how to raise grateful children

The Secret to Raising Grateful Children

You may have noticed that children are naturally very self-serving. Believe it or not… being grateful is something that has to be taught. But how exactly do you teach this complex emotion? Is there a secret formula?

I cam up with the idea to write this during the Holidays because many families were preparing for gift-giving and receiving. The concept of gratefulness, however, is timeless. So, any time is an awesome time to learn how to teach your kids this important lesson.

How to raise an appreciative child? Lead by example

Teaching kids how to grateful is an ongoing process. And the first step is… surprise, YOU! Well, parents, caregivers, grownups… they look up to you. Kids really do learn what they have in their surroundings. They will likely emulate parental behavior, good or bad.

When was the last time you were openly grateful about something around your kids? Think about it! Be genuine and openly reflect upon your gratefulness in the presence of your children. It will stick.

Teach gratitude to kids in your daily routine

A good habit is to actively include gratefulness in your everyday life is to take a couple of minutes every day to share, as a family, the best thing about your day. Everyone will take a turn to share with the rest of the family the best thing that happened to them today.

You can share a big exciting event or a small, random act of kindness. It can even be something that made you smile for three seconds! This will sharpen their ability to recognize when good things are happening!

Giving as a way to raise a humble child

A great way to add perspective and depth to the concept of gratefulness in a child is to allow them to see good things from the perspective of the giving side. Involve your child early on in activities where they see you giving and being selfless to others.

Slowly involve them in age-appropriate activities where they are doing the giving. Not only will this allow them to see the effort that it can take others to be on the giving end, but soon, they will also learn to love the reaction on the face of the receiving party.

The spoiled child and appreciation

Every parent wants what is best for their children. You want to provide all the best experiences and maybe even, “everything that you did not have”. But won’t that spoil them? That is a very fair concern.

A good way to avoid this pitfall is to limit the number of choices that you make available to the kids. For example, instead of saying which one of all these toys in the toy aisle do you want? – you may surprise your kid with a toy you think they will like. And they will probably be ecstatic. But when they get used to thinking that they have the right to anything they want, they may start to feel entitled, or as some may call it, spoiled.

Marketing is targeting kids

It can be very easy for children to be exposed to multiple marketing schemes where they are made to believe that they need a certain toy or gadget to be cool or happy. It works the same way as for adults, except children are even more vulnerable to this, due to their inherent egocentric nature in the early stages of development.

As a parent, you can counter this by teaching early on the value of experiences over material things. Parks, museums, the aquarium, the beach – all great examples of experiences you can gift your child.

Thankfulness can’t be forced… or can it?

And last but not least… The good old “What do you say?”, “Thank you” bit. Help your kid develop the habit by making sure they not only say “Thank you”, but also calls the person by their name if they know it, and say what action they are thankful for. For example, “Thank you, Grandma, for baking cookies for us”. And no, at first, they probably won’t mean it. But if you incorporate all the other tips that I have mentioned above, eventually, that “Thank you!” will come spontaneously, and from their hearts.

Question time!  Do you know of any other tips to help foster gratefulness in kids? Leave your answer in the comment section below, I would love to hear from you guys.

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The Secret to Raising Grateful Children

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