It’s not surprising that kids are overall less thankful than they used to be, in fact, a recent study just proved it. A study done in 2013 by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin tracked materialism in 355,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2007 and found that the desire for lots of money has increased markedly since the mid-1970s, while willingness to work hard to earn it decreased.
Among kids surveyed, 62% thought it was important to have lots of money and nice things between 2005 and 2007, while 48% had this view from 1976 to 1978—that’s a huge difference.
So, is it possible to teach your kids to be thankful for what they have and refocus them from getting to giving? Of course it is!
Here are three Cue Cards that will help:
Cue Card #1: Role model the behavior. It’s a little unrealistic to think that your kids won’t be materialistic if you are. Children pay all kinds of attention to the behavior of their parents and if they see them wanting the latest car, the fastest computer and the latest fashions, it’s a good bet that they will want the same—after all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Cue Card #2: Volunteer with your children. The Holidays are a wonderful time to start volunteering with your children because there are so many opportunities available and people in need of help. Consider baking cookies together and taking them to a local nursing home and passing them out to all the residents, or visiting a homeless shelter and helping prepare and serve Holiday meals. These are excellent, easy ways to role model giving rather than taking.
Cue Card #3: Practice gratitude every day. Being thankful is a learned behavior, therefore, it's something you can teach to your children. A very simple exercise that helps children be more thankful is practicing gratitude on a daily basis.
The next time you sit down with your children at dinner, go around the table and take turns naming one thing you are thankful for that happened during the day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a material item, in fact, it would be better if it wasn’t, because it helps children learn that there is more to be thankful for than just stuff.