For some reason summer time is the perfect breeding ground for “entitlement” to creep in. But raising grateful kids in an entitled world is not impossible. Below I share some practical ways.
We had just arrived at our nice hotel in the Amazon jungle, a trip we’d enjoyed before but this time we were going to go deeper in and visit with the indigenous indians. I was so excited because for years I’ve wanted to return, but either we had a baby and it’s not recommended to take babies to the jungle or we didn’t have the money.
One of my boys walks into our very awesome cabin in the jungle surrounded by monkeys and that’s when the complaining began–his journey down to the “it’s all about me” path.
Moms I”m sure you know where this is headed. Before I knew it, he was having a full blown whiney melt down.
You didn’t give me… I want this…
HOW ENTITLEMENT SNEAKS IN!
For some reason when summer rolls around it turns our kids into entitled little brats and I don’t say that to be mean. Actually, some of it is partly our fault because they are going from one activity to the next, family trips, music lessons camp and what, not all summer long to keep them from being bored. None of these things are harmful in themselves. But somehow it sends the message to our children that summer is all about them and their happiness. God forbid our kids are bored.
In the busyness and self-centeredness of our lives, we sadly forget how much our lives have been blessed by and radically redirected by the generosity of God… Every morning, God’s generosity greets us in at least a dozen ways, but we barely recognize it as we frenetically prepare for our day. When we lay our exhausted heads down at the end of the day, we often fail to look back on the many gifts that dripped from God’s hands into our little lives.”~ paul tripp
Entitlement Blinds Us
When our kids walk around with entitlement they are blinded. They can’t see the beauty and blessings that surround them.
In a matter of seconds, they turn into mini bottomless pits and nothing can satiate their hunger. They want more. More eating out, more vacations, more summer camps, more lessons, more video games, more toys, more stuff, more, more and more. At this point, the forget everything they’ve been taught and the line of wants and needs is so blurred, they don’t even notice it.
They want everything handed to them and it’s everyone else’s responsibility to deliver for them.
Have you ever seen your kids go there? Or even come close to it? It’s not pretty.
Don’t fret when your kids are having these moments and you just want to bang your head on the wall because you feel like a complete failure.
Here’s the reality your kids are just learning to express themselves. They are learning to navigate their desires and their needs even if you’ve reminded them a million times to be thankful.
The reality is it’s our job to steer them in the right direction every single time, over and over again. Don’t give up and don’t let it go, because you’re too tired. Guide them in the direction of thankfulness each time with some of the ideas I share below.
The Brain and Gratitude
The brain fascinates me and the more I read and study up on it, I’m convinced and encouraged by all the new research that points to the ability our brain has to build new neural pathways.
My kids will have tantrums, whine, complain and go into entitlement mode but the more I redirect them and guide them so that on their own they can come to the realization that gratitude gives birth to joy, those pathways begin to develop. The more they do this, the brain will then automatically take them down the gratitude route instead of the entitlement route. And that my friends is every parents hope!
So on to gratitude!
Gratitude is like sunshine, it spreads and there’s no hiding it. And that’s my hope, I want our summer to be filled with gratitude! I want to be filled with joy in abundance because of the many little gifts, I’ve counted along the way.
Reminding my kids that summer is filled with many opportunities to look around us and be thankful for all the little gifts we’ve been given, is my biggest hope. I love summer because it’s a time where I feel empowered as a mom to guide my children. I love summer because it’s the time we have as parents to focus on instilling and practicing character with our kids.
I GET TO 100% fully pour into the lives of my children. Of course, this happens throughout the school year but during the summer–I get them all to myself.
Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward & learning to enjoy whatever life has –and this requires transforming greed into gratitude. ~St. John Chrysostom
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
This is what we have planned:
- Gratitude Family Journal we are calling it our Awesome Summer Gratitude Journal go check out the free printable!
- Reading books about Generosity, Empathy, Kindness and Sacrifice
- Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt – Have each child try to find all the items on the list they are thankful for.
- Ponder as You Travel– Start a journal where your kids can reflect on the many things they experienced that day. Have them write things they experienced with their 5 Senses (see, hear, taste, touch and smell).
- Random Acts of Kindness – Handing out fresh flowers to people waiting in the hospital. Write thank you cards. Here’s a long list of random acts of kindness summer ideas or this I Spy Random Acts of Kindness Jar or this Acts of Kindness Coin Jar! My recent favorite is this Random Acts of Kindness Summer Bucket List
- Count Your Blessings Dinner Song –Sing the song “Count Your Blessings” before your meal.
- Make a Wants and Needs list Ask your children to identify the things that are wants and the ones that are needs. Explain the difference. Then go through your needs list daily or weekly and give thanks to God for those needs that are met.
- Go on a gratitude walk or hike. This is a great article with some ideas to practice gratitude and enjoy some physical activity.
- Send thank you notes.
- Put them to work around the house. Household chores is a wonderful way to get your kids out of the “entitlement” funk. I shared before that we don’t pay for our kids to do chores because we all pitch in to make our house a livable space.
- The “I Like” Game— At the dinner table or walk around your house and take turns saying what you like in that room. It has to be something you can see. You can even do this outside. This helps your kids start thinking about the abundant life they live.
- Why? Gratitude Game— Split group into 2 teams. Then each team will have 1 minute to come up with things they are thankful that start with a certain letter of the alphabet. You can choose any letter. Once your time is up you give the other team your list and they can challenge your responses and ask you “Why?” you are thankful for this item. Each team has to come up with a reason which makes you think and get creative.
Let gratitude be birthed in your home today!
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