Do Your Kids Have A Bad Case Of The Gimmies? 3 Ways To Cure Them


"I want! I want! I want!" ... How to instill a sense of gratitude this holiday season.

Forget cold and flu season. This time of year, kids come down with a bad case of the "gimmes."

With all the new toys, new technology, and mega sales, wanting more is pretty contagious, but the "gimmes" aren't fatal.

You can help your child, and your entire family with these parenting tips that encourage a spirit of thankfulness and generosity this season. The idea is simple and easy to implement. And, best of all, it's a ritual that can rid your family of the "gimmies" all year!

Whether you start on Thanksgiving or on any random Thursday, here is an easy technique for gradually shifting your child's mindset and helps the whole family remember how blessed you really are:  

Weeks 1 & 2: Thankful Thursday

Reality check: kids just don't shift from "all about me" entitled to deeply grateful overnight. It takes awhile to really embrace gratitude on a deeper level. So start simple in weeks one and two. Pick a time of day to talk about thankfulness (during family dinner, at breakfast, at bedtime, driving to practices, etc.) and simply share two things you are each thankful for that week and discuss them.

Easy, right?

Don't criticize anyone's answers. You may hear "my Xbox" or "days without school." Those are fine. More thoughtful or sentimental answers will come in time. For now, just focus on building this new habit. Thankful Thursday's goal is simply to nudge each family toward thinking (consistently) about all they have to be grateful for. 

Weeks 3 & 4: The Haves and Have Nots

Now that the habit is taking root, change things up a bit and use your Thankful Thursday time to name two things you're each thankful for that you think others might not have.  

This will take a little more thought ... and that's the point.  

Maybe your kids never thought about other kids who don't have Xboxes. Or never realized some kids work all day in other countries and risk their lives for a chance to sit all day in school. 

What blessings does your family enjoy that others in your community do not? Expand the discussion beyond our American borders for a real eye-opener.

Weeks 5 & 6: Generosity in Action

Hopefully your kids are now actually looking forward to Thankful Thursdays. (Don't expect teens and pre-teens to ever admit this.) For the next two Thursdays, share two ideas for ways each family member could give to someone else. Let the kids toss out huge, grandiose ideas if they want. Let them dream big! Then help them find practical ways to realize that spirit of that idea in giving to others.

If your son wants to "build someone a house who doesn’t have one." Help him look into ways to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or at a shelter or the homeless. If your daughter wants to "save all the doggies who don't have a home," investigate volunteer opportunities with the Humane Society or an animal shelter in your area. You may also want to suggest giving something they already have to someone else—a game, a toy, a coat. Help them see how their generosity helps others and makes them feel good, too.

Continue the Ritual
No need to stop the Thankful Thursday ritual at the end of the holiday season. Make gratitude a natural part of your family time together throughout the new year.

How does your family count its blessings and find ways to bless others during this season? Leave a comment, we'd love to know.

Scott & Bethany Palmer are financial experts, authors, TV and radio personalities, and sought after speakers. Their mission is to help people improve their relationships through a better understanding of their approach to money. Their new book The 5 Money Conversations To Have With Your Kids At Every Age And Stage hits shelves December 30, 2014. Pre-order now and receive 3 bonus items.

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