Who hasn't looked to the skies at least once and uttered, "You are so ungrateful"? As parents, raising children can be a minefield. Sometimes, they forget that everything we do for them isn't always a given, and that while it's our job to nurture and protect them, it's also something that they should be grateful for. It can be tricky to install these values into children when our modern lives are so full of excess and luxury, but it can be done. The last thing we want is for our kids to roll out of the homestead feeling like the world owes them one, but don't worry - brain science can help you out, and it's not as scary as it sounds.
According to Your Teen Mag, our brains are wired to compare items to other things around them. This technique is called "anchoring" and can actually be a nifty parenting technique. If your child wants the latest pair of Nikes but they cost a fortune, then show them another pair of sneakers that are similar, but much cheaper in price. If you're willing to pay for the cheaper pair, tell them that's how much you will give them and if they really want the designer version then they will have to pay for it themselves. This teaches them both compromise and responsibility - two invaluable skills that will stand them in good stead later in life.
Secondly, habit-forming can be both a negative and positive thing. For example, if you allow your child to pick out a treat every time you go grocery shopping, the chances are that they will come to automatically expect it. If, one day, you decide not to buy them anything then the chances are they'll be really annoyed. Expert Amy McCready says that it's a good idea to remind children that treats are exactly that, but it doesn't have to be a full-blown war in the cereal aisle. "You don't have to go into a big lecture," says McCready. "It can just be, 'Hey, I enjoyed that, too. It was a treat, and maybe we can do it another day."
Lastly, think about getting involved with those in need. It doesn't have to be an everyday occurrence, but perhaps go through your child's old things and ask them what they would like to donate to a homeless shelter so other children can benefit. When they've got a few things together, take them with you to donate the items so they can see the difference they're making.
As with anything, the more you practice these behaviors the more likely your child will start to appreciate the things around them.