Mrs Chilton
Head of Student Wellbeing

In Term 1 2023 we will be holding a Parent Forum with Dr Judith Locke, psychologist and author of two parenting books, The Bonsai Child and The Bonsai Student. Please save the relevant date in your calendar for this important conversation.

Parent Forum: Helping your child or teen become confident and capable in 2023

Senior School Parent Forum – Monday 27 February, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Wallis Auditorium

Junior School Parent Forum – Tuesday 28 February, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, Wallis Auditorium

As we wrap up the year at Meriden, we have much to be thankful for. It has been a year in which we have returned to our regular rhythms and routines and the girls have thrived. In the article below, Dr Locke reflects on the importance of cultivating gratitude.

Teach your child gratitude – Written by Dr Judith Locke

Having gratitude for the good things in your life is a cornerstone of satisfaction and wellbeing. But in the age of excess, how do parents ensure their child is broadly appreciative of their pretty good life?

A few years ago, a lovely couple told me about their very difficult teenager who had made the family’s life very challenging. “He’s so demanding and complaining about what he doesn’t have”, they said, “He completely ruined our Christmas trip to Switzerland.”

Sorry, what? Your child got to be a pain in the neck last year and he got rewarded with a trip to Switzerland? And yet he still thought his life was hard done by?

I would like to say that this story is unusual but increasingly I am hearing parents complain about their child’s lack of gratitude. And the ironic thing is that often these children appear to have everything going for them and the sorts of childhoods that many would only dream of.

In some ways, it is the very fact that they get everything that makes them even more demanding. I call these kids “the 99ers”. Ninety-nine per cent of their life is going well, but often they are livid about the one per cent that is not exactly to their demands. This minor inconvenience often makes them angrier than the children who have got far less.

In some ways, the more you give your child the more you teach them to always expect things from you. If they typically receive everything they ask for, why wouldn’t they ask for more?

So, how do you turn it around?

We cannot underestimate the positive impact of a child being proud of something they feel their efforts have earned them. If they have worked hard to do extra chores to earn their spending money at a theme park or their candy purchasing power at the movies, then they are not only going to spend the money more wisely, but they are going to be more appreciative of the moment than the child who has been handed the money via request or demand only.

Think about the thing that you are proudest of. It is typically not something that came easily to you, but something that you worked hard for – the car you saved for, the business you put in hours to build, the long-term relationship you put your best into every day. Next time your child asks, give them two for the price of one, an opportunity to earn the item and the pride and satisfaction that come with their achievement.

Takeaway for parents

Start giving your child the chance to earn the good things in their life – doing chores to get screen time, taking in the washing to get a lift to their mate’s place. This will go a long way to making them more grateful for all you do for them and their many blessings in life.

© Judith Locke

Dr Judith Locke is a Clinical Psychologist and child wellbeing specialist who presents sessions for parents and teachers at schools around Australia and internationally. For more of Judith’s work read her parenting books, The Bonsai Child or The Bonsai Student. You can also follow her Facebook page Confident and Capable.