Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Teaching Your Kids to Be Thankful for What They Have

December 17th, 2014     By Laura Buddenberg, Manager Training and Community Outreach, Mother of two

Family, Toddler

​This post first appeared on  Momaha.com. Photo from Momaha.com. 

It can be a challenge to get your kids to appreciate the things they have when they are eager for Christmas to arrive with all of the shiny new things.

Parents can help their kids learn and practice gratitude in two main ways:  1. Spend uninterrupted time together; and 2. Focus on serving others. The method you use for teaching children gratitude depends on the child’s age.

 

Parents of Tykes

Reward Your Child with Time and Attention Rather Than Things: Hugs, kisses, and time spent with mom and dad are what young children crave most. Rather than rewarding good behavior with a new toy, reward your child with an extra story at bedtime, playing a board game together, or inviting a friend to come over and play. This will decrease the value placed on “things” and increase the value of time spent together.

Find Ways to Involve Your Child in Service Activities: If you volunteer with a particular organization, take this time of year to explain to your child why you do so or have your child help you. It is easier to for children to put things in perspective when they are able to participate in giving back. Tell Susie that another family may not have as many toys and ask if she would like to give one to a child who does not have one. Encourage your child to have empathy and caring for others.

 

Parents of Tweens

Have Family Nights: Take time this Thanksgiving to turn off the TV! I know football is on, but it is important to have uninterrupted family time. Play a board game, plan your next vacation, have your tween help with Thanksgiving dinner, even it requires some extra time and effort on your part. Take some time to work your way around the Thanksgiving table and list what you are grateful for this year. Your tween will learn to place value on time spent together.

Get Your Child Involved in Community Service: There are many service activities available for children this age. Brainstorm ideas for service activities together or invite your tween to ask a friend to join him or her. Praise your children for their efforts to serve others.

  • Volunteer at a charity run
  • Help serve meals at a shelter
  • Visit a nursing home

 

Parents of Teens

Make Gratitude a Core Value: One of the best ways to encourage this in your teen is to demonstrate it yourself. The next time someone receives a gift take a moment to point out how lucky and grateful you are. All children should be taught to express thanks verbally or by sending a thank you note. Being grateful is a trait you want your children to carry long into their adult lives. Take every opportunity to demonstrate gratitude.

When You Get Something, Give Something Else Away: When your teen receives a new sweater for Christmas, encourage her to donate gently used one she may not wear as much anymore. Connect receiving a gift with giving one away. It is important for kids to be aware of how many people have less than they do, rather than comparing themselves to people who have more.  Grateful teens are happier than envious teens.

 

For more information about teaching your child to be thankful check out the book Who’s Raising Your Child? The book is available through the Boys Town Press.

Related Posts

 

 

Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town’s Class of 2019: A New Journey Beginshttps://www.boystown.org/blog/Pages/Boys-Towns-Class-of-2019-A-New-Journey-Begins.aspxBoys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Boys Town’s Class of 2019: A New Journey BeginsOn May 19, 100 girls and boys who learned how valuable they are as their lives were reshaped at Boys Town will proudly walk across our Music Hall stage. Dressed in blue caps and gowns, they will receive their high school diplomas.May 15th, 2019FeaturedOn May 19, 100 girls and boys who learned how valuable they are as their lives were reshaped at Boys Town will proudly walk across our Music Hall stage. Dressed in blue caps and gowns, they will receive their high school diplomas.Father Steven E. Boes, President and National Executive Director, Boys Town
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Mother’s Day Q&Ahttps://www.boystown.org/blog/Pages/Mothers-day-qa.aspxBoys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Mother’s Day Q&ATo celebrate Mother’s Day, we asked some of the “Moms” in our Family Home Program to reflect on parenting, motherhood and the work they do at Boys Town each day. Here is a collection of our favorite responses….May 10, 2019Parenting AdviceTo celebrate Mother’s Day, we asked some of the “Moms” in our Family Home Program to reflect on parenting, motherhood and the work they do at Boys Town each day. Here is a collection of our favorite responses….Boys Town Family Teachers Marie Ruther, Sarah Seaman and Amanda Forman
Boys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Celebrating 40 Years of Girls at Boys Townhttps://www.boystown.org/blog/Pages/Celebrating-40-Years-of-Girls-at-Boys-Town.aspxBoys Town: Saving Children, Healing Families, Parenting Tips | Celebrating 40 Years of Girls at Boys TownThe story of how girls first came to Boys Town is one of opportunity, courage and a milestone change to meet the needs of America’s youth. It started as a grand experiment four decades ago…April 25th, 2019Boys TownThe story of how girls first came to Boys Town is one of opportunity, courage and a milestone change to meet the needs of America’s youth. It started as a grand experiment four decades ago…Boys Town Contributor