It is not uncommon for a parent to have experienced some cringe-worthy moments when a child shows their ungrateful attitude. An ungrateful son or daughter who just moans, “Is that all I get for my birthday?” when they open their presents or “ I never get to do what I want, unlike my lucky friends.” is something that parents fear and do not want to hear. While it is perfectly normal for kids to have their moments, it is wise to keep a check on their behaviour because lack of gratitude can be frustrating. If your child’s attitude seems to plummet, and the display of ungratefulness is permanent, then there are ways to fix it.
How to Know If Your Child Is Ungrateful
Most kids have a hard time regulating their emotions, especially when it comes to materialistic needs. Be it their demand for a new device or a bigger ice cream; their outbursts can sometimes throw you off guard. If these-less-than kind behaviours become a constant state of being, there is a larger problem in hand – a spoiled child. There are a few signs that will reveal this:
1. Your Child Cannot Hear the Word “No”
One of the best measures to determine if your child is ungrateful is to see how he copes with being denied access to something. The more kids hear “No”, the better they get at accepting reality. If kids cannot tolerate getting their way, then it is a sure sign of them being spoiled or ungrateful.
2. Disdain for Gifts They Do Not Want
Gratefully accepting a gift, even if kids do not like it or don’t want it, is something that kids need to master. If not, then the odds are they are ungrateful. An angry and hostile response could be a sign of their ungratefulness.
3. Refusal to Follow Rules
If your child throws a tantrum or has a fit when it is time to hand over the TV remote or turn off the video game, then it is a tell-all sign that he is not grateful for what he is able to enjoy.
4. Repeated Tantrums
Tantrums are an effective way for children to communicate their displeasure and dislike for anything. If your child repeatedly throws a tantrum when denied something, then it shows he is not thankful for what he has.
5. The Child Does Not Show Gratitude
Manners and politeness is key to a child’s demeanour. If your child does not thank someone for the smallest gesture or express his gratitude even when prompted, then it is an indicator that he does not know the importance of gratefulness.
Why Your Child May Seem Ungrateful
Some of the most common reason can be bought upon by parents themselves. Let us look at a few of them:
Giving the child everything he wants when he wants could create a wrong sense of entitlement. Overindulging could become an epidemic creating an unrealistic, unmerited and inappropriate expectation of living condition and treatment. In a bid to keep their child happy, parents bow down to every demand and create an excessive sense of self-importance.
2. Living In a Protected Bubble
A life that is devoid of comparisons could be hazardous for a child. If he is raised in a world where he is unaware of the happenings outside, it could create an unrealistic picture of what life actually is. It is important to get children to learn to donate their toys and be aware of how everyone is not equally privileged.
There is a connection between the sense of gratitude and reward. Kids are far likely to appreciate the worth of something they receive as a reward for their effort and would be more thankful. Studies have shown that even birthday gifts given should be linked to their behaviour and their increasing maturity levels. Children then realise that their efforts will be rewarded and are more grateful for the generosity of the giver.
4. Need for Autonomy
Sometimes children are just ungrateful as they think they need independence and autonomy to decide if they need to be thankful or not. This could be common among adolescents and teenagers who are entering into a new phase in their lives. Whatever be the age, everyone needs to be thankful for what they have. Kids or teenagers are no exception.
How to Discipline an Ungrateful Child
If you identify with any of the reasons above and find that your child is showing signs of being ungrateful, then fret no more. There are ways to deal with an ungrateful child. You could turn it around and nip it in the bud. Here are some disciplinary strategies that can help the child become more grateful:
1. Point Out
When you hear your child say or do something that shows ungratefulness, point it out. You do not have to be stern. Just be assertive and firm and remind him that he should be thankful for what he has in hand.
2. Teach Empathy
Children need to know that their words and actions affect others. Teach your child that his behaviour could have an impact on the feelings of others. Ask him to take a moment and think about how he would feel if he was spoken to like that.
3. Delayed Gratification
Kids will never get an opportunity to be grateful and thankful if their demands are catered to immediately. Delaying their rewards by a day or two will make them realise the importance of waiting. Another way to delay gratification is to link privileges to behaviour. Make sure you get your little one to understand that he will earn his screen time, play date or even his favourite toy only if he shows acceptable behaviour.
4. Foster a Nature of Gratitude
By being a good role model, you could foster a sense of gratitude in your child. Make sure you spend time with your child and teach him the importance of being grateful. Spend a few moments with him every day and get him to be thankful for what he has.
5. Develop a Sense of Generosity and Benevolence
Make kindness a habit. Get your child to accompany you when you are running an errand for an elderly member of the family or the neighbours. Get your child to involve in volunteer work. Helping others will help your little one develop a less self-centred outlook.
It is normal for kids to be egocentric at times. It is also extremely normal for them to believe that the world revolves around them. Do not let this discourage you. Remember, if you leave the ungrateful attitude unattended, then over time, it could get only worse. When you see your child acting funny, step back and think about the cause. Once you have ascertained it, chalk out a plan and implement the various strategies that you think would help change their attitude. Parenting is never easy, and it takes a lot of effort, especially in today’s age, where gadgets and materialistic needs have overtaken human values. But humanity is not a decadent value, and parents can still raise socially aware and responsible children.