Raising contented children in a consumer driven world is a challenge for any parent. Here are 5 powerful strategies to help you raise contented children.
“There has been little in my life that has made as much an impact as learning to be content — with my life, where I am, what I’m doing, what I have, who I’m with, who I am.” Leo Babauta
Can you imagine what your family life would be like if everyone was happy with what they had in the moment? Where no one was wishing for something else? It sounds wonderful to me.
In our consumer driven culture cultivating contentment can be hard at times. Still I have discovered it is possible and I believe you can encourage this quality in your children. I would like to suggest five simple ways to help you nurture a culture of contentment in your family.
5 strategies to for raising contented children.
1. It starts with you.
Children do as they see, not as they’re told. If your children see that you are content with what you have, then they probably will be too.
I did not grow up in a home where there was a lot of money, but strangely enough I didn’t realize that until I was an adult! I never went without. I’m sure that my parents struggled with feelings of discontentment from time to time, but for the most part they were grateful for what they had. As a consequence it never occurred to me that we needed anything else.
Let your children see you practicing the quality of contentment. It is a powerful example. What to know more? Here’s a helpful article about finding peace and contentment from Tiny Buddha.
2. Practice gratitude
Gratitude has a way of cultivating contentment, because it encourages us to notice all the good things in our life. It helps us look at things in a positive light. I have discovered that it is really hard to be discontent when we are practicing genuine gratitude.
“It is impossible to develop contentment without gratitude – they are inseparable.” Joshua Becker
One of the most important things you can do is to offer gratitude in a variety of forms when your kids are within earshot. Give thanks for the material blessing you enjoy, for the beauty of the nature, and for the things in your life that bring you joy. Be sure to express gratitude for your family as well. Do this often!
2.Creating a gratitude ritual
Creating a simple gratitude ritual will encourage an environment of love and appreciation in your family. It encourages family members to look for the blessings they enjoy and helps them learn how to express their gratitude. A ritual doesn’t have to be complicated. Try these ideas
- Have each member mention the thing they are grateful for at the dinner table.
- Name daily blessings as part of your prayers.
- Keep a family gratitude journal and update it daily/weekly.
3. Make a point of helping others
Generally speaking families who help others begin to realize how little others have and how much they have to give. Your help could be monetary, such as making a Kiva loan or donating to your favorite charity.
Don’t forget that giving time and energy also has a huge impact. Look for ways your family can interact directly with the people they’re helping. As your children share their talents and time they will develop a greater appreciation for what they have and for what they can offer. For inspiration check out my Acts of Kindness posts.
4. Limit Your Family’s Exposure to Commercials.
Every year manufacturers spend billions of dollars on advertising. Their aim is to nurture your feelings of discontent and persuade you that their product can make you happy…. for a small price. It’s all nonsense of course. Stuff never equals happiness. Yet somehow these advertisements convince thousands of people to part with their hard earned cash for things they really don’t need.
Corporations are targeting your family and their weapons of choice are commercials. Advertising agencies compete for the opportunity to nurture discontent and promote desire in your family.
The scary thing is that they are really good at it. So the solution is simple. Cut off the advertising! Here are a couple of suggestions
- Download and install Adblock Plus. This handy little app blocks advertisements on websites, Facebook, and even Youtube and it works really well. I love it!
- Unplug from cable television. That doesn’t mean you have to go without any television. We have been unplugged from cable for several years now, but we subscribe to Netflix and borrow DVD’s from the library instead. Be aware that many DVDs now contain commercials.
- If you really don’t want to unplug that cable try muting the television during the commercials, or record the shows and fast forward through those annoying commercial breaks.
- Subscribe to children’s magazines that have little or no advertising.
- Contact your mail carrier and make arrangements to stop the delivery of flyers.
Try limiting your family’s exposure to commercials for one month and see what happens. You may be surprised at the impact this one action will have.
5. Help your kids avoid the comparison game
This is a really tough one, particularly if you have teens that live on social media. The trouble with social media is that it encourages us to play the comparison game. When friends post pictures of their latest purchase, or amazing social life, and get a ton of likes it sends a subtle message. In order to be somebody you need to have these things too.
“Comparing your life with someone else’s will always lead to discontentment. There will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly living the perfect life. But be advised, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. Their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.” Joshua Becker
Start talking about some of these issues with your children.
- Have some discussions about the dangers of comparing our lives with others.
- Talk about the concept of happiness and the dangers of “when and then” thinking. When I get X then I will be happy.
- Share some of the struggles you have in this area and what tools you use to break free from the comparison habit.
For a really great read on the subject I would encourage you hop on over to Becoming Minimalist and read A Helpful Guide To Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
Now it’s your turn
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you intentionally nurturing a culture of contentment in your family? Which one of the above practices could you implement today? Do you have any other suggestions? Please share in the comments below!