7 Ways to Teach Gratitude to our Children

If you have ever spent Christmas with a child or went tot heir birthday you may have heard the following…

“Clothes again?” “But I don’t like clothes. I want toys! Why do they always give me clothes?”

And maybe you think, how could XYZ (the parent) raise such an ungrateful child!

Teaching gratitude

Today’s parents find that teaching kids about gratitude and empathy can be difficult. Thankfully, there are many ways to raise kids to become more appreciative and to show it. Here are some surefire strategies:

1. Teach good manners.
Teach them to say ‘thank you’ whenever he receives goods, services, or acts of kindness. Make the connection between acts of kindness and appropriate words. You are not only teaching him good manners, you are also teaching him about empathy.

2. Consider the reasons behind ungrateful behavior.
A child who is hungry, upset, over-stimulated or tired can hardly be expected to be on his best behavior. Take his temperament into account as well.

Some kids are more outgoing and talkative and therefore more likely to express their thanks easily as opposed to a reserved child.

3. Praise empathic impulses.
In the preschool classroom, the best teachers embellish in order to get the point across. They say things like, “I think that it was sweet of Alissa to share her crackers with Gabby. I know that is Alissa’s favorite snack. I’m also proud of Gabby for not forgetting to say ‘thank you.’”

By making comments like this, they show everyone that they approve of these acts. The kids also become more conscious of how their generosity and appreciation affect their friends.

Likewise, parents should practice this at home, especially during moments when siblings act positively towards each other.

4. Make the child part of the gift-giving process.
Take your child along as you do your Christmas/birthday gift shopping. If this is too difficult, employ your child’s help when making homemade gifts, like baked goods or home décor or simply ask him to decide which gift should go to whom.By doing so, you make him learn to see how much of an effort it takes, and you make him more appreciative of the gifts he receives from others.

By doing so, you make him learn to see how much of an effort it takes, and you make him more appreciative of the gifts he receives from others.

5. Train your kids to write thank-you notes.
They can write notes to teachers, aunts, coaches, or anyone who gives gifts. Notes are important because they demonstrate and instill a higher level of appreciation. The child would have to think a lot more about what the person actually did for him and therefore internalize why he should be grateful. Server suggests older kids to send e-mail, phone calls or text messages, or even to make their own thank-you cards.

The child would have to think a lot more about what the person actually did for him and therefore internalize why he should be grateful.

Older kids can send e-mail, make a phone calls or send a text message, or even make their own thank-you cards.

6. Don’t open the presents all at one go.
It is good to space gift-opening, so you have time to look at the virtues of each gift. Be it on Christmas day or your child’s birthday, you should let your child play with, eat or try on the gift before heading on to the next one.

7. Be a role model for your children.
If showing appreciation is not one of your best suits, then you can’t expect your children to be grateful either. A parent who constantly snickers or bemoans gifts received over the holidays should be careful.

It is possible that the child will follow your example and repeat some of the unpleasant comments upon opening gifts he does not particularly like.

It would be better if she hears you make such comments such as, “This shirt is a really pretty color. Nicole must have remembered how much I like blue. I’m going to give her a call to say thanks.”

Ultimately, the best way for parents to teach gratitude is the old-fashioned way — by living it out at home.

Saying “thank you” to each other and recognizing the special contributions of each family member will naturally lead children to carry the attitude of gratitude into their adult lives.