How do we teach our children to be grateful?
I keep trying to teach my 7-year-old about being content with what she has and that happiness does not come from outside material items but rather from within us. But lately I feel like my messages aren’t getting through.
It seems like every time I, or someone else, give her a gift or special privilege it’s met with a response of “oh this is great, but I also want XYZ.” And I’m starting to have very limited patience with that kind of attitude.
I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how we ended up here, and I think it’s at least two-fold. I do let her watch YouTube Kids and she pretty much just watches unboxing videos and videos of other kids playing with the toys she thinks she wants. I really believe that media influences our children and certainly all of these toy videos are aimed at getting our kids to want the items so that we’ll buy them.
And the more I let her watch these kinds of videos, the more I really see a change in her behavior towards always wanting MORE, MORE, MORE.
She was obsessed with LOL dolls for a while and watched a ton of LOL videos. Each time she would receive one she would be excited for literally one second, then she would look at the little list of other LOL dolls she could have gotten (the list that comes with the doll) and she’d be wanting another one.
So here comes the other piece of the problem: me. I thought it was so cute when she got excited about opening these dolls that I would get her some when she truly had plenty to play with already. I enjoyed seeing how her face would light up and I overindulged her in her LOL obsession. But somehow I justified it in my mind because she did play with the dolls all the time.
And then one day recently, she decided she was over LOL’s and she’s now obsessed with American Girl dolls (she doesn’t have one yet).
Now those LOL’s are just sitting around. These toys that she just had to have. And I’ve more fully realized that I’m not doing a good job at truly teaching her that happiness only comes from within, and that if we connect our happiness with outside objects, like these toys she gets obsessed with, happiness will always be some fleeting thing that we think we can only get by buying, and buying some more.
I’m not sure what to do now. My mind goes straight to a place of making a new rule that she only gets new toys on her birthday and during the December holidays. But somehow that doesn’t feel like enough.
I need your help. Do you struggle with this too? Do you have any advice for me? Let me know in the comments.