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How to spoil a kid without raising a spoiled kid.

High school freshman, Cayden Kollasch, breathes, eats and sleeps baseball. So, it's not surprising that 6 years ago he jumped at the chance to attend a baseball clinic in Inglewood, CA, run by Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Hunter Greene. During the clinic, Cayden, a pitcher himself, was one of the lucky few who won a $500 Adidas shopping spree to gear up for his upcoming baseball season.

While most kids would have been elated to drive in a limo to the Adidas store with Hunter, Cayden felt remorse. On the drive home from the clinic, he told his mom that he felt guilty about winning since his parents could afford baseball gear and thought another kid was more deserving of that money. His mom, Michelle, told him to enjoy this opportunity and that they'll figure out a way to pay it forward. And they did just that.

For the past 6 years now, Cayden has selflessly donated all of the money he is gifted for his birthday and Christmas to a local nonprofit youth baseball league. His donation funds an annual scholarship for a local kid, who otherwise couldn’t afford to play. Now my experience is that teenagers can be selfish and many times, entitled, so when I heard about Cayden, I just had to talk to his mom to find out how she is raising such a generous, thoughtful young man.

A mom of three, Michelle kindly shared her expertise in raising spoiled kids who don't act spoiled:

  1. Lead by example: Michelle will include her kids in making toy and clothing donations to make sure they see the importance of giving to those less fortunate. She also puts together care packages with hand-written notes with her family for our troops overseas. She says, "It's one thing to say it, but another to live it."

  2. Teach kids to think outside of themselves: Michelle encourages her kids to volunteer. Instead of sleeping in and playing video games during his winter break, Cayden volunteered his time at a local food bank and really enjoyed it! Giving back shouldn't be a chore, find opportunities that make your kids feel happy and proud that they were able to help others. She notes, "When you are blessed, it's important to pay it forward. And when kids can better understand others' life situations and experiences, it helps instill gratitude for all they have."

  3. Show others kindness and compassion: Michelle recalled two examples of when her kids witnessed their mom going out of her way for others. One involved driving an elderly woman home from Walgreens on a windy, cold day. This stranger was struggling to walk home and gladly accepted the ride. The other was when a person in front of them in line at the grocery store didn't have enough money to pay the total amount and Michelle offered to pay the difference. She believes, "Simple acts of kindness can make a big impact."

  4. Exercise patience: You never know what other people are going through. Showing your kids that you can refrain from getting frustrated in challenging situations and can instead react to someone with empathy and kindness, helps them learn to do the same. She says, "It doesn't take much to make someone smile - to make their day better."

  5. Do your best: That's all you can really do.

As a proud mama, Michelle boasts "Cayden will help you not to get something in return, but because it's the right thing to do. That's just who he is." Well, I think that's who he is, because he's learning from the great example his parents are setting. We all want to spoil our kids and are incredibly fortunate if we're able to do so. However, I think it's really important to instill gratitude and generosity while spoiling them to help our kids grow up to be giving, kind adults. Thank you, Michelle, for helping me learn how to do just that!


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