In a world that is increasingly driven by demand, how do we teach kids to appreciate what they have? In this guest post by Upasna Sethi, parenting blogger, gratitude practitioner and self-proclaimed minimalist, you will find the answer.
Do your kids demand every new thing they see in the market or in the commercials? You are not alone in this. Every kid, irrespective of their age, has unending demands and wishes.
But as Parents, how should we respond to these never-ending demands? Shall we give in to each of their demands or shall we stop them?
I hear you– You don’t want to create a scene in the market with a toddler yelling at the top of her voice.
Nor do you want to make your home the pool of things, resulting in less appreciative kids.
The best way is to make them understand but it’s not EASY.
No matter how many toys you buy for kids, they always have 1 or 2 things ready on their wish list. Having a wish list is not bad but do not fulfill their list then and there.
Talk to them about the things on their wish list and tell them that you have made note of it and will gift them on a special day.
And when the time comes, make sure to ask them if they still have the thing in their wish list or if it has been replaced by something new.
This is important because their wishes changes so frequently just like their moods.
Make Gratitude a Habit
Before bringing new things home, let them be thankful for what they already have. Kids are not grateful by default.
Like other habits, they need to be taught about the habit of gratitude and it takes time and practice.
Do not just ask them to say thank you. Involve them in a deeper gratitude practice.
Be careful to include the details. Ask them to be grateful for a toy which makes you all sit together to play, grateful for home cooked or tasty food, grateful for sibling’s help or presence.
The best time to practice Gratitude is in the morning, at the table or before going to bed at night when they patiently listen to what you have to say. Kids follow your actions more than your words. So when you are grateful, they imitate the same
Ask them not to compare
Make them understand that they can’t have everything. This is not true for small kids but you can always try.
Help them appreciate Home cooked food.
Help them appreciate the Cozy bed they have.
When we help them notice these blessings, they will stop comparing.
Teach them to share
The first step towards teaching them is to appreciate them.
Appreciate their small efforts of sharing. Appreciation reinforces their behavior and they will learn to repeat it over time.
Explain the benefit of sharing by live examples. For instance, if they share any eatable with you- tell them that you were hungry and now you are feeling better.
If they share any toy with others- tell them that they made someone smile.
Help them understand the truth of commercials
My 4-year-old always gets attracted to the commercials shown on TV. I tell him that it’s not real.
He does not always believe me but I let him try by himself for small things. Once, he was so delighted by the toy that comes with Kinder Joy but when he opened it and saw the toy- his joy faded away.
I suppose he understood the cheat game of commercials because his fascination with Kinder Joy is gone now.
Fix their spending amount
This is something you can do with older kids.
Fix their pocket money or allowance and tell them that they can only spend that much. This way they will learn the saving skills and make sensible purchasing decisions.
Do not link celebration with spending
We always tend to relate any celebration with spending money and buying things, be it birthday, anniversary or festival.
Let them understand the real purpose behind the festivals.
Festivals should not mean only getting gifts but the occasion for a get-together, doing something for loved ones and time to explore creativity.
Help them give back
Teach them the power of giving and the joy it gives to others and self.
Make charity a custom. Tell them that not everyone gets what they need and they should help those people.
Ask them to choose one of their belongings to be given away; to someone in need.
This also helps them realize the value of money, given their age.
Involve them in household chores
When kids are involved in the daily chores, they will appreciate others doing it for them.
You can engage kids in the chores according to their age. Even a toddler can set a dinner table or clean up a floor full of toys.
It does not matter if they create a mess . What they learn out of it, matters.
Let them move out of the bubble
If our Kids don’t get out, it is not easy for them to appreciate what they have.
They need to move out of their comfort zone called Home and experience the real world out there.
While we all want our kids to appreciate what they have, but it is the process which takes time and effort.
Every little effort of ours count and it helps them to transform into Grateful human beings.
About the Guest writer: Upasna Sethi
Upasna Sethi is a parenting blogger, gratitude practitioner and self-proclaimed minimalist. She shares her own parenting struggles and solutions as the mother of two kids. Her quest for minimalism and gratitude led her to publish an e-book on minimalism and an app for daily gratitude.