Parenting Resource: How To Raise Thankful KidsNovember 27, 2013
Parenting Resource: How To Raise Thankful Kids
As our nation spends tomorrow reflecting on all for which we are thankful, this article in Slate caught our attention. How To Raise Thankful Kids answers its own question within the sub-headline: It’s gonna take a lot of work. The author highlights a dilemma that may be familiar to you:
My husband and I are incredibly lucky to be able to give our son what he needs and often what he wants, and we are raising him in a wonderful town in which many families do the same. Yet he’s growing up in a bubble, and that terrifies me. If he never truly struggles for things—important things—and he doesn’t spend much time with people who do, will he ever realize he’s got it so good? And will he ever want to do anything to make the world better?
As so many of us strive to provide our children with every advantage for their future, research is now suggesting that kids who are overindulged are more likely to grow into adults who are obsessed with the pursuits of acquiring status and possessions, who are less skilled in their careers, and who lack both emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills. “They could basically give two hoots about contributing to the community, working for a better society, or helping others without anything in return,” explains David Bredehoft, a professor of psychology emeritus at Concordia University in Minnesota, who has spent more than a decade studying overindulgence and is the co-author of the upcoming How Much Is Too Much? If that’s not scary enough, these studies are also finding that “ungrateful kids are unhappier and less academically successful than their more thankful peers, and, unsurprisingly, they have fewer friends, too.”
Raising “thankful” kids involves is a complex undertaking, but this article contains several relevant observations. Our favorite, from Psychologist Carol Dweck:
“There’s a final way that parents may overindulge their kids: they make their kids feel entitled by how they speak of them. When kids think, ‘I’m great, I’m special, things are coming to me because of my wonderfulness and specialness,’ there’s no gratitude there. So the parents who are always telling their kids how brilliant they are and how much better than other kids they are, who go and fight with coaches and teachers who give them any criticism, they’re telling their kids, ‘you have everything coming to you by virtue of who you are.’ ”
There’s a lot to this article, including a 4-part questionnaire for assessing if you are overindulging your child. Research suggests that if you answer yes to one or more of these questions than you might be fostering unintended and undesirable traits in your child. Thankfully, this article also suggests affirmative techniques for helping to raise a thankful, empathetic, emotionally intelligent young person. This is an article worth checking out!