Have we forgotten to teach gratitude to our kids?

Profound thoughts from an Eager Readers parent

Radhika Agarwal

November 14, 2018

Imagine….I found a magic lamp. I rubbed it and a genie appeared asking, “Kya hukum mere Aaka? “ (What is your wish Sire?)

I asked this question to my nine year old daughter Prisha.

She paused for a while, thought about it and said “I don’t know, what would you ask for?”

Well I laughed and said,”I know parents are your Genie, you don’t need another one. However, if I had a Genie, I would ask it to get grocery for me, Book my Doctor’s appointment, accompany me wherever I don’t want to go alone, tell him to solve all my troubles. To which she responded, “wow that’s wonderful ,wish we really had a Genie.”

We all hope we have a Genie who could fulfil all our wishes. Isn’t it? So let’s think differently. How would it be if we can become a Genie to people around us? And believe me I am one. I am a Genie to my Parents, in-laws, husband , children and friends. Anytime they need anything , I am their one stop solution, a yellow pages with additional services. If somebody is sick , which doctor needs to be consulted, their appointment and then taking them. If someone’s day is bad and they are feeling low, I would be connected to raise their energy level, the list goes on and on.

Sometime I really feel that do they realise my worth? But the thought that the first person who comes to their mind in times of need is me, gives me a soothing effect. Tomorrow I would not be so energetic, not so updated with technology, not so healthy, but if I have a Genie who can help me in everything, how grateful I would be. So let us teach our children to be our Genies. But how?

Experts say, teach children by your own example. I often wonder why could I not create Genie in my children in spite of I being one. On the contrary children today are so much entitled and ungrateful. Where is our parenting going wrong?

We have become helicopter parents nurturing skills and self esteem in children,  driving kids from activity to activity, with no gratitude from kids. The saddest part is we do not even expect our children to be grateful because we and kids both think it is our duty to do so. We are being driven by the self esteem movement. The so called new parenting techniques are feeding us with the myth that if children feel better about themselves, if parents cater to their every need, rather desire, and make them feel happy, it will help them to develop character. But what we are seeing in many cases is just the opposite. When parents organise their lives around kids, those kids expect everyone else to as well. And that leads to entitlement, and they are left feeling grateful to nothing.As parents, we do our level best to teach our kids to be grateful, hence sorry and thank you are most laboriously used words today. But what we are missing is, helping them to learn to think gratefully, not just to mindlessly say sorry or thank you.  Gratitude isn’t one off thank you, it is a mindset, a way of seeing the world.  We have to teach children to have an attitude of gratitude. Children need to learn the subtle joys of appreciating the good in their lives. We have to teach children to find gratitude in the “everyday stuff”. Thank you notes could be a great way of expressing gratitude.

Gratitude helps us to live longer, happier lives. Grateful children become more attractive and likeable, because of their warmer personality,Friendliness and thoughtfulness. Children will be more engaged at school, tend to experience fewer depressive symptoms and less aggression too. Grateful people experience daily hassles and annoyances just like everyone else, but they tend to view setbacks through a different lens, reframing challenges in a positive light.

I am of the opinion that gratitude curriculum should be part of the syllabus in schools too. In a society that has become so self focused, gratitude is a common bond and offers one of the best ways for us to connect with one another.  In today’s selfie culture , let’s start thinking about others, and start rewarding kindness and humility.  With a slight change in our approach,  we would surely be able to  rewrite a better fairy tale creating a magical world around us.

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