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How to Raise a Grateful Child

This week, a lot of us are focusing on what we are thankful for. No matter how you feel about the holiday of Thanksgiving, it doesn’t hurt to take time out to consider what we are most grateful for. But is that something we should do just once a year? Or would it be better to live a grateful life all year round?

Of course, it would be better to be grateful all the time. And the best way to live that way is to be raised as a grateful child. So use the following tips to raise your own grateful children so they will have a lifelong attitude of gratitude and be happier overall individuals as the challenges come at them throughout their lives.

4 Tips to Raise a Thankful Child

  1. Model Gratitude Grateful parents are more likely to have grateful children. This is especially true if you share your gratitude thought process with your children. For example, if you receive a gift, express to your children that you appreciate the fact that the person who sent you the gift was thinking of you when they bought or made the gift, that they knew it was your favorite color or that you loved the theme, and that they took the time to choose something you would love. This gives children something to think about when they receive gifts other than just the joy of receiving a present.

  2. Talk About Children’s Gratitude When your child expresses gratitude spontaneously, notice them for it. Make it something they remember, and then talk about it later. Take the time, when you are calm and in a talking mood together and things are not so busy, to ask them how they felt when they expressed their gratitude. Why did they feel grateful? What about the situation made them feel thankful? It’s quite likely that their answer will sound a lot like the gratitude you share with them, which will show that they are learning from you.

  3. Enforce Expressions of Gratitude We all know that sometimes children say, “thank you,” in an insincere way when they are given a treat, given a compliment, or even given a gift. But it’s important that parents enforce this simplest expression of gratitude when it’s appropriate. As children grow older, they learn to automatically express gratitude when appropriate, but not only that, they learn to feel gratitude when they receive a treat, a compliment, or a gift. And thank you notes for gifts from out-of-town relatives or friends are especially appreciated.

  4. Repeat Gratitude Daily Gratitude is not only for receiving gifts. There are countless small things we can be thankful for daily. If you start pointing these out to your child at a young age and encourage them to find things they’re grateful for, you’ll give them an attitude that can help them be happier and more mindful as they experience the challenges life throws at them as they grow.

Grateful Children are Happier Children

Helping children experience gratitude for the big and little blessings they experience is one way to raise a happier child. But even the most grateful children are not always happy. If you notice your child struggling to feel happy or grateful, you might want to read Kelly Caleb’s new book, Now Cow Helps Mole in the Hole: A Mindful Tale for Coping With Depression. In the meantime, practice the above tips with your children to help them experience gratitude on a daily basis.

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If you’re a parent, therapist, teacher, or another caregiver of adolescents, we invite you to check out Operation Jack’s Village—an organization that focuses on a comprehensive approach to adolescent suicide awareness and prevention. Help your adolescents survive, thrive, and soar.

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