Episode 19 –

Teaching Your Kids Gratitude

Episode 19

“Yes, I believe even gratitude can be made into a habit.”

We all want our children to be grateful for the big and little things in life but teaching gratitude can leave us feeling deflated. In this episode Sharon shares simple but powerful ways you can routinely instill gratitude in your children. Listen in to hear how modeling this behavior and telling stories in your family can have a big impact on your kids. Thanks for listening! Contact Sharon here with any questions or suggestions from this show!

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Intro: Welcome to the Raiseology podcast with your host, pediatrician and parenting mentor, Sharon Somekh here to empower parents to raise resilient and independent children. Grab your coffee or your Margarita and let’s get started. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should be used to supplement rather than substitute the care provided by your physician.

Sharon: Hi everyone. I wanted to let you guys know about some new stuff that I’ve been doing before we get into this episode. So I’ve been doing a lot of, um, parenting courses and a speeches and the live form and another really exciting thing that I’ve been doing is small group, uh, evenings like sort of like mom night, evenings in people’s homes, which have been really awesome and allowed me to get to know people in a much more intimate way and answer questions in a more intimate way. If you’re interested in contacting me about any public speaking engagements or would like to find out about how you can set up an intimate gathering in your home, please email me at Sharon@raiseology.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sharon: With Thanksgiving approaching. I thought this would be timely, but it should go without saying that while this time of year, we wonderfully focus a lot of attention on being thankful and appreciative for what we have. Gratitude is something we should be practicing and teaching our children year round. Stick around to hear the simple things you can do at home routinely to instill gratitude in your children.

But why is gratitude so important in our current world? We have access to so much. Some of it amazing and wonderful and some of it gives us pause and makes this question our own self worth. We see everything others have, experiences there are enjoying vacations they’re taking and the clothes they’re buying. Social media has us leaving very little to the imagination or worse seeing the curated lives of what people are choosing to post. I had a great discussion the other day with a friend about this. Even as adults, it is so easy to forget that what we see on social media are the stories that others are choosing to put out there. We need to remember to view social media and enjoy it for what it’s worth, and yet it’s so easy to forget that. It behooves us to be happy and grateful for what we have because as I tell my children, there will always be people with more, just as there will always be people less fortunate than we are. Those who are truly happy are those who appreciate what they have. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t strive for more, but the challenge as I see it is to be grateful for what’s in front of you while working towards reaching your highest goals. Recently a mom posted a really interesting question in the Raiseology parenting facebook community. With her permission, I’m rereading her posts so that we can all learn something valuable.

“All right. Mom’s my oldest just turned for our neighbor, dropped off a present for her the other night and I’m glad they did not stick around because she was beyond ungrateful. She flat out said, this is it, mom. I don’t even like clothes. She was upset that it wasn’t a toy I’m sure. I didn’t even know how to respond. I was so floored and embarrassed. I explained to her that they were nice and thinking of her and that that is the meaning of a present. Any ideas on how to break this habit or help the situation?”

This situation is really tough but brings about a great teaching opportunity for this mom and really for all of us. We have all been in the position of receiving a gift that we didn’t love. The main thing we want to teach our kids is how to respectfully receive a gift and appreciate the sentiment. In this, as in so many other situations, roleplaying is a great tool. Teaching your kids about how to gratefully received gifts is something you can role play with them and may serve them well as we approach the holiday season. So tell them you’re about to give them a gift and see what their reaction is. Give them something that you know they’re not gonna love and teach them what the appropriate way to open up the gift in front of someone is, even when you’re not really loving what it is. You don’t need to teach them to lie and say they love it, but they should at least appreciate the sentiment and say thank you and really appreciate the thought that somebody was thinking about them. It’s equally important to show your kids how you react when you receive a gift and sometimes opening gifts in front of them is a great way for them to see you modeling that behavior that you want them to exhibit.

We need to remember that our kids are always watching what we’re doing and sometimes we may not think about that and we may be judging or talking about gifts we’ve received in an unfavorable way that we would not want them to repeat. So just try to pay attention to what you’re doing when you don’t realize that they’re paying attention. Modeling gratitude is so important. If you really stop and appreciate things in your lives and discuss that appreciation with the kids, they will start to get into the same habits themselves. Yes, I believe even gratitude can be made into a habit. At first, we may need to remind ourselves to talk about and even think about what we’re grateful for, but if we work hard and making it a regular occurrence, it will become a habit, and since gratitude has been shown in so many to be intimately linked to happiness, this is a habit you can surely feel great about working toward.

It may sound so simple, but remembering to use the words please and thank you at home is so important. The more consistent we are at this, the faster and more consistently our children will use those words as well. I’ve heard so many parents recently talk about how paying attention to this little tidbit alone has made a huge difference in their home. One thing that I’ve had many parents discussed with me is how can they prevent their children from behaving spoiled? Some families are privileged enough to be able to take nice trips and have nice things, and while they don’t want to give those things up, they also don’t want their kids having certain expectations and feeling that nice things are owed to them. Brenae Brown said it best when she said that the difference between privilege and entitlement is gratitude. Many parents have worked hard and are be able to give their kids nice things or experiences, but they struggle with this feeling of not wanting to raise entitled children who later become entitled adults. I think it’s important to note two things. First, even if you can afford to give your children something you don’t need to feel that you should or need to just because they want it. I remember when my oldest was younger, probably around seven and she wanted her own iPad. At the time, we had an iPad for the family and my husband and I really felt that it was enough for her, but lots of her friends were receiving ipads for their birthdays and even showing up at parties with their devices and we didn’t feel that that was something that she needed. Limiting screen time was really important to us and while we could have purchased an iPad for her, we didn’t feel that she should have one. I see so many parents that feel guilty about being able to do something for their kids, but not doing it. Sometimes not doing things is more powerful and provides opportunity for you to teach a great lesson.

Your kids do not need everything their friends have and as parents, it’s really to your discretion what you would like to give them or not. That being said, neither you nor your kids should be made to feel guilty for having nice things or wanting to take nice trips. As Brenae Brown notes gratitude is the main difference in how your children will view these material items and experiences. If you can succeed in making your children understand the value of what they have and really get them to truly appreciate it, you have succeeded at something great. This may look very different in different homes. Some have a ritual where they know what they’re thankful for each day. You may choose to talk to your kids about your family’s history and discuss how you’re able to give them the things that they have and why they’re valuable.

We do this in our home. You know, we’re really fortunate, but our parents did not always have everything that they wanted or the ability to have everything that they wanted. And often I’ll have my dad tell the kids stories about what it was like growing up and how hard they had to work for every penny really. Um, and I think that even though sometimes kids might think these stories are boring or not really truly want to listen to them, they do learn a ton from them and to quite frankly so do I. I love hearing these stories about my parents when they were kids and what their lives were like. And of course, as an adult today, I appreciate them way more than I can expect my kids to. But I think that those stories are not completely lost on them. And if you have the opportunity to share those stories, whether in person or through photo albums, it really is a wonderful memory for your kids to have and teaches them something so valuable. In our home, we also have our kids earn the valuables. They want the ones that they want most, that are most precious to them so that they can appreciate the hard work that goes into obtaining it. I find as a result that they really care for those possessions much better than others that they’ve received as gifts. But I do have a kind of a funny story to tell about that too.

One of our daughters really wanted an iPod and after some consideration and discussion with her about why she felt that that was important to her, we allowed her to begin her journey of earning one. After about a year or so, she earned her iPod by doing different things around the house that were sort of out of the ordinary for what we expect or really showing kindness in special ways to her sisters. I will note that in our reward system in our house, our children also lose money earned if they are misbehaving or not behaving in a way that we think is exemplary for them. So in any event, she earned her iPod. After about maybe six months or so we took a trip to Las Vegas and she was advised not to bring her iPod on this particular portion of the trip where we were visiting a lake. But she gave the compelling argument that she really wanted it mostly just to take pictures and have those memories, um, of the trip. So reluctantly we allowed her to bring it and in a very strange way the iPod fell and in her haste to try to grab it, it pushed it right over the edge of the dock and into the lake did the iPod go. And of course, you know, we had lots of tears and I, you know, I don’t think anyone there didn’t feel badly for her, really. It was so sad to watch, you know, this eight year old lose one of her, I mean, probably her most valuable possession that she worked so hard to obtain. And so we were left with this feeling of, you know, well, what do we do now? Do we, you know, I mean, obviously we understand that she’s going to want to replace it. But we wanted her to also learn a lesson in responsibility and we didn’t want her to feel that these things are really come very easily because then I didn’t think she would truly appreciate it. So we found that, um, we found a happy medium that worked for us and what we did was, you know, of course my parents were there and my sisters were there and everybody wanted to help her, you know, replace this iPod. So we allowed everyone to give a very small sort of donation, if you will, towards her ipod so that she would feel like she had a little bit less of a way to go to earn a new one. And then she did have to continue to earn the remainder of, um, of the money and I will note that we don’t allow birthday money and all of that to count. So while she probably could have earned it easily with birthday money, we, we wanted her to, to earn it in a way that she would feel that she was earning it and it took her about six months and she recently did receive her iPod again. Um, and she’s very happy camper, but, you know, it’s just a story to sort of show you one way of doing things. And that’s not to say that you have to do that with everything. Um, but I do feel that she takes care of her possessions in a different way when she is earning them then when she’s not, and today when I advise her not to take her iPod somewhere for fear that she may lose it, she actually really does listen and I think she truly appreciates the, um, the advice too because she, she definitely doesn’t want to lose it again.

So, you know, like so many things in parenting, there’s not really a clear way that works best for everyone, but if you really keep your goals in mind of what you want for your children, it will make you appreciate this journey and help them develop the traits and habits that are most important to you. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. I truly appreciate each and every one of you for listening. I love hearing from listeners, so please feel free to send me an email at Sharon@raiseology.com. And let me know how I can better serve.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast head over to www.Raiseology.com. Where you’ll find plenty of, you’ve got this resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned in today’s show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podCatcher so that you can listen to the next episode the minute it’s out. Until next time, have an empowered week.

Meet Your Mentor

Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.

 After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.

 The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.

Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.

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This site and the information contained therein is for educational purposes only. This site is not a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. The use of this site does not create a doctor-patient relationship.

Your privacy is important to us so we want to let you know. This site uses tracking technology, such as cookies and pixels to enhance your user experience and provide social media features. You can find out more here.

Copyright © 2019 Raiseology | Privacy Policy

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