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DH and I were having a discussion about this the other day. I work in an elementary school, and WOW have I noticed that kids are SO self-centered and selfish!! Yeah, that's a generalization, not EVERY kid is. I'm also amazed at how GENEROUS some children can be.<br><br>
I mean things like at the school I used to work at, they have reading mentors for all the kids grades 1-5, adults who give up a lunch hour once a week to come read with the children, sometimes play games, and eat with them. It is NOT in the mentor's job to bring a lunch or a treat or anything for the child, but most of them did on occasion just because well, it's fun.<br>
I heard many teachers talking about having to have talks with kids who were begging their mentors to bring them lunch or asking for birthday presents or other things.<br><br>
Or you've all seen the kid who throws a fit at their b-day party because they didn't get the big gift they wanted.....or they didn't like the sweater from Grandma, whatever. OR 'is that ALL the presents??" :p (I have a family member like that...)<br><br>
Does anyone have input on how to raise the child who appreciates the fact that an adult is taking time to spend time with them? Or the child who appreciates the thought behind the gift? Or even *gasp* understands that gifts are NOT some kind of birthright??<br><br>
My son is only 12 months old, I know this is a way-off concept. I know it's not something I can expect when he's 2 or 3...but how do you raise a child who knows this by the time they are really old enough to understand it? It's important to me that he learn this, what I am seeing overall today I find appalling and I do NOT want to raise my son to be another 'gimme' kid.<br><br>
Again I want to say I KNOW not all kids are like this...I see many who impress me with their generosity, even at 3 or 4 years old--I now work with preschoolers in an elementary school. I want to know how to raise the 'impressive' kid. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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There are a lot of children who are very selfish and self-centered around where I live... here, at least, I believe most of it comes from the fact that their parents are quite well-off (not that all families who are well-off raise children who are selfish and self-centered... just a lot around here do) and they want to give their children the "best". It seems to me that what their parents think is "best" is lots and lots of stuff and whatever the child wants when they want it.<br><br>
I do not believe one can spoil a child with time or that one can spoil an infant, but I believe that at some point getting the child everything he wants when he wants it will skew his view of the world and he will start expecting to get everything he wants when he wants it. That's just not a realistic world view for a child to grow up with though in our society which encourages instant gratification, credit cards, and mass consumption it would be hard to not have that view after being given everything one wants (as opposed to needs) right away since birth.<br><br>
Encouraging your child to give unused toys to children who have none or having him help around the house to help buy the toy he just has to have will help remind him that the world doesn't revolve around him. I'm sure there are other things too <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
I don't think that you'll have any trouble raising an impressive kid! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
love and peace. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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I sincerely believe that the best way to teach this is to model it.<br><br>
For instance:<br><br>
Don't complain about what people give you as gifts, find something nice to say about everything you are given and how thoughtful it was to be remembered, and (if appropriate) what a sacrifice it was for the person. (especially when the gifts seem cheap or inappropriate on the surface).<br><br>
Parents who demonstrate kindness in everyday life, and donate time and energy (and money) to people with humility (done because 'that is what you do', not 'see what I am doing and how great I am') show priorities with people instead of things.<br><br>
Talk about needs you see and ways people can help.<br><br>
When somebody is unkind, try and find something about them that is good, or recognize that they might just be very hurt and lashing out.<br><br>
Verbalize the inner dialoge so that your children know what you are thinking and you can use the simple times as teaching moments. (only when they are young...a teen might just think you are a lunatic if you do this. lol) Take care to do this around family and intimate settings so the child understands that it is not something to be discussed in public. (goes with the humility thing)<br><br>
I guess this can be summed up as "wear your feelings on your sleeve" around your kids, especially at home. Let them in to your inner world. Show them kindness so that they know it as a way of life.<br><br>
From a discipline standpoint, the 'be consistent' thing is the key to most of the 'gimmes'. Don't say no unless you mean it, and mean it when you say no to something. (something I will always have to work on...especially the first part...when I am tired, I have been known to say 'no' automatically to doing/buying something when it really is something that can be negotiated...but once I say no, I have to stick with it. Therefore, knowing when to say it is the key to being able to follow through appropriatly)<br><br>
wow...that got rambly. sorry.
 

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If the kids grow up with someone in their lives who always bring them a present, like grandparents, it can lead to them wondering "what did you bring me?" It might be helpful for the grandparents to give them something at the end of a visit rather than at first sight, if at all.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Jennifer Z</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I sincerely believe that the best way to teach this is to model it.<br><br>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumbsup.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbsup"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:
 

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I have some close family members who are always asking for more... There was one who had a meltdown because a pair of pajamas that had been given to her didn't fit and she had to watch as her sister wore her new pj's and wait for hers to fit later.<br><br>
That said - it was the OTHER side of the family that spoiled them, not my side. MIL gives us memberships to book clubs, and further down the road will pay for lessons, etc. My parents usually just give one gift because they know how spoiled the other two are...<br><br>
we're trying very hard also raise the non-selfish child.
 

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I think that mainstream parenting means that kids often go without what they really want and need -- closeness and feeling of being totally loved and accepted just the way they are -- and instead are given trinkets. Gradually they come to view the trinkets as signs of their own self worth, so the trinkets are very very important. The school aged kids I know who are the worst with the spoiled behavoir and the ones who are getting the least of what they really need.<br><br>
I also think that the quest for novelty is out of control. Kids are given new trinkets when they eat out, go to the dentists, etc. They get used to constantly getting something new and get ansty and feel that they are suffereing if they don't get something new. Anything -- so long as it is new and different.<br><br>
I really feel like my DH and I do a lot of things right as parents and that our kids are super, but it is an ongoing process. The other day at the zoo we passed a stand selling stuffed animals and my 7 year old asked if she could get a treat at the zoo. I smiled and told her that going to the zoo WAS a treat. We joke that we are spoiling our kids with good books and walks to the park rather than with things.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">...kids often go without what they really want and need -- closeness and feeling of being totally loved and accepted just the way they are -- and instead are given trinkets</td>
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I think this is what is at the heart of the "gimme" attitude the OP discribes. Kids that are neglected feel deprived, and no amount of toys will fill the void.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>momoffour</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think this is what is at the heart of the "gimme" attitude the OP discribes. Kids that are neglected feel deprived, and no amount of toys will fill the void.</div>
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But the filling the void with material possessions is what thier parents do too. It is what american society does. I don't think that "spoiled" kids aren't getting the love and acceptance they need from their parents. I do think they are modeling their parents' behavior and attitude toward things and towards life.<br><br>
Why it is more now than in the past - I don't know. Americans vainly attempting to fill the void inside them with material possessions isn't a new thing (1920s moderninst angst was mostly about this). Perhaps it is just the 1990s boom has accelerated and intensified it? Or maybe the child centered parenting that emerged in the late 80s allows children to really model their parents' behavior because their parents now consider giving thier kids "the best" as part of filling their own the void (baby gap outfits etc)?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Linda on the move</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think that mainstream parenting means that kids often go without what they really want and need -- closeness and feeling of being totally loved and accepted just the way they are -- and instead are given trinkets. Gradually they come to view the trinkets as signs of their own self worth, so the trinkets are very very important. The school aged kids I know who are the worst with the spoiled behavoir and the ones who are getting the least of what they really need.</div>
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But why would it emerge as such a trend now? Mainstream parenting has been around for decades (at leats since the 50s). Spock (in the 60s) actaully lessened the rules and schedules and increased the affection shown kids. Plus, parents were MUCH less accepting of their kids eccentricities in the past when our society put a higher valeu on conformaity and on strict gender norms. Mainstream parents are much more accepting of thier kids weirdnessness now because our society has a high tolerance for weirdness now.<br><br>
I think it is more than materialism has sped up coupled with the fact that we as a society (even mainstream parents) take children's wants and desires more seriously than we did in past decades (the fact that people are generally older when they become parents may feed into this). While I think taking kids' desires seriously is an imporvement, in many households, "desire" is manifested as desire for possessions (it is what the parents' channel their desires onto, so of course the kids will too). We have opened a space for children to act like adults in their attempt to fullfill their materialistic desires.
 

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I'm reading a book about this at the moment: <i>From Innocence to Entitlement: A Love and Logic Cure for the Tragedy of Entitlement</i>. It's really quite good and has some good ideas in it.<br><br>
Great thread.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Cullens_Girl</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">There was one who had a meltdown because a pair of pajamas that had been given to her didn't fit and she had to watch as her sister wore her new pj's and wait for hers to fit later.</div>
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That doesn't sound like greed or ingratitude to me. That sounds like disappointment.<br><br>
I think one of the best ways to start off raising a non-selfish child is to not buy a lot of stuff, either for yourself or your kids. Consumerism teaches us that we need stuff and that something's lacking if we don't have stuff. Our kids have a lot of stuff, unfortunately, because we get so much handed down to us from friends and family. But we don't go out and buy stuff for the kids just because, and when it is Christmas or birthday each child gets one thing from each parent. There are lots of things that I think are neat and that my kids would enjoy and that I want to buy for them, but I don't because we don't need more stuff. So far, my kids don't ask for stuff. Even at the grocery store.<br><br>
Another thing we do is that the kids' stuff doesn't belong to either of them exclusively (with the exception of some favorite stuffed animals or blankets). The stuff is mutually owned. The kids are very good about sharing their clothes, not so great about sharing toys, but I think that's a developmental stage right now.<br><br>
When Katrina happened I explained to my 3 year old that there had been a bad storm that brought lots of water that sunk some people's houses and that those people needed new clothes and toys. We went through our clothes and toys and boxed up four large boxes of stuff. My daughter only asked to keep out three things that I otherwise would have thrown in the boxes, and I thought that was pretty good. So, modeling generosity and involving your kids in it is something to do.<br><br>
We also talk about how much we have and how grateful we are to have it, and we make a point of noticing things that we like when we are shopping but then saying, "But even though it's very pretty/useful/whatever, we don't need it so we aren't going to buy it." I also don't let my kids handle things in stores that we aren't going to buy, and I think that helps cut down on the gimmes.<br><br>
Fill your kids up with experiences, not stuff, and I think that will go a long way toward curbing selfishness and the gimmes. I'm pretty certain that if I asked my daughter whether she wanted to go for a walk at the state park or get a new toy, she'd choose the walk in the park.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">The other day at the zoo we passed a stand selling stuffed animals and my 7 year old asked if she could get a treat at the zoo. I smiled and told her that going to the zoo WAS a treat.</td>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">: I remember being little and getting souveniers from everywhere, stuff that looked really cool in the gift shop but which ended up being neglected at home. I do remember, however, really really liking novelty cups from places. At Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, they had fruit drinks in novelty cups shaped like bunches of grapes or cherries or whatever. Going to WoF WAS the treat, but my parents would also buy me the fruit drinks and I would take the cups home and really cherish those. So even if you do decide to treat your kids to some stuff, it needn't be big or expensive to be thrilling.<br><br>
Namaste!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamawanabe</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">...Or maybe the child centered parenting that emerged in the late 80s allows children to really model their parents' behavior because their parents now consider giving thier kids "the best" as part of filling their own the void (baby gap outfits etc)?</div>
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I don't think "child centered" parenting is to blame here. I think most parents are not child-centered enough <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"> Kids do pick up on parental materialism though, and they are also fed a lot of garbage through the tv.<br><br>
I was thinking of this example from the OP...<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I mean things like at the school I used to work at, they have reading mentors for all the kids grades 1-5, adults who give up a lunch hour once a week to come read with the children, sometimes play games, and eat with them. It is NOT in the mentor's job to bring a lunch or a treat or anything for the child, but most of them did on occasion just because well, it's fun.<br>
I heard many teachers talking about having to have talks with kids who were begging their mentors to bring them lunch or asking for birthday presents or other things.</td>
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In my experience it is the kids that are pretty starved for attention that behave this way.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamawanabe</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But why would it emerge as such a trend now?</div>
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Because they spend BILLIONS of dollars to market "stuff" to our children. These people are talented at what they do. One thing I do (besides modeling) is talk to my children about marketing tools and tricks (LIES). Another thing I do is limit thier exposure to it (especially when they were really little). I think that helps.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>momoffour</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't think "child centered" parenting is to blame here. I think most parents are not child-centered enough <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"> Kids do pick up on parental materialism though, and they are also fed a lot of garbage through the tv.<br><br>
I was thinking of this example from the OP...<br>
In my experience it is the kids that are pretty starved for attention that behave this way.</div>
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But think of how starved kids were for attention at other histroical points in American history. Middle class kids were once indentured as apprentices at 12 (often to cruel masters - they were basically slaves for 4-7 years). During the depression, kids were shipped off to distent relatives for years (this happened to my both my grandparents - my grandmother's relative was not a loving home). Read childrearing manuels from the 30s and 40s - there is a belief was that even minimal amounts of affection could spoil the child (children were thought to be born bad and in need of correction).<br><br>
I think even mainstream partenting is MUCH better than mainstream partenting of past decades. Even in the 70s, when I was raised, kids were left alone without supervision 100X more than they are today.<br><br>
No there is some other change in society to cause this trend. Which is why I thought that maybe it is child centered- parenting (even if you don't consider mainstream parenting child centered - it IS much more child centered than it has ever been before); Perhaps becuase kids in the past were simply told 'no' because thier desires weren't considered important - now their desires are considered important so they are told 'yes'. Problem being that in aping their parents' types of desires (for stuff) we have all these little materialistic kids out there who are used to having thier materialitic desires fullfilled. The problem isn't parenting philosophies but the materialism of teh parents
 

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I think cutting down on gifts is a big way to help.<br><br>
We have an issue right now with my parents. It kind of snuck up on us. When we saw them almost every day we didn't have this issue. We moved away and they don't see dd as often as they used to and so when we visit or they visit us they hand dd a big bag of stuff they bought her. None of it is expensive but now dd expects that she will automatically get something whenever she sees them... and starts asking "what did you buy me". They created that expectation and it annoys me. She doesn't have that when we go other places or visit other relatives who don't buy her stuff. I had a conversation with my mom about not buying things or at least limit it to one thing if it is not her birthday or Christmas... that spending time with them was enough. Hopefully I got through. I know dd is not all about stuff at other times so if they back off I think it will stop.<br><br>
We limit gifts on birthday and Christmas and dd seems to appreciate them more than kids we know who get huge piles of stuff. We don't buy a lot between holidays.<br><br>
We don't buy something everytime we walk in a store. We've done plenty of window shopping. If dd says she wants something we might ask if she has money. Sometimes she does and can buy something. Or we might put it on her wish list for birthday or Christmas. And sometimes we let her pick out something small if we are getting things for ourselves.<br><br>
We don't go shopping every day or every week so dd doesn't see us spending money all the time. We don't use credit cards so dd sees us living within our means.<br><br>
We model accepting gifts graciously as pp has suggested.<br><br>
Giving your child an allowance and having them buy things they want with their own money instead of viewing you as a cash machine might help as they get older.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Linda on the move</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think that mainstream parenting means that kids often go without what they really want and need -- closeness and feeling of being totally loved and accepted just the way they are -- and instead are given trinkets.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:<br><br>
Top it off with the PARENTS being materialistic, gimme-gimme, want-want...that seems to be a given for our generation (don't take that in the wrong way, but this generation is BAD at living on credit to have MATERIALISTIC things instead of working for necessities).<br><br>
Like another PP said, they learn from example.
 

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Hmmm...interesting thoughts. DH and I have talked about this a fair amount because ds1 seems to lack a bit of gratitude lately (he is 5). We don't buy much stuff, don't have tv or expose him to too many ads, give him lots of time, model gratitude & genrousity, but sometimes.... WOW!!! can he act selfish. My fil says it is because our generation is too child-centered and my parents say they think kids have always been this way --- it is just a developmental phase. I really don't know. I see lots of really selfish and self-centered adults so there are obviously some people who don't just outgrow it, but we are sort of just hoping that with continued gentle guiding it is a behavioral phase that ds will mature beyond like he has several others, ykwim?<br><br>
BJ<br>
Barney & Ben
 

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I think some of it has to do with personality as well. My sister and I were exact opposites growing up. She was a more high spirited, selfish child, and I naturally wanted to give everyone everything. My mom laughs all the time about how she had to teach me how to stand in a line for the slide because I would let every other kid go ahead of me. It wasn't really that my parents taught either of us to be the way we are (why would they teach my sister to be selfish and me to be giving?), it was just our personalities. Over time though their parenting did come through and my sister learned to be grateful and I learned how to stand up for myself from time to time. Mabye these kids are too young still to see the effects of the parenting over their natural personalities. Kids at a young age are trying to figure out who they are and where the boundries are, so they are more likely to fight what their parents want them to do.
 

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Coming from a different pov- I think that being able to accept a gift at face value requires a level of maturity that most small children don't have. To see the love and thought that went into picking something out, or handcrafting, is an adult perspective- and yes, it's something that can be modelled. In the meantime, there is good old-fashioned manners (which don't get taught in some homes, and really really ought to) to minimize the offence caused whilst this awareness is coming into play.
 
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