Raising Appreciative Kids

December 8, 2010 Theresa Fung

The holidays are the perfect time to instill a sense of appreciation in your kids for the blessings they have in life. I was out shopping recently for gifts, and ran into some friends who were having a hard time finding a gift for a particularly spoiled niece. This particular young teenage girl they were grumbling about had all the latest gadgets, $200 jeans, and her own horse. Now what on earth could they get her (that wouldn’t break their wallets) that she didn’t already have?

helpinghands - The Unlocked LifeMy friend vented that they were just going to end up spending money on something this girl wouldn’t appreciate. Having a spoiled and ungrateful gift recipient definitely zaps the fun out of gift giving. It made me wonder where this girl’s parents went wrong. After all, babies aren’t born spoiled; somewhere along the way, this once sweet little girl developed a sense of entitlement, and was probably not taught the value of money or how to be accountable for spending. She essentially turned into every marketer’s dream — a rabid consumer.

The last thing I want is for someone to ever think that my daughter is spoiled and unappreciative, so I’ve thought of a few things parents can do to help their children appreciate every gift they receive in life – big or small.

  • Write thank you cards together. Start your kids early so it becomes second-nature. What could be sweeter than a homemade card with a child’s messy handwriting scrawled on it with a heartfelt message?
  • Enforce a toy limit on the amount of toys your child is allowed to keep. Many kids have a collection of toys, but only a few favorite ones they actually play with. The holidays are a good time to ask your child to donate a few unwanted toys to a less fortunate child and tidy up her room at the same time.
  • Volunteer together. There are so many charities and non-profits that could use a helping hand year-round, but especially at Christmas time. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen to serve turkey dinner to the homeless, drop off gifts to less fortunate families, wrap gifts — there is a cause to suit everyone’s interests and capabilities.
  • Donate a gift in your child’s name. Some examples include Plan’s Gifts of Hope which allows you to purchase items to be used in third world countries such as goats and other animals, mango trees, water, books, and baby supplies. Free the Children, World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam and UNICEF are always good options. A gift like this to your child starts a meaningful dialogue (much more so than say another toy or gadget) about the importance of reaching out and helping others.
  • Work for big-ticket items or expensive clothing. I guess I’m pretty old-fashioned when it comes to beliefs about parenting – I believe in giving lots of love and attention but providing just the bare necessities. This includes food, shelter, and functional clothes that are not brand name. If your daughter wanted a pair of $200 jeans or an expensive laptop, a good plan would be to have her either save and chip in a portion of the money, or do chores around the house to pay for the item. The item she has been longing for will be that much more appreciated if there was some work required to earn it.
  • Hold them accountable for their own money and actions. Teach your child to save a portion of her allowance and not spend it all at once. If she has a cell phone, make her responsible for the bill by asking her to pay for all or a portion of it. If your daughter racks up a large phone bill due to excessive texting/chatting/surfing, she should pay for the overage. I am surprised when I hear of parents footing the entire bill at any cost.

If my friends still haven’t found a gift yet for their pampered family member, I’ll suggest they make a donation to a charity in her name. At the very least, the gift will stand out from the rest of her pile of unwanted toys, gadgets, and clothes.

APA Reference
Fung, T. (2010, December 8). Raising Appreciative Kids, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Theresa Fung

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