4513 child thank you
Photo: Quick and Dirty Tips

As parents, you may things of numerous ways to teach your kids to be grateful. Let's apply our tips below and see how it works.

Be a grateful parent

What an invaluable exercise it is to tell our kids why we're grateful to have them! It goes without saying that we love our kids, and that we're thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs and so much more. When we tell them what makes them special to us, their self-esteem is boosted for the right reasons (not because they have the latest smartphone or because they're dressed fashionably). Plus, our example shows them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.

Keep thank-you notes on hand

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Greatful
Photo: Therese Borchard

Sadly, sending handwritten thank-you notes seems to be a dying art. But it's actually a perfect way to encourage kids to express gratitude -- and as an added bonus, it can make the recipient's day. Of course it's more than appropriate for kids to send notes when they receive gifts, but we can also encourage them to thank teachers at the end of the school year, Little League coaches, ballet teachers, kind pediatricians, helpful librarians, families who host them for overnights or parties. There are loads of opportunities throughout the year for kids to recognize and thank those who have done something special for them, and it's a habit that if they start young, they'll naturally carry throughout life. It's important that kids compose and handwrite the notes themselves, and we as parents can set the example by making sure to write thank-you notes on a variety of occasions.

Set a good example by saying "thank you" sincerely

The values our kids embrace as they get older aren't those we nag them into learning, but the ones they see us living out. There are countless opportunities every day for us to model gratitude for our kids -- for example, thanking the waitress who serves your food, the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store, the teller at the bank who cashes your check. When our kids see us expressing sincere thanks all the time, they'll be more inclined to do so as well.

Encourage them to give back

The old saying "it's better to give than to receive" has stuck around for a reason. It really does feel great to help someone else out. Depending on their ages, kids can rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, say, or volunteer at a nursing home a few hours a week. You might even make service a family activity. When kids give their time and energy to help others, they're less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted.

Ask Gratitude Questions

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Greatful
Photo: Theverywellmind

Once your child remembers to say “thank you” on a regular basis, it can be time to dig a little deeper to ensure that they aren’t just going through the socially-prescribed motions of saying “Thank you.” Start having conversations about what it means to be thankful, and take their understanding of gratitude to a whole new level by incorporating more gratitude components, as reported by Verywellmind.

Look for the Silver Lining

Help your kids see that something good can come from difficult circumstances. If a soccer game gets rescheduled due to rain, talk about the bright side of the situation. Say something like, "Well at least we don't have to be outside in the cold. We can play board games together instead and that will be fun."

You might also point out how to be grateful for what you had, even when it's no longer here. For example, you might say, "It's really sad our fish died but I'm grateful we got to have him for six months." Of course you don't want to sound uncaring and callous but you can make it clear that you can be both grateful and sad at the same time while honoring a loss.

Be patient

You can't expect gratitude to develop overnight -- it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. But trust me, you will be rewarded. Four years after the robotic dog fiasco, I can now report that A.J. is a grateful, cheerful boy who delights in making other people happy. Sure, he asked for lots of gifts this Christmas, but he was just as excited about requesting gifts for his sisters. "They've both been good girls and deserve something special," he wrote in his letter to Santa. Now I'm the one feeling grateful, according to Parents.com.

What is gratitude?

“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Gratitude is when we express appreciation and thanks for the good things in our lives. We can be thankful for things we receive, the people who surround us and the fun things we get to experience and do.

Gratitude goes much deeper than just saying please and thank-you, it’s a mindset, one that you can develop and cultivate.

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