Affluenza.  While many of us can only dream of having this problem, affluent parents often struggle to raise kids who appreciate what they have.  Parents want to enjoy their success, but they don’t want to raise ungrateful children.  And, in a marketing-driven culture where materialism runs rampant, even the merely middle-class sometimes wonder whether more is really better. 

Child psychologist Wendy Mogel has some suggestions to help your child cultivate “an attitude of gratitude”.

  • Shopper, heal thyself.  If your idea of a great family outing is a trip to the mall, you may be sending your kids the wrong message.  Next time, pick a museum, a park, a picnic with friends, or a walk around the block. 
  • Show your kids that you too can delay gratification. Hit the library rather than the bookstore; stress the fun you’ll have visiting grandma and grandpa rather than the shopping you’ll do on your trip.  Let them help you bake a birthday cake instead of buying one.
  • The best things in life really are free.  If you ask a child what makes them happy, it’s often the intangibles: the hour you spent with them blowing bubbles in the backyard, the trip to the ice cream shop, the walk on the beach.  These memories last longer than the latest “thing,” and they’re a bargain at any price.
  • Teach your children the difference between “need” and “want”.  Remind yourself that despite what your child says, that trendy coat from Abercrombie and Fitch is not a necessity on par with food and water.  Don’t feel guilty for teaching your kids to appreciate what they have.
  • Get your child involved in giving.  While no one expects a five year old to head up a fundraising dinner, even a toddler can help collect outgrown clothes and toys for charity.  Older kids can help decide which organization to donate to.  Kids who volunteer learn they have more than enough; make it a family tradition.