We all want children who appreciate us and aren’t spoiled. I’ve written another post about setting boundaries as an essential strategy to make sure you are not taken advantage of. When you are taken advantage of, it’s because you have allowed this to happen to you by not setting your own personal boundaries. I encourage you to read more about this important topic in my post The First Step to Teaching Kids and Teens to Appreciate You. (connect this post)
Here is another common complaint that I hear from parents when they feel like they have unappreciative children.
- “I take them special places and buy them things and they act entitled as though it’s no big deal and they DESERVE it all.”
An important part of changing your negative belief about your children, such as the one above, is to first analyze what’s behind your hurt feelings. I will break this analysis into two parts.
- Ask yourself why you take your kids to special places and buy them things. There could be many reasons for this.
- What do you want your children to learn when you take them to special places?
Part 1 – Why do you take your kids to special places and buy them things? Here are some possible ideas to get you thinking.
- You never went places when you were young and you want to make sure your kids do.
- You believe that this is what parents are supposed to do. These experiences will broaden their view of life which you see as a value.
- It’s fun to buy a gift that makes your child happy. You feel good about yourself when you can provide enjoyment.
- What reasons do you have?
Each of these reasons is based on your view of what parents should do. Did you notice that they are all about you fulfilling your role as a parent? These reasons have nothing to do with what the child does.
So, when you do things based on your “obligations” then I suggest you don’t expect anything in return from your kids or teens. Do these actions from a giving part of your heart; from love and commitment to being what you consider a “good parent.”
Have I gotten you riled up? Are you thinking, ”What? My kids need to learn to appreciate someone doing things for them. They have to learn how to say thank you and make the giver feel good.
Yes, I agree with you and this is probably why you get upset when you aren’t appreciated. You think kids/teens Should Show appreciation.
So, let’s go into part 2 of the analysis.
Part 2 – What do you want your children to learn when you take them to special places?
In order to teach your children the life skills you value, it’s important for you to state them specifically and not expect them to learn them through osmosis. Maybe they will learn to say “thank you” however I wouldn’t leave it up to chance. It’s also important to not get mad at them because they don’t act as you want them to. This doesn’t help them at all.
Let’s look at ideas of what you might want your kids/teens to learn.
- To participate in the planning of a trip so they take responsibility to make it successful.
- To contribute their money to buy souvenirs so they get things they truly value.
- To teach them when to say “thank you” when things are done for them. (You could use the After—Then strategy here. “After you say “thank you” then I will…..)
I hope this helps you become more mindful of what you want your children to learn and that you are the one to teach them. If you get stuck complaining that you aren’t appreciated or they are acting entitled or spoiled, then stop and answer the questions above and make a plan for success rather than hoping for success.
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