I have 3 kids, and am always astonished when utter strangers tell me how polite they are. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think my kids are awesome - duh, I’m their mother. But kids are kids, and they are definitely still learning not to talk with their mouth full, not to shriek and push each other when one of them takes the toy that the other one didn’t want until the thief took it, and that mommy might completely lose it if they interrupt one more time during the one sentence I’m trying to get out. Yet I still hear, “My goodness what polite children you have!” What amazing super powers do I have, you ask? I taught my children to say thank you. Seriously, this is the common denominator behind every instance of my mom ego boosts. Admittedly, this doesn’t happen all the time, and sometimes it even happens immediately preceding one of them doing something to cause a rescinding of that statement. But every time I hear that it makes me wonder just how bad are all the other kids behave that these strangers come into contact with for an unprompted thanks from a child to be so unusual.
While Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World doesn’t directly address teaching your kids manners, it does discuss overarching themes surrounding why we are hearing kids say thank you less and less, especially as it connects to changing times and choosing gratitude. I particularly appreciated that author Kristen Welch offered practical tips at the end of each chapter, broken down by developmental stage - and she doesn’t leave out the parents. She also offered the results of a few informal surveys she took on her blog, such as what electronic devices kids own (iPod, television, cell phone, etc) and was very candid about the fact that yes, raising kids now is different than raising kids before now, and you have to be aware of the differences and how they affect entitlement. She is also quite clear that this is not easy, and you will have to watch your kids make mistakes and navigate the consequences. That part hurts, because naturally I want to protect my kids from all the ups and downs of life, but of course I can’t. One of the few suggestions I would offer is to include a chapter on special needs kids and how to approach this with kids of differing abilities and understanding. I have a special needs child, and one of the hardest parts about that is dealing with people who just assume “bad parenting” or tell me not to worry, because all kids act that way. Overall though, I loved the theme and the conversational, candid content and encourage parents to use this as a resource to swim upstream.