10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Child

teaching kids gratitude

Parents around the country are noticing an alarming trend. To put it bluntly, their wonderful kids turn into entitled jerks when Christmas rolls around! We know you don’t want your kid to be greedy or ungrateful. Now that the holiday season is here, however, you may be seeing less-than-ideal behavior from your little ones.

How do you teach gratitude and humility to your kids when it’s the season of giving (or, in some cases, the season of more-more-more and me-me-me)?

Gratitude Matters More than You Think  

For dismayed parents, it matters when children don’t seem to feel thankful for what they have. We all know that it’s important for children to develop an awareness of those less privileged than they are. But a habit of thankfulness does more for a child than you might think!

Developing gratitude helps children form loving bonds. It allows them to practice the types of emotional skills that will serve them well later in life. Recent studies suggest that gratitude “helps people feel connected” to a community and helps them “form, maintain, and strengthen supportive relationships.” By practicing gratitude, you’re teaching your children empathy and love. And what parent doesn’t want to do that?

This is why many parents today are downplaying presents and giving their children quality time and new experiences instead. If you love shopping and giving presents over the holidays, remember to have your children pick out presents for others. Here are 10 more things you can do to encourage your children to have an attitude of gratitude.

10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Child

(1) Model Gratitude

Your child will imitate what you do. We advise you to demonstrate the attitude and behavior that you’d like to see in your child. That includes thanking those who serve you and offering to help others when you can. It’s also important to talk about gratitude out loud. Praise your children when they listen and express gratitude for having a cozy home or a wonderful dinner. By being more mindful yourself, and making it a habit your children can pick up on, you encourage the whole family to be more thankful and kind.

(2) Encourage Your Child to Lend a Hand

Helping others doesn’t have to be as rigorous or dramatic as serving at a soup kitchen or building a Habitat for Humanity home (although those things are certainly admirable)! Helping can be as simple as raking leaves for a neighbor or doing the dishes after a family gathering. Show your children that building relationships with others is a priority, and that helping others when they need help is expected.

(3) Show Appreciation to Your Children, Too

Using praise is a great way to strengthen and encourage the behavior you like to see. If you child does a great job of cleaning his room, tell him so! Express gratitude when your daughter helps set the table or do yard work. This goes along with modeling: It makes your children more likely to practice gratitude when their parents do, too.

(4) “Thank You” Notes Never Go Out of Style

Encourage your children to write “Thank You” notes. It may feel old-fashioned, but it’s a helpful way to instill a habit of showing gratitude. Plus, kids will love doing something a little crafty to express their thanks.

(5) Learn How to Say “No”

This one is simple: just say no. Kids need to learn that they can’t get everything they want, not even at Christmas. Some parents are ditching material gifts altogether in favor of experiences. It’s not a bad idea if you want to both feel closer to your children and encourage gratitude.

(6) Read Positive Books with Your Child

There are several children’s books out there that express the theme of gratitude. Pick up books like “The Giving Tree” or “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” Your local librarian or bookstore can point you to other options, too!

(7) Set Expectations Before You Go Shopping with Your Child

Not every shopping trip is an opportunity for a present. Your child should know, before they even enter the store, that it will or won’t be a trip for them. Get into the habit of setting expectations, and then sticking to them. It’s okay to tell a child that “we’re just looking today.”

(8) Donate Old Toys

Is your child’s room filled with toys they don’t play with anymore? Why not make a habit of donating their old toys and clothes to less privileged families? You can choose and deliver the items to a deserving cause together, and talk about why it’s so important to help.

(9) Help Your Children Write Gratitude Lists

You can commit to a Gratitude Journal if you wish, but you don’t have to. Another option is to have your children write a gratitude list at the same time they’re writing a Christmas or birthday list. These lists make great keepsakes, and they keep your kiddos thinking about gratitude.

(10) Create Routines

Does your child already have a bedtime or dinner routine? Why not add a moment for gratitude? Asking your child “what are you most thankful for today?” can be the highlight of bedtime or mealtime.

Making Gratitude a Routine Helps You Raise Thankful, Loving Children

All these little things can really add up. Whatever you can do to make thankfulness and appreciation a routine will go a long way. And there’s no better time to start than the holiday season.

Happy holidays from all of us at Adventure Learning Center!