Battling Entitlement: How to Raise Kids Who are Givers

We have tried to teach kindness and love, service, and hospitality to our children, but ya’ll, entitlement is real. Let’s be honest, for some of us, it’s very easy to spoil our kids and give in to their wants. 

On this side of the world and in our culture, we breed entitlement and an attitude that promotes self. The idea of “deserving” is something we all have to work against proactively.

kids battling entitlement- giving gifts to parentsI Want to Raise Givers, not Grinches. 

Most of our children have more than they need and will never know or understand what it means to lack. Yeah, we all have budgets and unfortunately, life can alter our situations rather quickly. There are a lot of factors that keep the purse strings tight, from job loss, single parenting, inflation, sickness and medical bills, aging parents, etc. And yet, we live in a culture and a world of excess and instant gratification. This kind of culture makes parenting that much harder when we are trying to teach patience, hard work, earning and saving pennies for that special want, and the understanding that you don’t deserve anything, but that all we have is a gift.

How do we battle entitlement and cultivate a heart of giving in our children? 

Teach the Art of Giving and Make it Fun

When the kids were really small, we would give them a small budget and go shopping for their siblings. They were told to find the perfect gift for each and had a certain amount of time to find it. We would divide and conquer, running around the stores searching for the best gift. Today, as teenagers, they do the same except they use their own money. This has taught them to think about each other instead of themselves. It has taught them to budget and think about how much money they want to spend, and it has taught them to be givers. And there have been many times when the perfect gift was a little more than they planned. Another option is to do a sock exchange! Draw names, head to a store and find the perfect socks for your person! Simple, thoughtful, and fun. 

Have a Christmas Kindness Day

We have planned a few of these in the past, and nothing lights up my kids’ faces more than when they get to witness the surprise and joy in another person’s face! It has become one of our most favorite traditions. Here are some ideas for battling entitlement by spreading Christmas Cheer…do one or do all! I say, make a day of it! 

  • Get a bunch of $1 bills and head to the dollar store. Place the $ around different areas of the store (the toy section is always fun, but I personally enjoy watching when adults or sweet elderly ladies find the dollars!) hide around the corner and see the delight on people’s faces! 
  • Go to a less affluent neighborhood grocery store and pay for someone’s groceries. 
  • Find a grocery or store parking lot with carts galore and gather and put away all the shopping carts. 
  • Go to your favorite barista counter and fill the tip jar!
  • Drive around and find as many Salvation Army buckets as you can and donate to them all over the city. 
  • Have other ideas? Post them in the comments!

Serve up some Love

There are some great places in the Houston area to serve together as a family.

One of my favorites is Lunches of Love in Rosenberg. LoL serves lunches to kids with food insecurity when school is not in session and on weekends. All ages can help from making sandwiches and packing lunches to coloring the brown bags.

Another great option to serve is to pack bags for the homeless. Places like Star of Hope in Houston or Hope Impacts in Katy have urgent needs in the winter like coats and jackets, blankets, etc. They are also always taking bags that you can fill with items like socks, hygiene products, wipes, towels, etc. Find your like-new coats and jackets, head to the store and fill a bunch of Ziploc bags and donate to these great organizations that are caring for the marginalized. 

Buy some Farm Animals or Sponsor a Child

We have always been advocates for programs like Compassion International or World Vision. Every year the children raise money through bake sales, selling poinsettias or putting aside a bit of their own earnings to buy their sponsored children things like soccer balls or pigs, or goats. It’s always so much fun to look through the catalog and dream about what we could give these sweet children and families. I promise, you will be so excited to buy a family some chickens too!  

Serve the Foster Care Community

Adoption and fostering are a huge part of our heart as a family and this year we are partnering with a local organization, Foster Village Houston. Foster Village has some wonderful ways to give during the season or anytime. From raising money for their holiday wishlist to gathering items for holiday meal kits, helping families who are providing homes for sweet babies and children is something we can all do.

What I love about Foster Village is that they show up when a need arises. We have a dear friend who is fostering a sweet baby girl. She needed a bassinet for this brand new 6 lb baby; she called Foster Village and they spread out the word and had a bassinet delivered the next day! Check them out, volunteer as a group, and make a holiday meal kit. 

As parents, it is essential for us to open the eyes of our children so that they can see others. Through service and kindness, we can battle entitlement and raise children who change the world through their love. Love others well and make this the best, ‘givingest’ Holiday season ever!


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Andrea Portilla
Andrea is a true Houston native! Other than her college years at Baylor and a few summers with family in Guatemala, she has lived around the Houston area forever and cannot imagine living anywhere else. Especially because of family nearby as built in babysitters, so many friendships built throughout the years, and the great people of this city, Houston is so dear to her heart. In junior high her family moved to the Sugar Land area, but she attended a high school in town and spent as much time as possible at the Galleria in the 90s! After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Secondary Education, she married her high school sweetheart, Orlando, and they moved to the Richmond area where they have been ever since and where she homeschools their son and 2 daughters, ages 15, 12 & 9. Andrea is very active in Women’s ministry at her church and in her community. She began writing for more therapeutic reasons when the kids were small and soon began writing publicly, remembering her love for writing and realizing the gift and calling that it was in her life. She published her first book, Breathless: Prayers from a Mother Learning to Exhale in 2018, a devotional last year and is currently working on a few new projects. In her down time, Andrea loves alone time, especially because she’s an enneagram 4! She also loves coffee, hanging out with her family and friends, traveling, New York City, musicals, especially Hamilton, fair trade jewelry, and charcuterie boards! You can find her writing at or follow her on Instagram @dreaportilla and on Facebook.


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