There comes a time in a young child's life when the world around them ceases to be full of awe and wonder and turns into "boring".  It's at this time that a child will suddenly and miraculously know everything and you, as the parent, will know absolutely nothing.  

Up until this time children are a joy to be around (for the most part) as they're grateful for all the wonderful things with which God has filled their world.  After the change these punk kids must be constantly stuffed and crammed with entertainment and/or mindless noise at all times or they will explode.

At what point do kids stop wanting to have their pic taken in front of an awesome fighter jet and start complaining because you can't climb up into the cockpit? Photo by Jamie Garrett

Taking my two sons to the air show this past weekend in Temple really revealed the difference in their ages.  My younger son is five, and he loved everything about the air show.  He even loved the free ride we got to our seats in the golf cart.  The remote-controlled airplanes were awesome.  The explosions were awesome.  Even the bouncy-houses were awesome.  My ten-year old son, Tyler, could have cared less what was going on around him.  What's the first thing he said after I spent $10 to get him a wristband for the inflatable rides?  "Can I have $7 more so I can jump on the trampoline thingy?"  My younger sons comment after getting the exact same wristband?  I'm not sure, because we was screaming loudly as he ran to the nearest inflatable.

There is no set age as to when the transformation will take place, but much like the Gremlins, there are ways to delay the inevitable.  First, never relent on forcing your children to say "thank you".  Not just a simple, "Thank you", but follow it up with, "Thank you for what?".  It's just something that will remind them something nice is being done for them, and it prevents them from doing the muttering "thank you" that usually makes it look like the nice gesture on someone's behalf is actually an inconvenience because they were forced to say "thank you".

Another way to keep your children grateful is through volunteer work.  There's a risk with this method.  If your child is already morphing into the ungrateful punk you've been dreading, he/she may see it as a freakshow if you're helping the poor and less fortunate and that will only push them more quickly along.  Start them young, volunteering around the holidays.  Take toys to Toys For Tots around Christmas.  On their birthday, make them give an orphan child a gift.  Show them the great place they're at in the world.

Finally, don't have a second child.  That's the one way you're guaranteed to lose your thankful child.  As soon as the 2nd child is old enough to talk, your oldest will proceed to show off and tell them how much their baby toys aren't as cool as his "older kid" toys.  Once that happens,  both kids will begin to spiral into a period in their lives where everything sucks and nothing is as awesome as it once was.  The reason, I believe, this has such a negative effect on the older child is because once they start telling their younger siblings how much their baby toys are stupid, they'll begin to look at their own stuff as stupid, and then the "gimme, gimme, gimme" stage begins... and God have mercy on your soul when that happens.