With the elder three, anything I do seems never to be good enough! Especially older two, we set up crafts, or encourage play or play with them but it's always, I'm bored, why can't you do it with me, etc. Eldest has changed more since starting school telling me everything her friends have and that she doesn't.
Sometimes I don't try as hard and it works better but then I still get the "it's so unfair" or whining
How do you make them feel grateful for what they have/do?
get tough (with the older ones of course!) At the begining say we are going to play.xxxx if anyone whines or won't wait their turn they go to their bedroom alone for 5 mins. Be very calm and adamant.
I had 2 a year apart and a dh that worked abroad much of the time and no family nearby, so when they started the whiny phase l was adamant l was not going to put up with it! And you have 4 to deal with! Same with the.. l haven't got what x has.... my response would be you are lucky enough to have parents/grandparents who love and support you, a roof over your head, food when you are hungry.a school to go too.. that is all you need...put X on your xmas/birthday list. l never ever buy my dcs any gifts outside of birthdays and xmas so they do not ask/expect it.
If they persist repeat and repeat .....they will soon get bored if it gets them nowhere.
Look at books/websites with them showing how children live in other parts of the world, get involved with them raising a bit of money for a childrens charity where kids have very little, let them see regularly how lucky they are. Compassion for others has to be tought from a young age. Often schools support childrens charities overseas, maybe yours does?
When confronted with whining I say "I don't like that whiney voice. Tell me in a normal voice and I will listen to you."
Requests for material things get met with an acknowledgement and then I deflect the request to the Christmas list (e.g. you'd like skates?! I love skates, they are so much fun, I can see why you want them. Would you like to put them on your Christmas list?). By the time Christmas comes around there's been so many requests that most of them get forgotten. I write down some of the more reasonable requests in my secret mum diary so I can remember what to shop for when the festive season comes around. The trick for silencing requests is to acknowledge their desire. In other words, do not just say no or give lots of adult reasons why their request is not going to happen. Mostly they want to feel listened to, rather than the actual material item.
Gratefulness can be taught by doing dinnertime grace. For example (and I know this sounds like we're the Brady Bunch, we're not!!!) after saying thank you God for our meal we sometimes ask the kids what they feel grateful for that day. They usually say quite sweet things like, we love our baby brother or thank you for our mummy and daddy. Quite sweet, actually.
You can also model gratefulness by expressing gratitude for the little things in your life. Often they pick up on communication styles used by their parents so try to check yourself if you find yourself complaining a lot.