By Melissa Ford
He's a self-absorbed, lazy kid.
Why does she always think it's about her?
He never takes care of his toys!
She cries just to manipulate me AND it works!
Ever entertained one of these thoughts about your kid? Of course you have, but what really is the problem? Is your child just a whiny, entitled kid or have you bought into the idea that your child NEEDS things and you HAVE to provide them? If it's the latter - you're in luck! There's a solution to your problem: become aware of the intention behind your giving.
Most of us think that a few reminders such as "please" and "thank you" are the real tools we need to instill appreciation in our kids. It goes deeper than that: teaching gratitude requires a conscious shift in our thinking from "I owe my child and need to provide him or her things," to "I only give to my child because I want to." Gulp! Isn't that selfish? Isn't that unloving? Don't we have a responsibility to our kids?
Giving to our child (whether it's cell phones, car rides, tv's/computers, play dates, homework help, etc.), takes on an entirely new meaning when we want to give. Wanting to help with homework, cook that special meal, spend mother-daughter time together, transforms seemingly day-to-day expectations into gifts and acts of love.
On the other hand, if we believe we need to provide our kid with vacations, music lessons, one-on-one time (not that we wouldn't want to!), then we teach our child that we owe him or her. Appreciation flies out the window with expectations, confirming our child's perspective (and our belief) that all we do, provide, give, and offer are merely parental obligations we have no choice, but to fulfill. No wonder our child acts entitled and we, as parents, feel burdened, irritated, and unappreciated.
The reality is that we give to our kids because we want to, because we love them NOT because we HAVE TO, SHOULD, MUST, or NEED TO. Once we shift our intention behind our giving, only then will our children stop expecting and start becoming aware of all they receive. The bonus? We'll feel loving, appreciated and free when we give and our kids will feel loved, appreciative, and satisfied when they receive.
Let's truly love our children by teaching them the joy of appreciation!