1. Stop extreme materialism
Instead of giving gifts, money or food, give your children your time. A day trip to the park can cost just a handful of fils, yet would mean so much more than a plastic toy.
2. Prepare your children for gift-giving occasions
They need to learn that every present has been thought about and bought with them in mind, and while it might not be what they would have chosen, it’s special nonetheless.
3. Begin a tradition of saying thanks at family mealtimes
Think of one or two things that happened that day or week that you’re thankful for – ‘I’m thankful that I scored the winning goal’, and parents need to join in too, ‘I’m thankful that my car passed its service’, etc.
4. Engage your children in the process of giftbuying for others
Encourage them to really think about what Aunty Veronica would like and then go and buy it together. This encourages them to put themselves in others’ shoes and not just think about their own gratification.
5. Lead by example
Express your gratitude every time someone does something for you – thank the lady at the supermarket, thank the gas attendant, thank the person holding the door open for you; children copy behaviour.
Read more: 'The UAE's Entitlement Epidemic'
6. Cultivate empathy
It’s in a mother’s nature to want to shield children from the realities of life, but to raise generous, kind adults, children need to be aware of how lucky they are and that other people may be suffering. Talk to them about poverty and how children live in less privileged environments.
7. Say ‘no’
Parenting is not a popularity contest. Coping with being told ‘no’ is a crucial step in a child’s evolution, getting them to recognise that other people have needs as strong and as valid as theirs.
8. Create a work ethic
Encourage teenagers to get part time jobs or at least work for their pocket money. Children who lounge around not helping all week yet still receive their weekly allowance are learning that laziness pays dividends.
9. Limit treats
Many children have developed an air of expectation that each shopping trip will result in a treat, and throw a fit when this doesn’t happen. Instead, have ‘look’ days and ‘buy’ days, so they know before the trip that today is just a ‘look’ day so they then don’t expect a new toy at the end of it.
10. Get involved in charity work and donating
Find a charity that they can identify with – refugee children, or orphanages – and get them to go through their belongings to set aside a pile to donate to these children.