Giving your kids everything that you didn’t have” is not always a good thing…
In my practice, I often see affluent families struggling with wanting to raise unspoiled children who are grateful and appreciative despite being wealthy, going on lavish holidays, having beautiful homes and owning the latest gadgets, toys and luxury cars.
They ask me if it is really possible and my answer is: “Yes, but you are going to have to work hard at it.” I call it intentional parenting and it takes discipline to pull it off.
So, here is my list of how to raise unspoiled kids. You need to have clarity and consistent follow-through in order to be successful, parents.
1. Say ‘no’ regularly
Practice delayed gratification and simply not always giving your children what they want, even if you can easily afford it.
2. 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.
3. Practice altruism yourself
Donate clothes and toys to those in need (not just to your neighbours when it’s easy and they have younger children!) and 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.
4. 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 support what you are trying to accomplish. Be sure the family or friends you are spending significant time with have similar values to yours; otherwise, you are going to feel defeated after a while.
At the end of the day, if you have a spoiled child – one who relentlessly nags, cries and throws a huge fit when they do not get what they want – you only have yourself to blame
5. 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 the care, time and attention to express their appreciation. This simple yet important act can go a long way towards teaching the expression of feelings and thoughtfulness.
6. 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 over-protect them from disappointments. You should really understand and believe that failing and falling is a part of successful childhood development.
7. Resist the urge to buy multiples of things
Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should! Don’t buy four dolls – buy just one and have your child love and appreciate what they have. That’s one of the keys for how to raise unspoiled kids.
8. 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 toys, treats and money.
9. 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.
10. 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.
If you come from significant wealth tell the story of how that was earned and created. If you are self-made, tell that story too – just don’t forget that “giving your kids everything that you didn’t have” is not always a good thing. There is probably a lot that you learned, by stumbling along the way, to make you the person you are today.
At the end of the day, if you have a spoiled child – one who relentlessly nags, cries and throws a huge fit when they do not get what they want – you have only yourself to blame! Stop giving in and start applying most if not all of these values and approaches.
You will have greater enjoyment in being a parent, your child will be happier and better adjusted and there will be greater peace and love in your home. And that is something money cannot buy.