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8 Ways To Raise Grateful Kids

Help kids develop an attitude of gratitude so that they will grow up to be happier, more positive, and more content with their lives.

As 2020 comes to an end, it’s time to start thinking about our goals and intentions for 2021 — not just for ourselves but also for our family. One resolution in particular that we would like to suggest — teach kids to be more grateful and less entitled. 

“Children become entitled when they always get what they ask for, when parents say ‘yes’ more than they say ‘no,’” says Maribel Dionisio, a parenting and relationship expert, author, and founder of the Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them. “When children are raised with everything handed to them, they grow up to become demanding, high-maintenance adults who are not equipped to handle life when things don’t go their way,” she adds.  

On the other hand, when children learn to be appreciative, responsible, and not take things for granted, they have better relationships with other people, can empathize more, are easier to please, and become generally happier in their later years. 

Below are some ways you can reinforce the importance of gratitude:

  1. Be mindful of your words and actions. You may be feeling proud that you are not entitling your children because you do not buy them every toy that they ask for; but an entitlement mentality can be shaped in other ways, some of which you may not even be aware of, such as: 
    • Attributing other people’s actions to their character and not because of outside forces. When your kids complain that someone took the last cookie without asking, don’t immediately say “Yes, he’s a bad boy, don’t be like him.” This teaches children to be judgemental and quickly blame others for their misfortunes.

      A better way to manage such situations would be to ask your children to think about what the other person may be going through or how they might be feeling, i.e. “Maybe he took the cookie because he didn’t get to eat lunch and is really hungry.” This act of empathizing makes kids stop immediately seeing others as bad, and makes them more grateful for their circumstances (i.e. at least they are not THAT hungry).
    • Overprotecting and overpraising them. The first will make them dependent on you, the second will make them feel that they can do no wrong. 
    • Jumping through hoops to make sure their path to success is paved for them, so they never have to work hard to get what they want. 

2. Set a good example. Kids learn a lot from watching their parents. So model gratitude every chance you get, such as offering a sincere “Thank you” to the person who delivers your packages or making it a point to share little things that you are grateful for during casual conversations. 

3. Be encouraging and positive. “When you catch your children doing good or beyond what is expected, praise them for it; don’t always focus on the things they did not do,” says Maribel. For example, if your toddler packed away four out of his seven toys, don’t scold him for not doing a perfect job; instead, tell him thank you for doing that, then remind or offer to help him pack the remaining items away. This reinforces the positive behavior and lets them know that what they do (no matter how small) is appreciated. 

4. Put things in perspective. Talk to your kids about those who are less fortunate, like the owner of their favorite restaurant who had to close shop because of the pandemic, or the people who lost their homes because of natural disasters. Understanding that not everyone has the same advantages will help them develop compassion for others and gratitude for their own privileges.

5. Let them do chores. Part of feeling gratitude is being aware of the effort someone else went through to give us something. One way to let your child experience this effort is to involve them in household tasks, such as making the bed, folding the laundry, or helping prepare meals.  “Chores reduce entitlement because it helps children see the value of work,” Maribel points out. “In addition, children learn to be responsible, feel more confident, discover their strengths, and see the value in their work.” 

6. Show them how to find the money. It can be hard for children to understand why they can’t just buy everything they want if they have never paid for anything. “Give your children opportunities to manage money, whether it’s giving them an allowance, helping them start their own business, or even paying them for doing extra chores,” says Mariblel. “When they see the time and effort it takes to be able to buy a new item of clothing or new gadget, they won’t feel entitled about money.”

7. Establish boundaries. “Do not let your children get away with everything,” Maribel instructs. “Have rules, and explain the importance of these rules so that your children cooperate. And if they deviate from rules, counter with logical and natural consequences, not with screaming, shouting, or spanking because these will only make them resent you.”

8. Cultivate a good relationship with your child. All of the above tips require you to be able to talk to your children openly, honestly, and without judgement. To achieve this, Maribel suggests the following ways:

  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 
  • Set aside one-on-one time for each child, at least 20 minutes a day. Make the conversation light and easy-going so that he or she opens up to you about what’s on their minds, and you in turn can share stories that impart the values of empathy, gratitude, and kindness. 

The only way children will learn gratitude (along with other positive values) is by having a relationship with them that is open, honest, and managed by boundaries. “When we do away with limitations and give our children everything they want because we want their lives to be easy, it is OUR lives that become complicated,” says Maribel. “On the other hand, when children feel loved, respected, and secure, they will not misbehave or feel entitled. They will want to return those loving feelings to you, absorb the values you impart,  and do everything to make you happy.”

If your children are struggling with strong emotions or if you need advice on how to manage their wellbeing and happiness, feel free to drop us a line on our FB Messenger chat helpline. We are open 24/7 and the service is free, secure, and confidential. 

For more information about the Love Institute, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/theloveinstituteph/

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Self Help

Note To Self: I am Enough

Psychologists describe self-esteem as a person’s overall sense of worth or value. It is a measure of how much you appreciate and like yourself, including how you look and what you believe about yourself (“I am loved” vs. “I am worthless”).

Your self-esteem can affect whether you:

  • Like and value yourself as a person
  • Are able to make decisions and assert yourself
  • Recognize your strengths and positive traits about yourself
  • Feel and able to try new and difficult things
  • Show kindness towards yourself
  • Move on from past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
  • Take the time you need for yourself
  • Believe that you matter and are good enough
  • Believe that you deserve happiness
Self-esteem and Mental Health

Having low self-esteem isn’t a mental health problem in itself, but the two are closely linked. If many things affect your self-esteem for a prolonged period of time (such as being bullied or abused, losing your job, relationship problems, poor body image, etc.) then it might lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

If you are starting to look down on yourself because of circumstances around you, here are some ways you can overcome that feeling and improve your self-esteem:

1. Practice self-compassion

Whenever you feel like you are not able to meet the expectations you have for yourself, please don’t beat yourself up. Learn to be gentle with yourself by learning self-forgiveness, and recognize that you are only human.

Read more about our blog post on practicing self-compassion here

2. Take care of your physical health.

Poor sleep and eating habits, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and using recreational drugs — all of these can you make you look and feel bad.

3. Spend time outdoors.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help with mental problems like anxiety and depression; if combined with physical activities like hiking or walking, it can make you feel good about what your body can do and turn the focus away from what your body should look like. Furthermore, because most outdoor activities involve groups of people, you also improve social interactions and gain a support group that you can turn to whenever you need a self-esteem boost.

However, with the extended lockdowns, going out may not be the best option right now. Hence, you can bring the outdoors to the indoors by cultivating a green space in your home.

4. Appreciate the good.

Always celebrate your successes and wins, no matter how small they are. Accept compliments graciously instead of acting self-deprecating. If anyone says something malicious or unkind, don’t focus on it even if it’s difficult to do most of the time.

5. Learn to say “NO.”

Set your limits and be firm. Frequently doing things that you don’t want to do to please other people can drain your energy and even crush your spirit.

6. Find a hobby that you enjoy.

Whether it’s baking or mountain biking, do it often to the point that you become quite good at it. When you learn something new or find ways to improve yourself, you will feel better.

7. Try volunteering.

Spend time helping out your favorite cause. Doing good for others and the community gives you a natural sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

8. Talk to someone.

If you are going through a tough time, turn to friends and family for comfort, support, or advice. If you need the assistance of a mental health professional, there are a lot of mental health organizations online that you can consult.

MINDNATION IS HERE

Do you need someone to speak to? Feel free to message our Facebook Page for 24/7 Social Conversations with friends that are available for you anytime. We’re here to listen! It’s completely free and absolutely confidential. http://facebook.com/themindnation

Written by Jacq of Mindnation

Categories
Featured Self Help

Note To Self: Knowing Myself

More often than not, we go through our lives on autopilot, with little awareness that we are brushing our teeth, putting on your shoes, or sometimes even eating. While there is nothing really wrong with being unmindful of these little actions, the danger arises when we do not pay attention to our more significant behaviors, like how we talk to others, how we deal with problems, or what we do when we are sad or mad. When these mindless actions and behaviors occur too often, they can become habits, and if the habits are bad, they can affect our mental well-being, the way we relate to others, and how we go about our daily lives. . 

Cultivating self-awareness means becoming conscious of these behaviors and habits so that we have more control over our emotional responses, especially the ones that might not be so healthy. 

Self-awareness and mental health

When you develop self-awareness, you can begin to see where your thoughts and emotions guide you and take steps to change the unfavorable ones. When you are aware of your emotions you begin to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ), which is an important factor in achieving overall success. 

Specific benefits of practicing self-awareness include:

  • It can make us more proactive in improving our behavior, leading to positive self-development 
  • It allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practice self-control, work creatively and productively, and experience pride in ourselves and our work as well as general self-esteem 
  • It leads to better decision-making 
  • It can make us better at our jobs, better communicators in the workplace, and enhance our self-confidence and overall well-being
How to become more self-aware

Here are some things you can do to achieve greater self-awareness:

1. Look at yourself objectively.

Trying to see yourself as you really are can be a very difficult process, but once you do, you can learn how to accept yourself and find ways to improve.

  • Write down what you think of yourself – Ask questions like what are you good at, and what do you need to improve? Be objective, do not compare yourself with others. What are the accomplishments or things about yourself that you are proud of? 
  • Go back to your childhood – What made you happy back then? Is it still the same now? If there are changes, what are the reasons? 
  • Talk to close friends and family members – Ask them how they feel about you. 

When you are finished with the above-mentioned exercises, you already have gained a better understanding of yourself.

2. Practice mindfulness through meditation.

Meditation helps you manage your thoughts and feelings calmly, without judgement. 

3. Perform daily self-reflection. 

Set aside at least 15 minutes of each day to go through the day’s events, paying closer attention to what you felt and thought during those certain moments, both good and bad. Doing this will help you become more in tune with your thoughts and put yourself on a path to greater self-awareness.

4. Listen.

Try to be a better listener for friends, family, and colleagues. This means being fully present and paying attention to their words, emotions, and even body language, without making judgments or drifting off. When you lend an ear to others, you’ll also become a better listener to your own inner voice.

5. Use fun tools for self-discovery.

Taking tests like the Myers-Briggs Type (MBTI) Indicator and the Predictive Index can help you understand what traits and characteristics you have so that you can understand yourself better.

6. Ask help from those close to you.

The thing with bad habits is sometimes you are not aware that you are doing it. So if there is a habit or behavior that you want to change, tell your frequent companions to call you out if you are doing it. For example, if you would like to stop cursing whenever you are feeling frustrated, ask your friend to discreetly let you know when it is happening, so you can stop.

Remember, increasing self-awareness does take time. It can take years and may require input from many people around you. Always try to respond to reflections and feedback with an open mind, so that you can find ways to utilize your strengths, feelings, emotions, and improve on your bad habits and weaknesses. 

Written by Jacq of Mindnation