One Conversation to Cultivate Gratitude and Fight Entitlement in Our Children

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teaching kids gratitude

This was our first Christmas with a child old enough to want “more.”

Old enough to get that crazed look in her eyes when presented with a mountain of presents from extended family on Christmas morning.

Old enough to now think that because she got new things, she should get new things.

This mentality is something I work against all year long, but in the wake of Christmas, I am especially aware of the strong temptation our children face towards entitlement and greed.

And often times the source of this “recipe for an unhappy and unpleasant life” is us, the well-meaning parents.

So how do we cultivate gratitude and squash entitlement?

Over the past week, my daughter (a 3, almost 4-year-old) and I have started a rich line of conversation that I have found very fruitful.

It all stems from the basic principle that

God owns everything.

The things we have are ours to use because of His love, grace and provision in our lives.

They are given by Him, and should be held in open hands knowing He may take them back or ask us to pass them along at any time according to His goodness and sovereign will.

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”

Deuteronomy 8:18 — “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

Psalm 50:10-12 “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.”

The main implications of this are:

  1. We should be grateful for everything we have and give glory and thanks to God.
  2. We should not assume that we deserve things.
  3. We should be willing to share sacrificially as we feel led.

This has been an ongoing conversation in our household that our daughter has personally brought up and applied to a variety of situations.

For example, driving the other day she said, “Mom, do you see all these cars around us? They all belong to God. He’s just letting us all and the people them!”

“Yes, and that’s exactly why we should thank God for what we have today. We may not have it tomorrow,” I respond. “But not everybody knows that their car is a blessing from God. A lot of people aren’t thankful to Him for what He’s given them, which is sad.”

You can see how this would open up a lot of conversation, and even provides a helpful framework for teaching children to share toys, et cetera.

Let me challenge you to bring this thought up to your children this week and see where it leads.

How do you fight against entitlement in your children?


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  1. Cara says:

    I love this! We have an almost 7 year old and a 2.5 year old. When my oldest started getting invited to birthday parties, I intentionally took her with me to select the present. She wanted something too but we talked about the gift of giving and I have honestly not had many problems with my kids in the toy department of any store. We even occasionally will walk through the toy dept at target to get some ideas for presents and my kids will pick things up they want and the vast majority of the time they are made to put the items back. They are so used to it that it hardly phases the big kid. I also take the opportunity when purchasing gifts to teach her about budgeting and the actual value of her dollars. I giver her a certain amount and we walk through what she can select for that much. It frustrates her sometimes but she really really needs to understand these concepts. She also really enjoys selecting things for her friends and gets a real kick out of them liking the gift. When I get buy the gifts without her she doesn’t really get excited about it. Also, I know it’s so much easier and faster for me to do it myself… less of a headache and the trip goes a lot faster, but I feel like I see so much fruit from this choice that I will never stop doing it this way or recommending it to others

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