Entitled to Be Thankful

By Janna Jones
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
One way to keep kids from feeling entitled is to encourage gratitude as your children's first response.

When my son wanted a banjo that he’d spotted in a music store, I had visions of him as a rockin’ banjo star. The banjo was just his size, and I couldn’t help but imagine his smiling face on Christmas morning when he awoke to find it waiting for him. But all thoughts of giving it to him fled with his demand: “It costs $250, and I really need it!”

I realized in that moment how quickly a simple request can turn into a false sense of entitlement. There are so many wonderful things our kids desire — and we want to give — but the answer can’t be yes every time. Instead of permitting an attitude of “I need it, I deserve it,” I help my kids develop an attitude of “I’m so thankful.”

Water walk
One effective way to encourage my tweens to count their blessings is to let them experience a day without some of the luxuries they’re accustomed to. In North America, we use up to a gallon of water just to brush our teeth. And a 5-minute shower uses about 10 gallons. But in developing countries, the average person uses 5 gallons or less per day. As a reminder to be thankful for our clean, available water, my family occasionally takes a “water walk.” Each person gets a jug or bucket. We walk to our outdoor faucet and fill up, then carry the buckets back to the house and only use the water we can haul to the house that day. If someone needs additional water, he must return to the outdoor faucet. Paying attention to how we use this precious resource has made my kids more grateful for it.

Rice and beans
My kids love food. All kinds of food. My husband and I taught our children to eat their fruits and veggies, but we also want to teach them that food costs a lot, and not everyone has the luxury of variety and choice. So periodically we serve only rice and beans for dinner. After that, my kids have a renewed appreciation for the juicy oranges and tasty strawberries they are blessed to have.

Count it out
My daughter isn’t really into stuff, but she can’t get enough of experiences and adventures with her friends. So when she gets upset if the concert tickets aren’t bought, or the beach vacation isn’t taken, or the race isn’t entered — it’s time to count. I ask her to stop talking about the event she wants to participate in and count out three things she’s done recently that she’s thankful for. It’s amazing how the reminder of the fun experiences she’s already had encourages gratitude and patience as she waits on the next great thing.

Wait and work
Most tweens want instant gratification. And it’s easy as parents to get caught up in the fun and excitement of blessing our kids. But I’ve found there’s nothing like hard work to help my family see and appreciate the value of something. Last summer, my kids spent hours helping my husband and me with landscaping tasks (and later nursing a few blisters) to earn money for the LEGO sets they wanted.

And while it’s going to take a lot more window washing and garage sweeping before my son earns a banjo, when he does, the smile on his face is going to be a sweet sight to see.

Copyright © 2013 by Janna Jones. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.