Something that many parents struggle with is to ensure that their kids are grateful for what they have and anything they receive. It is often hugely tempting to spoil them, especially if it’s your first child, but that can quickly descend into them expecting things, rather than being happy to receive them. It’s never too early to begin teaching gratitude in youngsters, and it’s a great idea to do precisely that.
Now, every child is different, just as you’d expect from little people, so what works for some might not necessarily work for others. With that in mind, you shouldn’t use these 10 tips as a procedural guide. Instead, try one or two and see how you get on. If they work well, that’s great, and the job’s a good one. If not, there are always more options, and we’re confident that between all of these tips, parents will find exactly what they need to make their kids appreciate everything they get.
1. Be Liberal in the Use of Surprises
This tip might sound somewhat counterintuitive as plentiful surprises make it sound like you should spoil your child even more. Rather than upping the number, however, you should convert some of the occasions on which you give them something into surprises to reinforce the fact that you’ve done something special. When something is pleasant but unexpected, it’s far more likely to be appreciated.
2. Cut Down on Choice when Appropriate
This is a tricky tip, as we’ve encouraged parents to broaden the choices open to their children depending on the circumstances as it builds confidence and decision-making skills. However, it’s up to you to decide when that’s appropriate, and when it might be best to make the decision for them. If too many options get discussed, they might fail to appreciate the one you settle on, especially if another one gets stuck in their head.
3. Be More Open than You Ordinarily Might About Hardships
It’s difficult for children to process the idea that they can’t have everything they want. It’s just as challenging to understand when they cannot go somewhere or get something. Most parents try too hard to disguise any issues they face. However, if your child is old enough to understand, it’s not a bad thing to discuss topics when times or tight, or when they were in the past. The sooner they appreciate the work it takes to obtain what they want, the more appreciative they’ll be.
4. Get Kids Involved with Those that are Less Fortunate
Even if you struggle to open up on your own hardships, kids don’t have to be grown up to appreciate the challenges of others. If you can get them involved with charity work or anything that helps other people, they’ll grow an understanding of the problems that life can throw at them and will hopefully become more grateful for what they have.
5. Reinforce a Positive Attitude
Gratitude is a positive emotion and positivity in other aspects of their life will make it easier to express it. You probably face difficulties of your own, but if you can put a brave face on things and look on the bright side, it will become natural for them to do the same.
6. Lead By Example
There isn’t a whole lot more to being grateful than saying thank you and being genuinely happy with what someone has done for you. You can’t expect your kids to start acting in this way if you can’t do it yourself. Hopefully, you’re a grateful person anyway and if that’s the case, you’re all set to share that with your kids and demonstrate the right approach to just about anything. If not, well, you have the motivation of becoming a better teacher to drive you on to becoming a more grateful person yourself – and that’s not an adverse side-effect by any standards.
7. Work on General Manners
Once again, you might already have a head start on this one with polite kids that know their ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the appropriate situations. By saying it out loud, this is more great positive reinforcement that hopefully reflects what they really mean. As the parent, you’re probably a good judge of whether they mean what they say, and you can adapt your approach accordingly. If they don’t even say it, that’s something to work on. If they say it and don’t mean it, that’s another area in which you can focus. If they both say it and mean it, we’re definitely on to something and you stand a great chance of reaching your goals.
8. Focus On Giving Rather than Receiving
If you can get your kids to prefer giving to receiving, you stand a far better chance of raising grateful ones. Kids are never too young to start making and giving gifts – the only difference is how involved you need to be in helping them. Given you’re spending time to help them anyway, it can produce great results for both of you.
9. As They Get Older, Get Them to Help Younger Kids
If you’ve ever taught anything in an amateur or professional capacity, you’ll appreciate how good teaching can be to reinforce what you already know. The same principle applies to kids too, so when they get a bit older, get them to talk to younger kids about being grateful. This could be their younger siblings, or friends and family. Just make sure they don’t get too preachy in their newfound position of power!
10. Switch From Physical Items to Experiences
One of the best ways to raise an ungrateful child is to overwhelm them with far more toys than they need. You’ll run out of space and money in short order if you keep it up, so switch their attention from possessions to experiences. Take them out for the day, go away for the weekend and give them reasons to be satisfied and grateful. Remember to take plenty of photos too, as younger kids may not remember the day but can always be reminded.