Skip A Soccer Game To Get More Grateful Children!
With the best of intentions, when we go to every practice, treat ever sporting event our children participate in like a world championship, celebrate every graduation from preschool to eight grade, we are unwittingly adding to our children’s sense of entitlement and ingratitude.
Ask yourself this, do your children really appreciate you being at all of these things, I mean really appreciate it, or do they just expect you to be there? For most of us, the answer is they’ve come to expect it because that’s what we’ve always done!
When there’s expectation, without appreciation, you get entitlement and ingratitude. Again, it’s with well-meaning intentions because we love our kids and we want to be there for them.
But always ‘being there for them’ because we want to be isn’t always the best thing for them.
Aside from adding to their sense of entitlement and ingratitude, it also prevents them from truly knowing that they love what they’re doing. If they’re playing soccer because they think you love watching them, or the coach tells them they’re really good, or that you love soccer or their brothers or sisters have played, they might be playing for all the wrong reasons. In fact, they may not really even like playing soccer but are afraid to admit it because they don’t want to let you or anyone else down.
So this week’s tip is all about starting to chip away at this sense of entitlement and ingratitude we’ve too often helped create. I’m not asking you to skip everything, not even a game if you don’t want to, but as you’ll see you can skip a practice here and there and start making a difference.
Just a quick note I didn’t mention in the video. When you don’t go to everything, your kids will really begin to appreciate what you do go to, and while you might miss going to every practice, most kids will actually be relieved or not even care if you don’t. I know, sounds harsh, but it’s good for them, and in the end it’s good for you too!
Hi Cheri Fogarty here, author of How To Get Happier & More Grateful Children in Just 21 Days and Founder of The Habit Gratitude Blueprint™ for Busy Moms and Families where we show you step-by-step how to create the habit of gratitude in your busy family.
I know everyone is probably saying, “oh my gosh, I could never do that, I can’t skip a soccer game, that’s okay. If you can’t skip a game, skip a practice.
Because here’s the thing: As parents, we are so involved in our children’s lives, more so than any other time. When we were growing up, our parents weren’t with us for everything and on every occasion. We didn’t celebrate graduation from pre-school, or kindergarten or fifth grade and eighth grade.
By the time we got to high school, we got, yeah, congratulations for graduating. You did something you were supposed to do, right?! We were supposed to graduate from high school because if you didn’t you didn’t have as many options.
So we’re now celebrating all of these things are kids should just be doing and what happens then, when we celebrate every graduation, when we celebrate every game as if it’s the world championship as opposed to just letting our children enjoy the experience, we’re creating a sense of entitlement and ingratitude because we’re telling our kids when we celebrate five graduations by the time they get to high school, that they’re doing something special.
But really what they’re doing is what they’re supposed to be doing. They have to do it. They have to go to school. And we want our kids to go to school.
So unfortunately this creates a sense of entitlement in children and that’s come to fruition with the 20 somethings who by their own admission is as entitled a group as there’s ever been in history. And there are sorts of problems that go along with that from lack of appreciation, ingratitude and unhappiness.
There are so many very negative consequences of entitlement and ingratitude. We don’t want this for our kids but with our well meaning intentions of wanting to take pictures like the paparazzi at every game and every event and every thing at every practice and everything our kids do, instead of again just letting them enjoy the experience; we’re contributing to their sense of entitlement and ingratitude.
So what can we do to counteract that?
Now again, if you can’t miss a soccer game, that’s okay, I get it I don’t really want to miss a soccer game either. But you know what I don’t do, I don’t go to practices.
There are moms who go to every practice, dads too, who sit and watch. You know why I don’t do this? I learned a long time ago because I used to go. My now 14 year old, almost 15, she did taekwondo and she loved doing it. I went, mostly because I had a babysitter during the time and I needed to get away from my really resistant child and I needed a break. I also loved watching her do TKD because she was so full of life and had so much fun, or I would just sit and read a book. But either way I stayed there because it was easier for the 45 minutes, right, I know you can relate to that, than to drive home and come back.
So long story short after a couple of years, because a black belt or TKD like any martial art takes a while to work towards a black belt. So after a while she started being not so excited to go which was so unlike her because she was always super excited to go.
And I’d always told her, all along, always told my kids, made a point of telling them that if you ever don’t like to do something anymore, stop. Unless you’ve committed to a team and you need to finish out that season, just stop, because life is short and there are so many things to try so why on earth would you stick with something you don’t like.
So I had been really clear about this, I had been really clear with my kids, they shouldn’t do things they don’t love for anyone else and they should only do things for themselves.
So as clear as I’d been, I asked my daughter, “you know, why don’t you want to do, I feel like you don’t want to go to TKD anymore?” And you know what she said, she said, “well you love watching me so much. I don’t want to quit because I feel badly because you love watching me so much.”
I was like oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I felt so awful because while I had said the words, and really meant them, that I really didn’t want her doing anything she didn’t want to do, she felt because I enjoyed watching her, and I did, she felt that she would be letting me down even though she didn’t want to do TKD anymore, she’d be letting me down if she quit.
That was a huge lesson.
So I told her let’s take a break, if you ever want to go back, you let me know when you’re ready and you can go back. She took about six months off and she did go back because she really did love it and she ended up following through, a few more years and getting her blackbelt.
But you know what I stopped doing, I stopped going and watching every time. Sometimes I sat in the car, sometimes I ran errands, sometimes I went home. But I did not watch every practice. I watched some, but I did not watch them all because it was about her, it’s about our kids, it’s about their enjoyment.
My nine year old loves soccer. I have yet to go to one of her soccer practices [the fourth child always reaps the benefits of parenting lessons learned!!]. I drop her off and I leave and I sit in the car and read a book. I could sit on the field, but I sit in the car on purpose. Because her experience, that soccer practice, is for her. It’s for her to enjoy a sport she loves, not to worry that I’m watching or that she’s disappointing me – not that my kids would ever think that because I work really hard at having them understand that it’s about them and their experience and what they want to do, but I never want that to be an issue again after that lesson with my little TKD girl.
That was an important lesson because if we go to everything we run the risk of not knowing if truly our children like what they’re doing, if it’s bringing them happiness.
So that’s what I’m suggesting this week, try it. If you’re like I am and don’t go to everything already, great, maybe try skipping a little more, because again, the experiences are about our kids. Even if you miss that soccer game, even if you do, really isn’t that soccer game for your kids because they love to play soccer.
And yes, I understand, when they’re little they really want us to be there, and we want to be too.
But another thing I’ll tell you, my older two who are in high school, and they play lacrosse. I didn’t go to every game this year. I didn’t go to every game and it’s the first time I haven’t gone to an actual game on purpose. I’ve had to choose things before when there were conflicts, go to one thing but not another, but I actually made a conscious choice after all of the research I’ve done on this topic to not go to every game.
And you know what, they were fine with it because they loved playing lacrosse for the sake of playing lacrosse having nothing to do with whether I was there to see them score goals. My oldest one scored tons of goals in one of the games I missed and she said, “yeah, I scored lots of goals.” It wasn’t like, oh you missed it, she loved doing it.
That’s what we’re going for here. So just this week, and hopefully beyond, try skipping one thing. It doesn’t have to be the big game. It doesn’t have to be a game, but skip a practice. If you normally watch their piano practice or their ballet practice, skip it. Sit in the car. Let them know that you love them, that you love that they’re doing it, but it’s for them. It’s about them. That you want to know that they enjoy doing it for the sake of enjoying it and not to be confused by us and our desire to watch our children.
So that’s it. It was a little longer than usual but I hope you understand how this actually works to counter entitlement and ingratitude and helps them feel not as entitled and now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Let me know what you think of this. Will you or have you skipped games or practices before? What do you think of this tip and then of course come back and let us know what you skipped this week. We’d love to hear from you, how it went and how your kids reacted and if it’s the first time you’ve missed anything, they may be stunned. That’s okay, because that’s how we start chipping away at the entitlement, one day at a time.
Thank you so much as always for being here and if you’re ready to not only stop the entitlement and ingratitude but to actually start teaching your children to be grateful, to create the habit of gratitude in your busy home, in the real world, be sure to head over to CheriFogarty.com after the episode if you’re not already there and we have all sorts of tips, tools, resources and ideas for exactly how to do that.
Thank you again, as always, remember we can have happier and more grateful children, we can be happier and more grateful ourselves, and we can and we are, changing the world one child and one family at a time starting with our own!
Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next time!!
p.s. I’ve done a lot of reading and researching in this area and while I could recommend 30+ books to help you understand (and believe!!) this concept, I’m just going to give you the two I think are the absolute best “if you want to know more” about this topic and how our parenting is impacting our children.
We’ll also cover a lot more of these things in future videos, or check out some of our previous videos now on our blog: http://www.cherifogarty.com
It’s the same author: Madeline Levine, PhD
This book is a MUST read for all parents (I read it years ago and have reread it three times since!): The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids”
Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or “Fat Envelopes”
Here is just one quick point she makes that speaks to what this week’s video was all about – lots more in the book so be sure to check it out:
“Entitled children are the inevitable outcome of time and resources that are wildly and disproportionately assigned to the children and not the adults in the family.” page 20
p.p.s Additional Information:
As we always do, as part of our mission to help moms and dads be the best parents they can be, we give you ways to put what you’ve learned into action and ‘do it’.
Remember, common sense isn’t common practice. Learning something isn’t the same as doing something.
Knowing you need to teach your children to be more grateful, and actually teaching them to be more grateful, are two very different things, especially in the world we live in!
So be sure to check out our website is you’re not already there at http://www.cherifogarty.com for all sorts of FREE tips, tools, ideas and strategies for getting more grateful children as well as products and online training programs to teach you step-by-step how to do it.
Or check out or newest online training and coaching program, The Habit Gratitude Blueprint™ For Busy Families: It’s the super simple and fun, step-by-step system for creating the habit of gratitude with your children no matter how busy you are or your family is!
Learn more at http://www.HabitGratitudeBlueprint.com
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