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10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Not To Take Everything For Granted In An Entitled World

10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Not To Take Everything For Granted In An Entitled World

A couple weeks ago, I sat in on my daughter’s first day of school and listened to the teacher as she described the rules for her class. I snoozed through half the lecture, not needing to hear the rules about using the bathroom, raising your hand, yada yada, until she got to the last one: the cell phone rule.

Say what?

This is fourth grade.

No cell phones allowed. Leave them in the back pack, turned off. Or leave them at home. 

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Man, that got sighs and eye-rolls and (practically) tears. In fourth grade.

More than half the class has cell phones. Not just cell phones, either. These kids are packing top of the line smartphones. This is definitely a sign of the times. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those kids having phones. In fact, on the way out, I heard one classmate use a voice-to-text to tell his mom, “I’m walking home now.” I wonder, though, did he do anything to earn the phone? Or does he appreciate the phone?

Don’t get me wrong – our son has a smart phone (an iPhone, to be exact). What’s great about this is it’s our biggest piece of leverage we have with him. He loves his phone and the second we make the threat (to take it away), whatever the issue is, it’s fixed. Of course, we’ve also taken the kids to an “old-school” pay phone, one we searched high and low for, and made them call us. Our daughter almost vomited from whatever sticky mess was on the mouth piece of the phone. Thank God our son is a numbers wiz because he actually had several phone numbers memorized. They needed lessons on how to put the money in (like a candy machine) and then what to do. “You push the buttons…like a cell phone. Hello!” They couldn’t understand the concept, hence, their instantly renewed gratitude for the cell phone.

“Please, Mom,” my 13-year-old son said, “I’ll do any chore. Just never make me call from one of these again.”

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Okay, so the lesson wasn’t exactly torture (minus the three required hand washing sessions because both my kids are heart patients and therefore not equipped with the best immune systems), but it did the trick. It was one of the daily, weekly or monthly lessons in gratitude I so love to spring on them.

I will say this: I have a slight benefit in this over-entitled world. My kids were born with chronic illnesses. They’ll never have it “easy”. They’ve learned the hard way not to take things for granted. There’s times when they’ve been so sick, we worried about living. Period. There’s not a lot of BIG things we take for granted. I find, though, like normal kids in the 21st century, they tend to take some of the little things for granted. So how do I make sure this doesn’t happen?

1. Be a role model.

I work hard every day not to take things for granted. I teach gratitude by showing my own gratitude. You shouldn’t need to on the brink of death or have had something happen to realize how important people or things are in your life, or how lucky you are. If you don’t take things for granted, neither will your kids.

2. It’s always a WIP (Work In Progress).

Learning gratitude is something that never stops. You must always take the time to be grateful for what you have and the people in your life.

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3. Choose just one thing and practice.

You can’t expect entitled 21st century kids to change their spots in a day. Choose one item or one person to focus on and pick one activity to show how grateful you are for that choice. Make a list of things you like about that person. Write a thank you note for the item you received.

4. Thank your children.

Again, when you model gratitude, you’re teaching them the behavior. If they do something right or complete a task without being asked, thank them. They’re human, too. They like to be appreciated. When you appreciate them it teaches them to appreciate you.

5. Teach them about freedom.

Regardless of your political beliefs, and without spouting off your ideas about politicians, teach your children about the freedom they are awarded in this country. Remind them regularly to be grateful for that freedom. It’s a privilege.

6. Ask them to give back.

By asking them, you’re putting the ball in their court. See what ideas they come up with. Kids are more prone to commit, follow through and understand, when they come up with the ideas themselves. It can be as simple as giving flowers to a neighbor or as detailed as planning a large toy drive for a local hospital.

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7. Teach the fine art of thank you notes.

Make sure you always have thank you notes on-hand. Teach them how to write a basic, age-appropriate thank you note. Be sure to write it and send it in a timely manner. Even better, make sure you’re sending thank you notes. Yes, even as an adult. Practice what you preach. (Not e-mail or text, either.)

8. Change “entitled behavior” at that moment.

Use an entitled behavior action as a teachable moment. Turn it around. Teach your child at that moment what’s truly important. Ask them what’s important and why they deserve something. Nip it in the bud right then and there.

9. Look at the little things with new eyes.

Point out the smaller things and talk about them. Clean water. Food on the table. Clothes on your backs. Toys to play with. Friends. Smartphones! Point out the obvious and the not-so-obvious and teach your kids to be grateful for all these things.

10. Entitlement is learned. Don’t teach that subject.

Look, nobody wants spoiled brats. (Think Veruka Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.) Teaching kids not to take things for granted seems easy, but it takes a little work every single day. Make sure you wear your gratitude glasses every day because you’re kids are not only learning from your words, but from your behavior as well.

Featured photo credit: Carissa Rogers via flickr.com

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Missy Mitchell

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Published on December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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