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Raising Grateful Children

In today’s society it seems our children feel entitled, and at some point all of us as parents have experienced cringe-worthy moments where our child’s ungrateful attitude becomes evident. So how do you teach your children to show gratitude and empathy, especially as we prepare to enter into this holiday season?

Have you ever heard the expression “monkey see, monkey do?”

Modeling good behavior for your kids is probably the most impactful way you can demonstrate gratitude and empathy.

It’s important they hear you thank the clerk at the store and thank them for bringing you a glass of water. I know it can come across as the polite thing to say rather than gratitude, but it’s a great start.

Performing acts of kindness is another great way to demonstrate empathy and gratitude. I subscribe to the Marie Kondo Art of Tidying, and a couple of times a year, I go through my closet and discard items that are no longer bringing me joy. I take my clothes to the local Salvation Army or Goodwill that directly impacts my community.

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Having children donate gently-used clothes and toys to those less fortunate is another way of driving that point home. On the car ride, talk to your children about gratitude and make it a point to share what you’re grateful for. Even when you have a rough day or something bad happens, point out that there’s still a lot to feel grateful for.

UNC Chapel Hill recently explored raising grateful children.Researchers say there are four parts of gratitude: noticing the things in our life for which we can be grateful; thinking about why we have been given those things; how we feel about the things we’ve been given; and what we do to express appreciation.

There are countless opportunities to teach our children about gratitude. We just may not have discovered them all yet. Helping our kids take notice of the things they’ve received by asking targeted questions is a good place to begin.

Ask your child what they’re grateful for, why they think they received a gift, if they think they should give a gift in return, how they feel about receiving the gift, and if there’s a way they’d like to show how they’re feeling.

These questions can help grow gratitude and lead to your children noticing what they already have, thus motivating them to perform acts of gratitude toward others.

Before you know it, your child will not only be saying “thank you” unprompted, but they’ll also mean it.

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Kishia Saffold
Author: Kishia Saffold

Kishia Saffold is the owner of Kiddie Care Learning Center in Dothan and Enterprise. She has a Masters of Business Administration from Troy University and a B.A. in Communication from Alabama State University. She is a wife to Jeffery and mother to daughter, Kiera.

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Raising Grateful Children

by Kishia Saffold time to read: 3 min