No one wants to raise an ungrateful child. We hear a lot today about kids feeling entitlement. I know personally teaching kids gratitude is very high on my priority list. Below you will find 5 easy tips for teaching kids gratitude.
Since day one, I have been toying with different ideas to help to teach my kids to be grateful.
I don’t know about you but there is nothing that makes my blood boil more than when my child throws a fit when they don’t get something they want or when we are leaving somewhere fun.
There are times when I get really angry and think “I just took you somewhere fun and instead of being happy and thankful, you are throwing a fit!”.
I often have to stop in these moments and instead of acting on my anger, look at it as a learning opportunity for them.
Sometimes these things are not really them being ungrateful but more of a meltdown based on being tired, hungry, or unable to express their feelings through words.
So I really try to go easy on them if I believe their ungratefulness is rooted in one of these issues. I don’t know about your child but when my child is tired or hungry, she turns into an exorcist child! I think if you have a toddler, you know exactly what that looks like.
For everyone of these negative moments, I have several positive moments when my child shows gratitude.
Just a few days ago my daughter, while eating her dinner, said to me “this dinner is so yummy mommy, thank you for making it”. This simple act on her part made my heart fill with love and pride. She is getting it!
Despite the setbacks, the lesson of gratitude IS sinking in.
While my ideas are not perfect and I am always trying out new things to help teach gratitude to my children, I thought I would share a few of the things that have worked with you.
5 Tips for Teaching Kids to be Grateful
1. Lead by example-
There is no greater power when it comes to teaching our children than leading by example. No matter what it is, our children look to us for examples on how the world works and how they should behave.
Show gratitude in your own life. Make sure that you verbally express your gratitude for them and for others. Express gratitude for the things you have, so they can see gratitude in action.
When someone does something nice for your child (or others) or when you see your child doing something nice for someone else, vocalize to your child how that was very nice and it wasn’t something they HAD to do.
For example, when my mom buys my daughter something when they are out together I say something like “that was really nice of Grandma, she didn’t need to buy you X but she really wanted to do something nice for you. How sweet of her”. It doesn’t need to be anything heavy handed but just a general acknowledgment of kind actions, so that your child learns to recognize and appreciate others’ kindness.
2. Teach them manners-
From before my children are even talking I try to teach them proper manners. Say please and thank you often when dealing with them and to those around you.
When they are a bit older, teach them proper etiquette for accepting gifts and compliments graciously.
A great way to teach young kids manners is to role play with toys. I learned this trick early on and it works for so many different parenting scenarios.
You simply act out a scenario where one of the toys is displaying bad manners and have another toy point out what was wrong with those actions and then demonstrate the right way to do it is.
You can also act out scenarios that demonstrate a behavior you want to encourage. For instance, we play “birthday party” with my daughter’s Little People and while playing I demonstrate good manners for receiving gifts and showing appreciation. I also used this trick for all kinds of things from potty training to learning not to hit others with great success.
3-Skip the toys or gifts for no reason-
Okay, not altogether but really cut back. I know it is fun to see the excitement when you buy your children gifts but when we are constantly buying things for our kids for no reason, it gives them the impression that they are entitled to them.
They become less appreciative of gifts in general because they are common place. When I cut back on buying toys for no reason, my daughter become SO much more appreciative for the presents she got for her birthday and Christmas. Now we do still occasionally get her a gift or toy for no reason but it is few and far between.
4-Let them earn their own money-
This has been one that has had the biggest impact on my kids so far. They are still young, so we keep it very simple. They have chores they are expected to do simply because they are member of the family, we call these “family contributions” instead of chores.
We in turn give them a weekly allowance. These are all age appropriate tasks and something that they are fully capable of doing. Things like putting their clothes in the hamper, taking dishes to the sink, feeding the dog, Picking up etc.
We got the piggy bank below and they save their money in that. For now we let our kids just spend the money but when they are a bit older, we will teach them the save, spend, give principles.
Let me just say I have NEVER seen the level of excitement my kids have than when they purchase their own toy with their own money. They get so happy and proud of themselves for working hard to be able to get something she wanted.
This helps them be grateful for presents and toys they do get from others because they learn the value of things and that someone worked hard to get enough money to buy it for them.
5- Serve Others-
This could be something small like making cookies or drawing a picture for Grandma, to something large like going to serve food at a soup kitchen.
Doing something kind for someone else is just a way to show children that sometimes actions speak louder than words. To show we love and appreciate someone, we can show them by doing an act of service or kindness.
Helping those who are less fortunate is one of the single most important ways to teach children (and adults) gratitude. Unless exposed to situations where people have less, children simply will not know that they are blessed to have the things that they have because not everyone has them. So do a toy drive at Christmas, help out at a food bank, or do a service project as a family.
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