Fostering Gratitude Not Entitlement

With the rise of our more transparent global society we are aware, (for the first time) of those who have incredible levels of wealth. And some of our children want that too. After all, doesn't everyone deserve to be a princess...

But is it possible the seeds of discontent can be sown in our children early on. A child can 'buy the lie' social media spins, never realizing they have unrealistic expectations that are impossible to fulfill.

By not educating our children that others are equally important they can feel they're better than others. This results in disrespect and the associated behaviours that go with it: rudeness, bullying, etc.


2. Talk about Privilege, About How Privileged We All Are and Develop a Dialogue about Gratitude.


  • Explain the difference between rights and privileges so your young child learns to appreciate how many, many privileges they have in their life.

Help in charity drives. Show your children examples of people who are worse off. And show them practical ways to help.


  • Highlight the many privileges your children have.

That way, as they become teenagers, instead of feeling entitled for everything they have in life, they feel grateful.

  • Let your children experience not getting their own way.


How do children build resilience if they never get to exercise it? If every light in their life is green (so to speak) children begin to expect it. Later when they're rejected by a boyfriend, or girlfriend, they don't have the skills to cope. Children need to be able to dust themselves off, accept disappointments and move on.

Often genuinely appreciating people can transform their world.


Often adults, not just children, feel unappreciated, unimportant or even unloved. Sometimes adults will risk everything in their life for someone who shows them some appreciation. e.g. Online dating scammers use adoration/appreciation to exploit the vulnerable.


  • Model gratitude in your every day life.


Let your child see that you're grateful for what you have, and are willing to verbalize it. 'I love you guys.' I'm so lucky to have you.' If you're out and someone treats you well, acknowledge it. Let them see good manners and positive social interactions from you rather than entitlement.

4. Be gracious and kind to people who can do nothing for you. It's commonsense, yet many don't do it.

That way your child learns how to treat all people with dignity. Notice and comment on good service, smile at shop assistants and waiters. Be polite.

5. Get to know people in your community and be a  part of it.


Be well-mannered and helpful. E.g: Take in your neighbour's bins if you know they'll be late home, put their newspaper under cover if it's raining, if you know them well you could get their washing in and put it under cover, etc

It's not what you say, it's what you do, your children will copy.

  • Children aren't armed with the same levels of life experience or critical thinking, so when exposed to advertising, or peer pressure, can find it difficult to understand why they can't have what they want

  • Educating children about the importance of others, as well as ourselves, helps them remain respectful

  • Develop a dialogue around privilege so your child recognizes every day privileges in their lives. And link increasing privileges to increasing responsibility

  • Model respect and appreciation in your everyday interactions with others

  • Express gratitude to your children for acting responsibly and thoughtfully

  • Be fair and give others the benefit of the doubt

  • Encourage your children to spend time in nature, particularly where they can be awestruck by things greater than themselves

As a community we can all suffer when someone, who's entitled, feels it's their right to impact others lives.

While some children grow out of it, others never do.

So how do you combat this short-term focused, me-focused, shallow desire for immediate gratification? And how do you develop good self esteem without making children arrogant and entitled?

 1. Get your children into nature so they learn to appreciate simplicity and natural beauty. Let them be awestruck by things bigger than themselves:


  • Spend positive time together building the relationship and on activities that cost little or are free: going to the beach, or the lake, or a play at the park, etc. Take a picnic. Hang out together and express how wonderful it is just to be together.

  • Go to places that are naturally awe-inspiring: an ocean after storm, a lookout, a walk through an old growth forest. Let your children see they are part of something bigger than themselves.

For example: Watching T.V. is a privilege. (It certainly is for me, and most other adults, during a working week.) Afternoon school activities, a privilege. Toys and games, a privilege. Going to a friend's to play, a privilege. Even providing the foods they like best for meals is actually a privilege.


Link their privileges to things they earn like: being trustworthy, cooperative, responsible, helpful, thoughtful, etc.

3. Notice the Positive Wherever Possible and Express Gratitude...


  • Give your child an unexpected privilege they'll really appreciate and link it to gratitude for what they've done. And be specific.


It can often be something you were going to do for them anyway. This can be a book written by their favourite author (for a child who loves to read,) a kick around the back yard with a footy (if that's their thing,) even reading an extra book at bedtime (while they're little) because they were so cooperative.


Say something like: 'I've been so impressed with the way you handled the extra load we put on you when your little brother was sick. You stepped up; made sure we ate healthy meals when we got home from the hospital, kept the washing up to date for us and even stacked the dishwasher. I really appreciate it. I don't know what we would have done without you.'

6. Give your child a positive script to live up to, even if they occasionally blow it. And give them strategies so they can flip negative thinking around to something more in perspective.


For example: 'You usually do well in your exams. Everyone has a tough test now and again. It'll even out, you'll see. Is there anything I can do to help you with it?'

7. Be fair. Forgive. Your child is going to make mistakes. Be gracious rather than right.


If your child were already perfect they wouldn't need a parent. This sobering anonymous poem from a child's perspective says it all:

Please don't judge me harshly.

Forgive me what I do.

'Cause if I were already perfect...

How would I feel about you.

For more Best Parenting Advice linked to behaviour go to the following links:

Why Natural Consequences?
The Value of Natural Consequences
Managing Behaviour Well
Managing Behaviour Well
Boundaries Help Raise Good Kids
Setting Boundaries
Why Be Consistent?
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Why Spend Postive Time Together?
A father playing chess with his son can help create a positive relationship
The True Value of Routines
The Value of Routines
Show More

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