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How do I teach my kids gratitude in a consumer-driven culture?
"You ungrateful brat!" Maybe you've never uttered these words to your kids, but if you're like most parents, you've probably thought them. Despite our best efforts to make our kids appreciate what they have, they still sometimes seem to be missing the gratitude gene.
The truth is, kids are naturally self-centered. Gratitude needs to be taught, modeled, reinforced, and nurtured. And it's no wonder it's tough: We live in a consumer-driven culture where every holiday has a six-month marketing lead-up, perfectly good smartphones are traded in every year, and every decent movie, TV show, game, or app becomes a multibillion-dollar franchise.
Don't give up. Here's how to create a culture of gratitude in a gimme, gimme world:
Teach media literacy -- especially around advertising. When kids see how ads try to manipulate people, they can learn to resist.
Watch out for endless "collectibles" and branded items. Your kid may love Thomas the Tank Engine, but does he need the Thomas sleeping bag, lunchbox, and sneakers? Many kids are perfectly happy -- and grateful -- for a single toy with the image of their favorite character.