DENVER — The holidays are over and kids are coming off the high of getting a lot of presents. Parents might have noticed a change in their children's behavior in the days that followed.
There are some steps that parents, grandparents and guardians can take to teach appreciative and respectful behavior to children.
Child and family therapist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler shares some tips for parents looking to raise unspoiled children:
- Say no regularly
Practice delayed gratification and simply not always giving your children what they want, even if you can easily afford it.
- Expect gratitude
Go beyond teaching your child to say please and thank you. Also teach them eye contact, a proper handshake, affection and appreciation for the kind and generous things that are said and given to them. If this does not happen, have them return the gift, either to the person or to you for safekeeping and explain that they aren't yet ready to receive such a gift.
- Practice altruism yourself
Donate clothes and toys to those in need, not just to your neighbors when it's easy and they have younger children. Have your kids be a part of that process. Do this regularly as a family and sort through, package and deliver the goods together so the kids really see where their things are going. Do this often and not just around the holidays.
- Be mindful of the company you keep
If you only hang around other affluent families who are not raising their kids with intention, you may be surrounding yourself with those who will not help out with what you are trying to accomplish. Be sure family or friends you are spending significant time with have similar values to yours. Otherwise, you are going to feel defeated after a while.
- Write thank you cards
Yes, handwritten on paper with a pen! Kids these days generally have shorter attention spans, are easily distracted and aren't taught to take careful time and attention to express their appreciation. This simple yet important act can go a long way as a skill to teach the expression of feelings and thoughtfulness.
- Don't catch every fall
Practice natural consequences from an early age. Share some of your own experiences and teach them lessons such as "life is not fair." In addition, don't overprotect them from disappointments. You have to really understand and believe that failing and falling is a part of successful childhood development.
- Resist the urge to buy multiples of things
Just because you can doesn't mean that you should! Don't buy four American Girl Dolls. Buy just one and have your child love and appreciate what they have. That's one of the keys to raising unspoiled kids.
- Talk to their grandparents and explain your intentions to them
Share with them your desires to have respectful, appreciative, kind and responsible children and the ways in which you are going to achieve that goal. You will need their help in doing this if they are like most grandparents who want to spoil their grandkids. Ask them to spoil them with love, time, affection and attention. Not with toys, treats and money.
- Teach them the value of money
Have your child manage their money through saving, giving to charity/others and then spending. If you do this from an early age you are truly setting a foundation of responsible wealth management.
- Share your story
Last but not least, you should tell your kids the legacy of your family's fortune. When I say wealth or fortune, that is all relative.
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