Because kids are naturally concerned about receiving approval and admiration, they’re tempted to be self-promoting, wanting to look better than others. This self-promotion sometimes translates into greediness, gossip, and griping. The good news is, most kids are also naturally compassionate and empathetic when they understand that someone else is suffering. They are eager to help and give.
Talk with your child about the reasons selfishness is so tempting—and so empty in its aims. Tell about times you have seen selfishness hurt a friendship or a group of people. Your child may not even realize what her lack of thankfulness looks like.
Then discuss how thankfulness and generosity can make a difference. A person’s life can be transformed with the kindness of another person. Schools and communities benefit, too. Expose your child to the stories of lives changed through a Christmas shoebox, a child sponsorship, or the help of a Southern Baptist missionary to reinforce that we were created to live with a concern for others, not just ourselves.
To practice becoming other-focused, make a “Thankful Notebook.” At the top of each page, write a person’s name or category, like physical, emotional, mental, educational, or spiritual. On the page, write specific ways God blesses you with that person or in that area. For example, on a sibling’s page, a child may write: “She plays with me,” or “He tells funny jokes.” Periodically practice thankfulness by writing in the notebook—especially as part of correction for wrong attitudes.