“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Sometimes children seem ungrateful.
There, I said it.
Actually, it’s that’s not true.
Children often seem ungrateful.
But guess what? That is totally normal.
And, guess what else?
It doesn’t mean they ARE, actually, ungrateful.
Children live for the moment. They want what they want and they want it right now. And, because they don’t have enough life experiences they really can’t understand what it means to be truly grateful.
It’s our job to teach them gratitude. To be their gratitude role models.
On a recent coaching call inside my group coaching program, The Abundant Mama Peace Circle, one of our new members expressed her fear that her daughter was going to grow up entitled. She was very distressed about this. She kept bringing it up as if this was her daughters’ fate in life.
And that it was all her fault that her daughter was acting spoiled and entitled.
This post is the latest episode of The Abundant Mama Show Podcast. Listen to the episode here or keep reading below.
So, What does it mean to be Entitled?
The actual definition of entitled is this: Believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
How about we look at this another way?
Many of us grew up in a home where children should be seen and not heard. Where their opinions didn’t matter. Where their desires didn’t matter.
Listen, I’m pretty sure most parents don’t set out to create entitled children.
Most parents will NOT create entitled children. Most children are kind and sweet despite their behaviors that say otherwise.
Actually, it’s common today for our children to have strong desires and requests because our children are no longer treated as if they should be seen and not heard.
We value their opinions. We value their passions. We value their ideas. We value their creativity and desires.
They may not get their way all the time, but they are treated with respect and consideration unlike generations of the past.
And then there is this: human beings are born pessimists or optimists.
And we can train ourselves to be one or the other, believe it or not.
But some kiddos will lean toward the negative. Just like some adults lean toward the negative. 🙂
On that coaching call with my Abundant Mama tribe, I went on a bit of a soap box about the fear of raising entitled children — which I think is very over-hyped by the media.
The media has us feeling shame for wanting to be kind and compassion to our children rather than hardening our kids like they think we “should” be. This is a fine line, of course, but lacking compassion for children is the old school approach to parenting.
- Yes, we need to teach our children values. My clients do that in a BIG way. In fact, we’re constantly working on building strong values at home.
- Yes, we need to teach our children patience. My clients do that in a BIG way, In fact, we’re constantly working on our OWN patience in life.
- Yes, we need to teach our children gratitude. My clients do that is a BIG way as well. In fact, it’s the foundation of all the other work we do that empowers us to take better care of ourselves and to trust ourselves more so we can relax MORE.
- Yes, we need to teach our children hard work. My clients do that in a BIG way as well. Finding ways to empower children to do their best and be their best is at the heart of everything we do in our work together.
Honestly, I’m confident that none of my clients who ever go through the program — and take it seriously — will raise an entitled child so long as they keep their own gratitude practice going.
That’s just not who we are as a community.
We are extremely intentional and gratitude is our most basic foundation in life. We are emphatic on raising children in a positive, loving way but also by setting strong boundaries and limits.
How to Be a Gratitude Role Model for Your Children
Inside The Abundant Mama Home Study — my foundational program that has been helping women tap into their inner contentment for nearly a decade — teaches you how to USE gratitude throughout your entire day.
Every woman who goes all in on these lessons of the program around gratitude and abundance notice a huge shift in THEMSELVES and their lives almost over night.
They soon learn that they actually could be much more grateful in their day to day lives — and when they are, they see that ripple effect unfold in their own families and with their children.
They realize that their own practice becomes the modeling their children need from them rather than just barking out some orders.
When you demonstrate gratitude, you will see that reflected back to you from your child in some form or another — if you are paying attention.
But if you are not grateful yourself, you may miss just how grateful your child really is … and you miss the chance to model a lifelong practice that will guide them into a happier life.
Perhaps you are living in the Land of Bitter and Sour yourself and you don’t even realize it. Perhaps you are stressed over money and what you don’t have. Or feeling unsupported and unloved in your life.
That kind of energy flows out to our children and impacts the way they see the world.
If YOU see the world as a place of lack and scarce resources for you .. then your children will likely be feel the same way.
It’s not too late to correct this, though.
That’s the great thing about gratitude. You can flip it around and start implementing immediately.
When you are grateful … your will keep things simple.
Children are bound to start noticing the little things in life. They don’t need a lot of fancy things.
When you are grateful you will teach your child to care deeply about the world.
Children will care about what you care about. So … talk about how the rain is important to the flowers. Talk about how we get our food. Talk about the importance of Sunday morning pancakes. Talk about what matters to your children.
When you are grateful you will teach strong values and kindness.
Children need you to show them how to be thankful. They need you to model it through actions and words. When you make gratitude a cornerstone value in your home, it will make an impact in the long run. How could it not?
When you are grateful you will go out of your way to show it.
Children love to do kind things for others. They love to make people feel good. And we can go out of our way to show gratitude TO our children as well. Instead of picking out all of their flaws, we can show them that we are thankful for them being in our lives.
I will soon begin my NINTH gratitude journal — a daily practice that I use along with many other gratitude practices throughout my day and week.
Sustaining a lifelong practice, though, requires devotion and commitment — and hard work around the areas of your life where you do feel like you don’t have enough or you aren’t enough.