical, but when my little one gets stroppy then her things just disappear for a while. It gets thrown on the floor in disgust, then it disappears onto a high shelf in a closet for a couple of days. If she's too much for me then I suggest throwing all her toys in the garbage if she doesn't want them. She's still little (just turning 4), so that works fine for now. For older kids, I'm not sure - don't have the experience.

Lindsay - posted on 12/14/2009

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When they get in the attitude that they don't have enough, take it away for a week. Once they go a week without TV or video games or even a favorite toy, they will appriciate it when they earn it back.

Angela - posted on 12/14/2009

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Heres what worked for me. They have too much, and have the attitude, 'If I break it, or lose it Mom will get me a new one'. I just quit giving them so much stuff. It really does make them appreciate what they have more.

Missy - posted on 12/13/2009

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Thanks for the ideas ladies! We actually have driven into poverty ridden neighborhoods to show them and we do participate in Operation Christmas Child and Pennies for Patients and support mission projects, etc. They also have some friends that don't have nearly as much and understand that they do have more than a lot but for them it's just not enough. I think maybe you're right Felicia, that it's time they become more involved in actually doing more volunteering because at least then they wouldn't have as much time to complain and they could experience first hand what it's like to help people who don't have much. Very good idea!

Felicia - posted on 12/12/2009

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Hello Missy,
I am the mom of 6 children. I have taken my children to nursing homes to sing songs to the elderly, at Christmas I have participated in Operation Christmas Child with my children. I spend a lot of time telling them about children in America and in other countries that are without.
Two years ago my husband and I took our then 14 and 11 year old girls on a mission trip to Haiti. This was an eyeopening experience for them. They came home greatful for what they have and told their younger siblings about their experience. In March my daughter Lauren now 13 will be going on a mission trip to work with inner city children in Memphis.
I think that the best way to show our children how to be greatful is to get out and serve the less fortunate. We have worked in soup kitchens and the like. I hope this helps.
Felicia

Danielle - posted on 12/12/2009

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I know exactly what you mean. I have four kids and my oldest two are 10 and 9. They are the same way. I wish I had the magic answer for us both. When I was younger, my mom would take my brother and I to visit the sick kids in the hospitals at Christmas time. I always thought that was special. I also remember one time, she drove me down to the projects and showed me houses that didn't have doors, people living on the streets, etc... Maybe it's time to pass some of that on. We can talk about things until we're blue in the face, but until they actually see things for themselves, they won't actually believe it.

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