It’s something that stresses parents every time they look at the toy mountain that threatens to engulf the lounge room.
Or the snake-pit of chargers that have to accompany any family outing longer than the average battery life.
How do we make our kids grow-up grateful and not spoiled, entitled br*ts? Or, you know, Donald Trump?
Well, Rebecca Sparrow has some answers. Because it’s something she worries about. A lot.
Listen to Bec tell her The Well co-host Robyn Bailey what she does to keep her kids’ eyes wide open:
Bec wonders if we are all spoiling our kids with material things because we feel guilty about not spending time with them. “When we were growing up we had a lot of time with our parents, but we didn’t have a lot of stuff.” Now, Robin thinks, we’ve inverted that.
Here are what these two smart women try to do to readdress the balance.
Teach your kids to pass along to those in need.
Bec and her daughter Ava regularly visit a site called Givitkids where children can donate their toys or clothes to another child who’s in need. For example, a child who’s in hospital might ask for Lego, or trading cards, and your child can send along some in good condition that they’re not using any more. The whole process is anonymous. “Ava and I regularly go on to the Givit kids website,” Bec says. “It’s teaching kids to look around and say, ‘I don’t play with that toy anymore…’
One afternoon a month.
Robyn says that with her three teenage boys, she plans that one afternoon a month they'll all spend doing something to help someone else. Rob says the key is to let the kids choose something that speaks to them. Most recently, her boys chose to go and volunteer with the Orange Sky Laundry, washing clothes for the homeless in a mobile van. The organisation was started by two 20 year-old Brisbane men, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett in 2014, and now operates in 13 locations around the country. "My boys felt like those guys would be a safe space and they could talk to homeless people. My kids, like their mother, can talk to anyone," says Rob. "If we want to change behaviour, we have to invest in it."
Walk the Walk
Bec quotes Danielle Miller, the author of Gratitude, a Positive New Approach To Raising Thankful Kids, who says you can't nag your kids into being grateful for all that they have. You've got to model it. If you show them that working to improve your community is important, they will learn by example.
"I say to Ava that I have redefined what success means for myself," says Bec. "It's not going to be about book sales or reviews, or how much money I've made, it's about was I significant in my community?"
See, not a gratitude journal in sight.
You can listen to the full episode of The Well, here: