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10 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Grateful

7 Comments
by All Pro Dad

I couldn’t believe my ears. Eleven months before my wife and I surprised our kids with an amazing Christmas gift. We gave them Disney annual passes. They flipped out, and we had a blast. However, in the eleventh month of that annual pass we told our kids we were going to Disney. My son’s response, “Disney again? Do we have to?” I couldn’t believe it. I explained to both my kids that going to Disney at all was a privilege many kids would never get the chance to do at all, let alone multiple times in a year. It was an opportunity to explain to them how important it is to be grateful. That was the last time I heard either of them complain. We let our passes expire a month later without renewing and my kids talk about how much they miss it.

Gratitude is a talent and one that must be refined. We must not allow our children to grow up entitled or spoiled. Kids who are cut off from the richness of lives defined by grateful hearts, service, joy, sacrificial love and appreciation for what they have are very shallow indeed. So we need to teach our children to be grateful. Thankful children are able to enjoy the blessings that come their way, even if it’s not much. Kids who don’t know gratitude are seldom satisfied, no matter how much they have. But don’t despair—children (and adults) can be taught. Here are 10 ways to teach your children to be grateful.

1. Say “Grace” before each meal.

Rather than lose its meaning, gratitude habituated through practice takes residence in the soul. Don’t take anything for granted, especially food. “Thanks God” is foundational to a grateful life.

2. Expose them to reality.

It’s easy to live in a bubble created by media, and the veneer of affluence that separates us from the rest of the world. Take your kids on mission trips to Central America, poverty-stricken Appalachia, a storm-ravaged area or right at home in your community. Showing is more powerful than telling.

3. Be grateful parents.

Kids learn from us 24-7—we don’t get to choose that. So let’s make sure they live with parents who are grateful for what they have, express it frequently, and back that up in the way they live.

4. Do not spoil them.

It’s a fact—kids who have more stuff than they need don’t even like what they have anymore. When parents help feed the ungrateful habit, we sabotage the growth of grace in our children. Think about it.

5. Make them earn stuff.

When kids miss the natural relationship between work and reward, they also lose the connection between good things and pleasure. It’s tough to be grateful when things are acquired unnaturally.

6. Teach them to love God.

God teaches gratitude as a way of life. We can’t teach our kids to be grateful without involving the Source of all we are grateful for.

7. Make sure they sometimes don’t get what they want.

You’re the dad, you’re allowed to manipulate the playing deck for a good cause. Make sure—once in a while—the kids don’t get the cheese.

8. Teach them to serve others.

Drive a weekly “Meals-on-Wheels” route together; serve the homeless; organize a gift drive; share with those who have nothing.

9. Teach them to be generous.

This is the next step. Generosity is not passing along our leftovers. Generosity is giving on a sacrificial level. Real generosity costs something. Real generosity is a huge step toward gratitude.

10. Never bail them out of responsibility.

When children are not allowed own the consequences of their decisions or actions, they bypass fundamental lessons and fail to understand the reason for gratitude. If we think the lessons are too hard, they will never fully understand.

Copyright © 2018 Clint Hurdle

No copyright infringement intended.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar for trylife

    Michelle

    Christmas time is a perfect time to reflect and commit to teaching their children about gratitude. Parents would also benefit to be reminded to not parent out of guilt. Giving your children “stuff” to compensate for your lack of “time,” is a losing battle. Great article. All parents and children will benefit for placing this dad’s strategies into practice.

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    Claudette L Washington

    I raised my children to be grateful for everything, and how to share, we are better together is a great saying with a lot of meaning. Every day is a new day to be grateful for. I was brought up to treat others the way you would want to be treated. And never judge anyone that is not our job to do. Only God can judge. Respect and be considerate of others. And to be grateful for what you have.

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    Ashley

    Such an important part of parenting. And so important for all of us to remember with our Heavenly Father also. This is a lifetime attitude for us all to have. Excellent advice and instruction, especially #2.

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    Marie

    Good tips….may I add parents and children sharing the reality of God answering prayers or how God is working in our lives.

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    Rose M

    What an outstanding list of positivies for parents. One of the most important things we can teach our children is to be grateful…for the little and big things. Secondly, is manners. If you start when they are young, these habits will be built in. They say that you can’t “buy class” but I think a lot of people who “have class” caught it when they were very young.

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    Brett

    It is challenging to raise a thankful child in America today. A good test of this may be to see how thankful our children are for the gifts they receive this Christmas? Yes, it is easy for our kids to be disappointed that they don’t have the latest and greatest electronics, clothes, etc. But, will we teach them that Christmas and life are not about the things that we have? (Matthew 6:19-21) The Christmas season is when we celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus. And our lives are to be lived to build His Kingdom, not our own. Great article!

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