10 Ways to Give Your Child an Abundance Mindset

Written by on November 29, 2019 in Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting with 0 Comments

By Faith Spencer

“In the present moment, we already have more than enough conditions for our happiness. We just need to stop and recognize them in order to touch true happiness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

One major hallmark of children is that they want things. Lots of things. They desperately want their bottle, their pacifier, and whatever shiny toy we flash in front of them. As they get older, every TV commercial sends them our way with a squealing plea such as, “I want the Squishy Snugglemuffin!” 

As adults, however, we have learned the pitfalls of craving thing after thing to make us happy. We’ve learned that, in the Buddha’s words, “The root of suffering is attachment,” and so we try to rise above cravings and attachments. 

Also, we’ve realized that the key to abundance is to appreciate what we already have. As Oprah Winfrey wisely said: “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” 

We’ve also discovered the value of having faith in a Source beyond ourselves that provides for us. As Jesus said, “Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? Or, what should we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” 

This way of viewing life represents what’s called an “abundance mindset” — a belief that the things that we want and need will be provided to us, and that we already have much to appreciate. This mindset helps us to enjoy life without lamenting what we don’t have — and it leads to more abundance.

But how do we help our children to develop this mindset, sooner rather than later? Although children are always going to be little “cravers” to a certain extent, we can facilitate their ability to be satisfied with what they have and to be hopeful about having enough in the future. 

To help our children develop an abundance mindset, try these 10 suggestions:

1. Say YES more often. We all want our children to believe in a benevolent, giving God who bestows blessings upon them abundantly. Since we are all manifestations of Spirit, as parents we are representatives of God as the provider. It follows, then, that as we give to our children as unrestrictedly as we can, we exemplify the giving nature of God. 

This begins with us showing them that spirit of abundance through our attention, time and emotional generosity. We also try to say yes to their requests (within reason). When we are stingy with our children or act as they must always earn good things, we transmit a scarcity mindset that is counter to the nature of God. (We still say no sometimes, of course, but we do so lovingly — see #5 below.)

2. Give before they ask. In the Gospel of Matthew, it reads, “Father knows what you need before you ask him.” As representatives of God, we can delight in giving to our child, making a practice of anticipating their enjoyment as we choose items that we know will brighten their day. Although we may not do this every day, we can try to do it regularly, as this helps our child escape their “greedy” mode and “asking” mode. 

3. Attune to your child. Highly attuned and responsive parents create a secure attachment with their children, and studies show that “the securely attached person expects to be liked and cared for,” according to Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Child. When children expect to be cared for, they can also trust in life to provide for them.

4. Practice empathy. According to Michele Borba, author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, research reveals that empathy plays “a surprising role in predicting kids’ happiness and success,” including their health, wealth, relationship satisfaction, resilience, and more. To help our children develop empathy, we must first be empathic towards them. We also can teach them empathy in various ways, such as educating them in emotional literacy and asking them how other people might feel.  

5. Help them self-regulate. All children have trouble accepting their limited means to acquire what they want, and they need help recovering from their disappointed feelings. A good way to help children self-regulate is to empathize with their emotions: “It’s so hard to not get that toy! It makes you so sad because it looks so fun!” Next, offer alternatives to help them recover, such as “Maybe when we get home we can get out the play-doh and make a new toy of our own!” Or “I’m so sorry honey,” (hug), “but you know what? We haven’t played much with your new Legos set…maybe we can do that when we get home!” 

The idea is to help them feel that life still offers good things, even if they feel disappointed that they can’t have a certain thing right now. This helps them to develop resilience, to trust in abundance, and to avoid a backlog of stuck feelings that distort their behavior and make them more demanding. 

6. Model and teach gratefulness. One way to foster gratitude is to model a thankful attitude yourself. Teaching children to say thank you is important, but even better is to instill a sense of genuine gratitude and thankfulness by creating a family culture of gracious and generous givers and receivers. Also, studies show that regular gratitude practices, even when done for a short time (such as a few weeks), produce greater happiness levels in children that remain months later. One such practice is asking each person to list what they are grateful for at dinner, at weekly family meetings, or at bedtime. 

7. Model reverence for life. When your children are excited about the rocks they collect in the yard, act excited too. And when they enjoy a small toy from the store, delight in it too. Notice what is special about that toy with them and the amazing things it can do. This instills a reverence for things. The opposite would be a lack of appreciation for things and boredom even when playing with a newly acquired toy. We want our children to be appreciative and to bask in the beauty and glory of everything. This helps them to feel satisfied with what they have.

8. Speak abundantly. Since children unconsciously absorb the beliefs of the people in their home environment, watch your thoughts and especially your words, ensuring that they represent an abundance mindset. Don’t say, “We can’t afford that,” but instead say, “That isn’t in our budget right now, but we can do it another time.” Talk positively and optimistically about money instead of conveying fearful thoughts about your finances.

9. Teach mindfulness. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to teach them mindfulness techniques. When children learn that each moment is a friendly moment, rather than something to escape from, they are less likely to engage in mindless consumption. Explains Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “Many people consume because they want to cover up the suffering inside.” With so many books, apps and DVDs available today, it’s easier than ever for families to do yoga, meditation or breathing exercises together.

10. Teach “Give, Save, Spend.” When the time is right, give children a weekly allowance and their own money to use. Teach them about thegive, save, spendphilosophy and buy them a special three-slot piggy bank so they can decide how much to use as spending money, how much to save for future goals and how much to give to charity. This helps them to begin to feel powerful about money, to set goals, and to become discerning about what they value. 

As parents, we are in a position to help our children develop a sense of abundance, and this mindset will serve them well their entire lives. It’s important to help our children eschew the notion that things and money equate with happiness. As explained by Shakti Gawain, in her book Creating True Prosperity, “The sad fact is most of us do not experience prosperity no matter how much money we earn or have.” 

As we help our children realize how abundant their lives can be regardless of how much money (or how many toys) they have, they will be ahead of the curve in their ability to thrive. We want our children to know that life will provide for them abundantly and without reservation. This comforting knowledge will help them become adults who can easily create an abundant, fulfilling life.

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