By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
Are your kids spoiled or entitled this holiday season? If you'd have asked me last week, I would have answered no. That was before my 4th grader handed me a three-page Christmas wish list. Front and back. When I asked him to circle his top three favorites, he gave me a look that can only be described as Kardashian-esque and replied tartly, "Consider them all circled."
Handing the papers back to him, I smiled. "At least you got lots of good handwriting practice out of this!" To which my husband added dryly, "And that's all you're going to be getting out of this."
My husband and I work really hard year-round to instill gratitude and a spirit of service in our four children, but it seems like every year the holiday season conspires against us. Our best intentions are beat down by toy catalogs and school friends. I felt relieved when a Parenting.com survey showed that 76 percent of moms feel like their kids get spoiled during this time of year. (Although the same survey also showed that 25 percent of moms would "do whatever it takes", including wrestling other parents, to get their child the hot toy, so maybe it's not just the kids who are entitled?)
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What's a mom to do? Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, did a great interview with the Today show about grounding the gimmes. Her advice included no-nonsense tips like not focusing on Santa, turning off the TV, and helping kids write thank-you cards. But I inadvertently stumbled upon something else that worked for my kids: stomach flu.
Last week Norovirus ripped through our house like a frat boy post-keg party, with everyone young and old upchucking. I'm not going to lie: It was a nightmare and now all I want for Christmas is a Haz-Mat suit. But the one bright spot was when my feverish son looked up at me and said, "I'm really lucky I have a warm house, a dry bed and a nice mom." Another son answered, "I want to be a scientist because I never want any other kid to feel this bad." And the third son summed it up with, "Thank you for my everything."
I'm not saying you and your family should go lick restroom doorknobs to get in the spirit of the season, but there is something to be said for looking for those small teachable moments when they come. After all, nothing makes you more grateful for your dinner than losing it.
What do you do this time of year to keep your kids from acting spoiled?
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