I cannot stand when my kids are demanding.
I’m big on showing gratitude and respect through using words like please and thank you. I took this picture when I lived in Guatemala and visited the trash dump where kids and adults search for items to eat, use, or sell. Several families even lived there. On February 19, 2018, the trash dumps collapsed on homes in Mozambique, killing at least seventeen people. It is heart-breaking. This is a difficult truth for children to bear at a young age, but as they get older, we should share these realities so they are aware. Hopefully, this will encourage prayer for and service to others, as well as gratitude.
TWO SIMPLE WORDS I use that move my children from rudeness to appreciation are “TRY AGAIN.” If there is whining, a demand, or a rude tone, I use the words, “Try Again”, and don’t respond until they do (or I just give them an annoyed look, and they know!). If my kids ask for something, they don’t get it until I hear, “Please”. They are so trained in this area that if my husband, Christian, or I forget to say please, one of our triplets will remind us, “Hey, throw a ‘please’ in there.”
Expectations also set the stage for how our children treat others and us.
But before children can follow expectations, they need to know them. When my children were younger, before going to a friend’s house, a store, or an event, I let them know my expectations. I still do at times, but since they are almost seven-years old, they have a better understanding of what is expected.
Children can often fail in this area if they are not told what to expect. But, when we are pulling up to a friend’s house, if we take the time to remind them to share and that they should show gratitude for inviting us over, they are far more likely to follow through. Before a movie or play, if we tell our kids we expect them to be quiet, they are far more likely to follow suit. If we visit a store to buy a birthday gift for a friend or a toy to donate and share that we are not going for ourselves, our children are far more likely to find the joy in giving and are less likely to complain about not buying a toy for themselves.
If we accept rude tones and ungrateful attitudes, that is exactly how our children will act.
But as we teach our children to be thankful and respectful in the small things, this attitude will be reflected more and more often.
Sharing harsh realities with our children such as the trash dump in Guatemala and what happened in Mozambique, will open our children’s and our eyes, diminish self-consumption, and create a place in our hearts to love others all over the world. However, it is important to make sure children are emotionally ready to hear some of these stories. Every parent knows their children best and what they can handle. The motivation should not be to create a guilt trip, but rather to ignite compassion. It doesn’t have to be a drawn out conversation, but just a wake up call to let them know how other families around the world live.
For younger kids, having them choose some of their own toys and clothes to give away to a local shelter or transitional housing can be even more beneficial to them.
A profound effect takes place in our children’s hearts when they participate in the giving process and actually see organizations reaching out to families in need. To get more ideas on this subject, read my article Roly Polies, Sticks and Mud: Finding Freedom in Simplicity. As our children are aware and involved with making a difference in the world, their selfishness will begin to unravel and selflessness and gratitude will begin to show their face.
All parents deal with the battle of showing respect and gratitude. But the more we are consistent, follow through with expectations, and educate them on the realities of the world along with giving and serving together, the more our children will naturally and instinctively show gratitude and respect.
To learn more about Linsey, visit www.LinseyDriskill.com, or @BeautifulHeartedParenting.