Instilling Gratitude vs. Entitlement in Your Child

Each fall, we parents begin thinking more and more about how we can teach our children to be “grateful, thankful, and less entitled!” Even though it’s something we should be practicing more than just at this time of year, the Thanksgiving Season brings it to the forefront of our attention.

I recently attended a “Character Council” luncheon here in Oklahoma City. Each month, this group invites speakers from the business world that are finding ways of making their businesses, schools, and even cities those of Character. As last month’s speaker from Hobby Lobby stated, “It is befitting for businesses to invest in employees of character. They increase employee morale and productivity and decrease absenteeism.”

Gratitude is one of those character tenets that must be nurtured for it to grow. If it is not nourished, entitlement will bloom in its place. Our oldest child had always been raised to be thankful and grateful, but teens, hormones, and a thankful-grateful heart somehow do not combine. When she turned 14, she began to take on the traits of entitlement. She “demanded” that she would only wear the popular and expensive brand of clothing that was all the rage in middle school. Well, Mom and Dad decided she needed reminding to be thankful and grateful of what she was receiving. When it came time for school clothes shopping, she was given the choice of what we provided, or to go to a Thrift Store to purchase her school clothes. She was outraged. She had totally bought into the concept of entitlement. So, she received good, used clothes from the local Thrift Store to begin school. We also had her go through her closets and remove her clothes that no longer fit her. She boxed these up for charity and then she worked at a local charity and food bank. She quickly realized that there were many who were less fortunate that she and felt a sense of accomplishment when she could give back to those. 

Now, with five children of her own, she is an extremely grateful, humble, and even frugal adult.  She and her husband are also instilling those character traits within their children.

I read and wanted to share this article on ways parents can help to cultivate the character trait of Gratefulness.

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

-- By Melodie Fulmer, Executive Director of Parent and Community Engagement

Last updated on December 8, 2017