Teaching the Virtues: Thankfulness
The Gratitude Attitude
By Mary Dixon LeBeau
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The whole concept seems basic enough: it’s important to be grateful for the things done for you or given to you. It is equally as important to show your appreciation with an acknowledgment.
So where do we, as a society, go wrong? Why do our children embrace entitlement, thinking that they should automatically be handed everything without thought or any appreciation at all? If we want to place blame, we should start by pointing at the man – or the mom – in the mirror. Children must be taught certain behaviors and
Additionally, “parents have become so competitive. We bought into this culture of ‘must haves’ and we don’t want to disappoint our children,” says Susan Newman, PhD, social psychologist and author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day.
“We [as parents] want to make sure they have everything their friends have, which leads us to buy into every possible gizmo and gadget. That’s where we go wrong,” Newman says. And by providing our children with their every heart’s desire (and then some), we have failed to provide them the proper attitude in which things should be received. Instead of appreciating what they have, our children (of all ages) want – and expect -- the latest iPods, an American Girl doll with a full wardrobe, and even cell phones. “We’re a society entrenched in commercialism,” Newman adds.
Then add to the mix the speed at which we all travel in pursuit of the “best life” and the best opportunities. “Everyone’s trying to raise a star child, and that has led us to this treadmill pace that leaves no time for the niceties and the social graces that were an integral part of society years ago,” Newman adds.
But let’s face it – not all of our children will be “stars.” In the long run, we should forget the laptops and cell phones and instead equip our children with the attitudes that will benefit them for a lifetime – and that includes gratitude.“Giving your child a sense of gratitude means she will be happier, healthier, and stronger now, and in the future,” says Doris Jeanette, Psy. D., from the Center of New Psychology in Philadelphia, adding that the best way to do this is to model the attitude yourself.