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Ungrateful children: How to help children be more gracious

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This time of year when everyone is giving and getting presents we notice how ungrateful children are. This is an all year round issue that becomes very apparent during the holidays. So in order to help your child understand how to be more grateful you need to work on it all year round. What better time to start then the New Year. Make it a New Year’s resolution to help your child be more grateful.

Manners-It seems that teaching manners is something of the past. But teaching and using manners all the time is the first step in teaching your child to be grateful when others do things for them. Teach them to say please and thank you. Lead by example, show your child that you use your manners as well.

Expectations- Set guidelines on how you expect your child to behave. Let them know you expect them to use their manners all the time. Be consistent. Explain to your child about how you expect them to react when they get something. Explain the difference between when they are given an everyday something and a special gift. Talk to them about how it feels to the person who gave it to them when they react poorly. Children think mostly about themselves and they don’t often realize how their actions effect others until they are taught.

Talk about what you have- Talk to your kids about all the things you have and explain that there are a lot of children that don’t have as much as you have. Most children if they have never had to go without don’t understand what that means. Talk to them about how some children don’t have enough food for dinner or any toys to play with. Then have them name all the things they have. Then help them point out things they don’t name, like a roof over their heads, food to eat, TV to watch, bed to sleep in, etc. Make sure they are involved in the conversation so you know they are understanding what you’re talking about.

Value of money- Understanding that you can’t get something for nothing is a hard concept for children especially if they get everything they want. Helping your child understand that everything you get from the store costs money and if you don’t have enough money you can’t get it.

Less fortunate- Children understand things better when they can see it for themselves. Take them to a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Show them what it looks like to really be without.

Like everything else that is taught it will take more than one time of talking about it for your child to understand. Remind them to use their manners daily. The more you practice the easier it will become. For other ideas you can also look at PBS Parents “10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid” by Homa Tavangarrom

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