6 Ways to Teach Your Kids How to Be Grateful
Updated: Jul 29
We’ve all gone to the store, heard that one screaming child, and searched for the source. And with that, we’ve formed our opinion: “If that were my child!” Those opinions, thoughts, and feelings all stem from how we were raised, and how we want (or have) raised our own children. It all comes from the process of gratefulness and respect. If you are curious, need advice, or just want to know a different perspective, this article will show you six ways to teach your kids how to be grateful on a deeper level.
Deeper Than Reciprocation
I asked parents about how they teach gratitude to their kids. About 90 percent of them said that they teach their children to say “thank you” when they have received something, which is a noticed behavior. It’s important to teach our children to be thankful, but gratefulness goes much deeper than reciprocation; being thankful is just one of the six ways to be deeply grateful. Four of the other ways are more in-depth than noticed behavior.
It's a Process
We have to teach our children to think of the big picture, how to step back, how to feel, and what to do about it.
Notice: Since saying “thank you” is a noticed behavior. It’s important to not only say “thank you” when receiving something, but notice all that we already have to be grateful for!
Think: This is a very important step! What did you do to deserve this gift? Why did you receive it? Did you earn the gift because of something you did? Answering these questions will teach your kids how to perceive gifts and are more likely to be grateful for them because they thought of why they received a gift.
Feel: Feelings are so important when it comes to gratefulness! How did receiving a gift make you feel? Happy? Good! Be grateful for that happiness. Invoking positive feelings with appreciation, receiving gifts, and noticing all that children have to be grateful for helps them understand gratitude. It teaches children how to connect positive feelings with receiving gifts and will enforce good behavior.
Do: Your kids have noticed all that they have! They have thought about it and know how they feel about it. Next is what they do about it! Does the feeling of receiving this gift make your kids want to share their happiness or motivate gratitude overall? It teaches them to connect their positive experiences with other people and the world; take that gratefulness and appreciate it and understand it.
Wrapping It Up
We now know that the five of the six ways to teach our children to be grateful are: saying “thank you”, noticing all that they have, thinking about why they received the gift, knowing how the gift made them feel, and what they do with the gift (the knowledge of appreciation).
The last step of the six is the act after learning true gratefulness: to teach positive feelings and paying those acts and feelings forward. Once our children are grateful and know how they feel, it is important for them to take those feelings, knowledge, and kind acts and pay it forward.
It’s a domino effect and can influence others to be grateful as well. By teaching your children these six ways on how to be grateful, you’re giving them the tools to “deeply” receive their gifts. You’re teaching them to be grateful for everything, both old and new! Gratefulness goes a long way.
Even though it's only August, the holidays will be here before you know it. View our guide on how to teach gratitude to your kids during the greedy season!