Do you talk to your children about how lucky they are?

(23 Posts)
OrigamiOverload Mon 01-Aug-16 21:56:38

Ok, this might be coming from a bit of a negative place this evening as we've had a rough day. But it got me thinking that I should perhaps start talking to the children about all the lovely things we do with them that not all children are lucky enough to get. My DCs are only 3 and 2, so I'm not really talking about comparing their lives to children in developing countries, more stuff like getting to do lots of baking, games and crafts, dance classes, lots of lovely days out, time with grandparents and other relatives too. They also have lots of toys and a beautiful playroom.

They are not spoiled in the sense of expecting toys and sweets, and even if they ask for things the 3yo takes no very well now (I do expect tantrums from a 2yo!). But they take fun trips and for granted and today were very unimpressed with quite pleasant activities.

Perhaps this is normal and I'm expecting too much?

OreosOreosOreos Mon 01-Aug-16 22:20:52

Yes.

3yo and an almost 13 yo here. With the younger it's a breezy 'aren't we lucky that we get to do/ have x/y/z' every so often, with the older it's usually more of a reminder when he's complaining about having to do something!

I feel incredibly grateful to be in the financial situation we are now (which hasn't always been the case), and I express it in a general way to DH and the DCs quite often.

RedCrab Tue 02-Aug-16 08:15:57

Yes very much. My three year Old definitely knows about how some children don't have toys, or a family, or have had to leave where they live, and how lucky we are to have each other and our home and all our things. Last year we started a tradition of encouraging (making, lol) him select toys he doesn't play with anymore to give to children who don't have anything. Last Christmas he picked out all his Thomas trains to give to a project for disadvantaged children. Sometimes he talks about it in an altruistic way, other times it's just home negotiating to get more toys ie I want this so here mummy, I'll give this away so I can get it, yes?? I have very low expectations on his ability to understand or appreciate truly for several years yet but hopefully if we keep reinforcing it and encouraging him/ them to help, it will stick.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 02-Aug-16 08:22:36

Yes, sometimes I point out to dd how lucky she is. DH does it quite a lot, but he grew up in a poor family in a developing country, so the contrast with dd's life is particularly stark. She has seen first hand how some other kids live, so she tends not to take things for granted in any case.

I try to do this with my 4 year old as he's got to the age where he's being influenced by advertising and wants everything. I really noticed it when we returned from a lovely 2 week holiday at a 5* hotel in Cyprus and within days he was whinging that he wants to go to legoland as one of his friends had been hmm I make sure he knows that we have to work hard to pay for these things and that not everyone can do that. I don't know how much he takes in at his age but I try!

Lweji Tue 02-Aug-16 08:32:35

There is a difference between being grateful and impressed.

I agree that children shouldn't expect things and should realise they are lucky to get them.
Still, they should be allowed not to be impressed with an activity. smile

Maybe they just didn't like it or have done too much of it, or they got tired or there was something that clouded it.

Even we adults can appreciate that some people people don't get to, say, have dinner at a certain restaurant but complain that it wasn't to our liking.

Give the children a break and learn from them what made the trip less successful, instead of simply telling them how they should react.

You risk making them perform to expectation rather than just be themselves.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Tue 02-Aug-16 08:36:56

I think that you can encourage a sense of appreciation through showing it yourself rather than lecturing your children about their good fortune. Sorry if that sounds negative at all smile it's just that I have horrible memories of days out for this very reason: that no one was allowed to express a slight bit of dissatisfaction and endless lectures about how other children weren't as lucky as us, other children would be delighted to be us, and it ruins the moment a bit!

junebirthdaygirl Tue 02-Aug-16 08:46:58

Mine are grown up now. I think just reminding them to be grateful is enough as they get older. It can take the good out of the here and now to be talking about poor children and stuff. Agree that children copy what they hear so if ye are grateful and contented in your life and model that they will follow. Children pick up excitement about the little things in life from you. So l wouldn't labour it as it can be counterproductive. Also don't take it to heart if sometimes they are not bothered about what ye do as it's a long journey ahead if you let that bother you.

Bottomchops Tue 02-Aug-16 08:47:29

Yes constantly but in a natural way, from taking their old clothes and toys to the charity shop and telling them aren't they lucky to do xyz as some children don't. Some children don't have lots of food. We also say no to new toys as we "can't afford it/haven't got enough money". They know we work to earn money etc. They are both preschool, as I say, it comes up naturally.

OrigamiOverload Tue 02-Aug-16 22:57:02

What helpful responses, thank you! All thought provoking. Yes, I would like to do this naturally with the children, whilst trying to make sure I'm not banging on and sucking the joy or stifling their natural feelings. I think perhaps yesterday was a highlight for me, perhaps there isn't so much for the children to enjoy about it, so should consider that in future.

Also, I don't think DH and I have been modelling gratitude particularly well lately. DH was made redundant at Christmas and only managed to get another job in July, with a massive pay cut. It's been tough. This is something for us to work on now too, things have been hard but we are still incredibly lucky.

Thanks everyone.

WantToRunAgain Tue 02-Aug-16 23:03:06

Yes. We live in a very wealthy area and I think my DC don't really understand how bloody hard other people's lives are in comparison to ours. I was brought up in a household where money was scarce and every penny counted and it's taught me to be sensible with what we've got, but equally they don't go without and have good holidays, etc.

It's hard, but I'm involved in lots of charities and we talk about how important it is to help others, not to boast about what we have and that it's the result of hard work on our part (but, on the other hand, people who don't have as much are not lazy!).

It's hard work and I tie myself in knots sometimes but I see some of the entitled brats round here and know I need to do it.

throwingpebbles Tue 02-Aug-16 23:13:00

I think children should bye allo

throwingpebbles Tue 02-Aug-16 23:14:23

Sorry - I think children should be allowed to be human. Allowed to have an "off" day even if it is on a day out. Sometimes I. Al

throwingpebbles Tue 02-Aug-16 23:17:17

Argh. I also think there can be a risk in sorting too many activities, such that they don't have time to enjoy the mundane. We spent the day at home today, and it was blissful
I do teach gratitude and an appreciation of what we have etc but I also think we mustn't let that become a heavy burden for a child

FanDabbyFloozy Tue 02-Aug-16 23:28:34

Yes. Mine are older (juniors in primary) and they know well that they are very lucky indeed, both in terms of health and wealth.

Also when they moan about cleaning their room or that the Cleaner has misplaced something, I talk about how hard she works and how we must help her. I show gratitude towards their teachers for working hard (no teacher bashing here) and give small gifts to volunteers for activities they do.

Ultimately I am trying to teach them not to take money, people, health or experiences for granted.

I do think 2 or 3 is too young for them to really show gratitude but it will seep in!

strawberrybubblegum Wed 03-Aug-16 06:31:35

I think modelling gratitude in a joyful way is the way to go, eg 'I'm so happy we can...', pointing out kindness and thanking people, being happy and thanking the child when they do something for you. Also letting them see your concern for people, and explaining it in an age appropriate way.

But you also have to be realistic about their perspective: 2/3 yo probably won't appreciate things like dance classes and even days out, because these are things you chose for them, partly for their fun but also for your own good reasons like widening their experience, developing their character etc and so you don't have to buy yet more plastic fruit in a pretend shop.

If they show appreciation and the occasional gratitude for things they value (even if they are for things we consider unimportant or trivial) and they show care towards other people, then I think we're on the right track.

And I think politeness is another thing entirely - also important, but completely separate.

gamerwidow Wed 03-Aug-16 06:48:24

I think modelling gratitude is the way to go rather than going on about when they should be grateful and acting disappointed or angry when they don't respond in the way you want.

My mum does this and it's wearing e.g. If she buys me something she'll ask me over and over again if I like it and if I've showed my friends and what did they say etc. Then gets upset if my response isn't enthusiastic enough. In the end it makes me wish she hasn't bothered.

That's not to say I don't expect good manners and a please a thank you from my dc, just that it's ok if they don't 'love' everything they get or do.

I also help dd to 'earn' some of her treats through chores so she appreciates that you sometimes need to work and save to get things that you want.

Buddahbelly Wed 03-Aug-16 06:57:19

I've been doing this with my 4 year old too, from sorting out his toys to take to the charity shop and explaining why we're taking them there to give to children who don't have brand new toys, to just generally being lucky that we have a nice house, and he has lovely family around him who love him so much.

I was 1 of those children who didn't really get anything growing up, single mum on her own i didn't go on my 1st holiday until I was 16 , there was just no money for such things, clothes were hand me downs from my cousin.

My mum tries to make up for it now as she's in a much better financial position by constantly showering us all with gifts, including ds when she takes him out he comes back with a new toy every time... its probably her guilt that she couldn't do it when I was young, but I have to keep reminding him it doesn't work like that in our house and explaining why we need to work to buy nice things, pay bills and be able to afford the nice things he likes. He's slowly getting it but then he'll go out with my mum and im back to square 1!

strawberrybubblegum Wed 03-Aug-16 07:01:25

Actually, to clarify politeness being a separate thing: of course they're linked. But while I think politeness can come from gratitude (or at least is easier to instil then!) I don't consider insisting on politeness to be helpful in developing gratitude. It's obviously still very important for them to be polite(!) but I see it as part of understanding social norms and obligations, rather than about true gratitude.

Oblomov16 Wed 03-Aug-16 07:02:22

Yes.
But it seems to make no difference.
I find all school children these days incredibly entitled and unappreciative.
One poster said their child had seen others not so fortunate and thus appreciated. Really?
My 2 don't seem to correlate between us and others. None of their friends are worse off. And they have utter sympathy if they are studying a poor country at school, or they watch comic relief/ live-aid type programmes, but it's something they don't seem to make the connection between those children and how we live.

I have no idea how we are suppose to make this generation see how fortunate they are.

SavoyCabbage Wed 03-Aug-16 07:03:55

I watched a small act with my dc when dd2 complained about having to go to school. They were about seven and ten at the time. I talked to them about it again just last week when we saw the Spice Girls Wanna Be song on Gogglesprogs. The released one to highlight girls education.

I recommend a small act. It's an amazing film.

katemiddletonsnudeheels Wed 03-Aug-16 08:09:28

It's a bit unfair though Oblo

There are any number of adults, and it's possible I am one of them, who don't like to give too much head space to the very real suffering happening in the world. I get emails form Amnesty, who I support as a charity financially and will sign petitions, but to dwell on it, and certainly in the context of my own good fortune, upsets me pointlessly as I really can't do much beyond financial support.

Then there's also an element of what makes someone 'lucky.' I certainly had a very materially privileged childhood. My parents were older ones who had tried for years for a baby then when two came in rapid succession my dad - originally the one who had been by his own admission unconcerned about whether he had children or not - discovered he loved being a parent, my mum however did not. My memories of the time before I turned five are patchy at best but apart from some time with my dad, they aren't happy. I was largely left to play on my own or handed to relatives, who didn't really want me either. I now recognise my mum was very depressed, or possibly even even more severely mentally unwell than that, and she did love me in a way. All the same, it was a confusing message for a small child: you are lucky, lucky, lucky - yet your own world is so tiny as a little girl or boy anyway you can't really compare it in any meaningful way to another child, and the 'lucky' comments lead to misplaced guilt and pressure not to be sad or unhappy because after all, you're 'lucky.'

I think if what you (general you) ultimately want is a balanced, compassionate, sensible and kind child then that doesn't come from lecturing them about their good fortune in being the particular sperm and egg that came from loving parents and certainly not for preschoolers! I think books are a great way in here in a gradual and non-threatening way (Jacqueline Wilson are a good choice for older primary, for example) and things like getting a new family pet can be a good way to go to a rescue centre and talk honestly about why some of the animals might have ended up there, passing the food bank collection point in the supermarket, witnessing a homeless person and so on.

But there is a difference to, say, encouraging your child to choose something for the food bank when you go to Tesco and having a chat about why different people might need to use it, and lecturing them about THEIR relative good fortune in having a trolley filled with food!

DragonsEggsAreAllMine Wed 03-Aug-16 18:37:17

Mine know about third world countries and we give to a few select charities but I don't want them to feel sad that they have and others don't.

They understand that you work to have a house, food etc. I think that's enough for children.

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