I’m always sadden by peoples reaction to children they deem ungrateful or spoiled. It’s even worse when it comes from their own parents. I worked with a supervisor that was angry his daughter didn’t thank him for the amazing birthday gift he bought her. My question to him was why should she? This is a child that has never had to struggle or work for anything. She is only 12 and has been golfing at the county club, has an iPad, iPhone and goes to a very expensive private school. She has been taught to expect nice things. I asked him if she gives to charity, if she has had to do manual labor to earn a privilege, has she ever been told ‘NO’ when she wanted a luxury item. He shook his head and said, “I did this.” YES, YOU did. Children are born selfish. They have to be to survive. It has to be about their needs and wants because instinct dictates survival of the fittest. If they are not taught any different as they get older that selfishness becomes all they know.
To expect a child to figure out on their own what it is to be grateful for something is completely unreasonable. The pattern I see so often are these babies lavished with presents. The children couldn’t care less about the stuff; they just want and need their parent’s attention. But for parents, friends, and family members they show their love by buying every toy under the sun. At that age it’s socially acceptable for the child to have everything and want more because they cannot speak and they are just adorable. Then the child begins to take possession of the toys, they are theirs and they have a purpose of creating fun. The child then throws a fit when they don’t get what they want, crying and screaming. The frustrated and busy parent caves and buys it for them just to make the tantrum end thereby rewarding and encouraging the selfish behavior. What kind of teenager is going to be the result?
There was a video posted that showed a little boy opening a present. Inside was a cutting board. The little boy was polite and grateful to his mother for the very practical and inexpensive gift. Right after that he is given another present. Inside is an iPad his mother had spent several months saving up for. The child was surprised, began crying and thanked his mother again and again. The comments about the video ranged from, “What an amazing child” to “Children these days are so self-entitled. You would never see them this grateful for anything.” The reason it’s so rare to see a child so grateful is because we as a society are not teaching them to be. This is not an amazing child that is better than all the selfish ones. This is a child that has had to be without. This is a child that was taught manners and to appreciate what he is given.
Adults love to say, “Well, when I was younger I never had nice things, therefore, children should appreciate what they have.” Once again, my question is, why? It’s not their fault they were born into a time that is more advanced and those advances are available to them. Why should they care what you went through or what you suffered? That was your time this is theirs. This is their reality and you cannot in anyway take that away from them unless you don’t provide it to them. How can they be grateful for something they have never had to be without? They can’t. All we can do is teach them the fundamental values of giving, charity, humility, and gratefulness as it applies to today’s standards.
So when a child gets upset their iPhone isn’t the right color, or they didn’t get that car for their sweet 16, for as annoying as they are, try and see it from their point of view. And place the blame where it belongs.