Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teaching Gratitude

My three year old has totally lost her ability for gratitude...I don't know if it's my own inconsistancy or my own lack of patience that has led her to these poor habits, but something must change. Here is what I've been hearing...frequently.

After a trip to the mall where they host this amazing playdate event (complete with crafts, music, snack all for the price of FREE), and I provided Kaelyn with a pretezel, a trip to EVERY fountain, extended her stay even though Anna was desperate for sleep, and let her look at the Easter Bunny display TWICE despite it being on the way out, I refused to let her "break into" the display to see where THE bunny sat...I evidently set off one of her "negativity" moods. I spent the next thirty minutes on the drive home listening to Kaelyn complain how I made her and Anna mad, didn't listen to them, didn't let her do this, didn't do that, ONLY let her look at the display twice...which isn't a lot, just so you know...and you now get the idea...except magnify it and extend it for THIRTY WHOLE MINUTES. Needless to say, by the time the garage door went up my patience disappeared...and I started to lecture...about how lucky she is to have food/toys/a mom who can take her to cool things/etc and how this complaining made her sound like an ungrateful brat. Yep, I said it, and No, I'm not proud of it...but 30 mins!

So, in an attempt to combat this behavior...which I REFUSE to let her develop...I'm starting a few rules...and if you have ANY suggestions please let me know them!

~ You can complain about an event/situation once...just once. Then we will find 3 positives together.

~ At bedtime and a meals we will all say one thing that we are thankful for (we tried it tonight and it spiralled into Kaelyn talking about how mad she was with mom, baby steps people).

~ We might end up making a list of things that she doesn't like and list the things we are thankful for to SHOW her.

~In addition, we are going to start saying THANK YOU for little things, the things you wouldn't normally expect thanks for.

How do you teach gratitude?


Kim said...

I like your ideas! And I totally hear you - Crumpet thinks everything is boring, there's nothing fun to do in Georgia, and all of his 10 billion toys are old. And did I say boring? We try to talk about the good things that happen each day, and come up with things we are thankful for too. I think a lot of it will get better with time, when they realize they are not the center of the universe (after they have their own kids, i suppose!).

Cate said...

I like your ideas, too! I don't have this issue yet (my daughter's 9 months old and can't talk!) but it's definitely something to think about. I admit it--I'm a complainer--so I might need to reexamine my own lack of gratitude first.

Christy said...

I just found your blog through Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland. I'm so happy I found you because I was just talking to a friend about teaching my children to be grateful. I have been at a loss, and my children are older than your girls so I have been struggling with this for years! I love your ideas. Thanks. Just what I need!

Brandie said...

Thanks guys. We just started "using them" and while there hasn't been any indication that they are going to work (she's three so changes are VERY slow!) I'll let you know!

If my girls were older, we'd be volunteering at shelters and things...but I don't think she's ready for that yet.

Leslie said...

Right now, T's young enough that we're just still on reinforcing "please" and "thank you" with everything we can. We're also working on "Mommy help" instead of "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" and busing into tears. We get it sometimes. :) haha!

You said she's too young for shelters, and that's probably right, but you could still help her "volunteer" by letting her help you sort the recycling and explaining to her why we do it. Help her give away some of her toys once or twice a year. As an example, my mom would make us narrow our dolls/stuffed animals down to 10 (you pick whatever number you like) twice a year adn everything else we took to someone who would give them to needy children. Then she explained how some children don't have ONE doll to play with, much less 20 or 30. SMALL amounts of volunteering and doing for others are possible at 3, since she's old enough to at least understand the basics of WHY we do for others. Just a thought.

Hope your new rules help. (I like the complain once and then find 3 positives thing.)