None of us wants to raise bratty kids. Showing them by example how to live and behave is ultimately the best way to prevent that (that’s why I need Jesus daily), but we must also be intentional about training them and helping them develop into kind, grateful, and respectful men and women of God. When we help them to see that the world does not revolve around them, they are able to love God and others better.
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Here are 11 ways to teach your kid that the world does not revolve around them:
1. Teach them how to work and serve others —
Teach your kids to do chores, clean, and help others. Please don’t do everything for your kids. Show them how to do things for themselves. Have them help around the house. This helps our children become responsible — they need this for adulthood!
I used to clean while my daughter was sleeping… that was a big mistake! I learned, though — now I have her not only clean up her own mess but help me with the rest of the house too. She loves to help and this has also taught her to take pride in hard work. Start ‘em young!
2. Make them wait —
None of us likes waiting but (most) adults can do it without whining, complaining, and doing inappropriate things for attention. This skill is learned and we have to teach this to our kids. From waiting for a turn on the slide at the playground to waiting at the doctor’s office, we have to teach our kids to be patient and, in general, respect other people’s time. Also, we have to help them learn how to wait when we’re in the middle of something. This will help them differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s not and allow us to give them our full undivided attention.
3. Don’t let them interrupt your conversations —
Have you ever been talking with a mom and suddenly she just let her kid interrupt you and you lost your train of thought? Yeah, it’s awkward. It makes you feel like whatever you were talking about wasn’t important. Now, ask yourself, do you let your kids do that to other people? What about while you and one of your adult family members are talking? Whatever you’re already doing at home is teaching your kids whether it’s okay to interrupt the people’s conversations outside of the home.
4. Say “NO” —
This is basic, but needs to be on this list, because it encompasses the solution for many entitlement issues. One of the best parenting books I’ve read is *Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It teaches parents how to set healthy boundaries for kids, including when and how to say, “No,” without feeling guilty about it. It’s also good for teaching children to take ownership of their choices and face the benefits or consequences of them. I have mentioned before that I had a hard time creating “structure” for my daughter — this book helped me so much to be consistent in the things that really matter. I highly recommend it.
5. Spend time without them —
Go out with friends, date your spouse, make them go to bed early so that you can watch your show. Those of us who stay at home with our kids especially need to show them that our world does not revolve around them. My daughter knows that sometimes I go to Bible study, to serve at church, to work part-time, and on dates with Daddy — and that means she can’t come with me. It teaches healthy separation, but also shows her that I have a life outside of her. It also helps me to give her my best when we’re together because I’m not resenting spending all of my time with her.
6. Let them figure out how to entertain themselves —
There are so many fantastic resources for moms who don’t know what to do with their kids throughout the day. I LOVE the blogs Hands On As We Grow, and I Can Teach My Child; they are lifesavers! Being intentional with planning some activities for when you’re home with the kids can go a long way to give them quality time.
However, we may be doing ourselves and our kids a disservice when we plan so much of their lives that they don’t know what to do with boredom. Let them be imaginative and play and discover on their own. These are life skills as well!
7. Encourage them to use their talents/gifts to help others —
Do your kids like to make art? Encourage them to bless people by making artwork to give as a gift. Is your child really funny? Maybe they can put on a show for their grandparents. Do you have a math whiz in your family? They can tutor someone who is struggling with math. Also, encourage your kids to find ways to serve in church with the talents God has given them.
8. Encourage them to share and be generous —
I’m sure you can imagine that for us, this has been interesting to figure out as parents of a toddler with no siblings. Still, when she has playdates, or goes to the library, or to church, we encourage her to share. I was so proud when at a recent library visit, she received two sheets of stickers as a reward for using the potty and she gave one sheet away to a girl she had just met! We also think about ways to give to people in our community as a family. Try to make giving fun and show your child how good it feels to be generous.
9. Teach them how to respect people’s space and belongings —
My daughter is very touchy-feely. She loves to snuggle and hug and be all over the people she loves. She gives lots of kisses and has no problem being in your face and on top of you. Not everyone is a fan of that — in fact, one of her favorite friends does NOT like to be touched. So we’ve had to teach our daughter how to respect other people’s personal space. I encourage her to ask other kids if she can give them a hug before running up to them and overwhelming them, especially if they don’t know her. We’re encourage her to not take things personally when people aren’t as touchy as she is and “push” her away. I often tell her, “You can always save your hugs for mommy.”
We also have to teach our kids to respect people’s belongings. That means asking before she takes or uses something that isn’t hers or open to everyone. This also goes along with sharing — it’s not appropriate to grab something from someone else, wait your turn.
10. Teach them to express gratitude in everything —
A big part of not having an entitled attitude is being grateful. A lot of my toddler’s meltdowns happen when she doesn’t get what she wants, but oftentimes in those same moments she is not seeing what she has. For example, if she asks to read two books before bed and we only have time to read one, her initial reaction is to complain (cry and whine) about the one she won’t get to read.
In those moments, I often threaten her with, “Do you want to read no books?” Then she quickly stops complaining. My response is partially frustration, because I hate whining, but when I anticipate the complaint I’m able to say, “Well at least we can read 1 book, right? Let’s be grateful.” And every so often I hear my daughter say something similar like, “We can’t go outside today, but we can watch movies,” and I know she’s getting it. We need to teach our kids the good kind of “but” — the “at least” — to see the glass as half-full when they don’t get what they want.
11. Raise them to understand the gospel —
When our children accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, that addresses the root of all selfishness: sin. The Holy Spirit will live in them and help them to become more like Him. Teaching our kids the good news about Jesus makes their lives about Him. They will also learn how to share the gospel with others and live for Jesus every day.
Let’s commit to raising children who become adults who are selfless, generous, positive and grateful, for God’s glory. Can you think of any other ways to teach our children that the world does not revolve around them?
Hey sis! I’m Imani, the Young Moms’ Advocate and Legacy Activator, who is here to help your family prosper. Also, I’m probably dancing to Michael Jackson right now.