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Teaching Children to be Thankful

A recent study indicates that people who have a thankful attitude also have higher levels of happiness and optimism and are less likely to be affected by stress or problems. If you want to know the specific steps in teaching your children to develop a grateful attitude, then read on.


“Thank you, Mommy!” These are sweet-sounding words from my three-year-old daughter every time I give her what she needs or what she asks for. She also says “thank you” to her dad and to others who does a favour for her. At a young age, I can see that she has learned how to be thankful for every kind deed done to her or for anything that is given to her.

A recent study indicates that people who have a thankful attitude also have higher levels of happiness and optimism and are less likely to be affected by stress or problems. As a mother, it makes me feel so proud of my daughter’s attitude. But mind you, our child’s attitude did not come about overnight. It took time for my spouse and me to instill this attitude in our child. So if you want to know the specific steps in teaching your children to develop a grateful attitude, then read on.

Lead by example. Make saying “thank you” a part of your habit. Let your everyday talk be seasoned with gratitude. In this way your children picks up that attitude. Say “thank you” to your spouse whether or not your child sees or hears you. Also express appreciation to what your child has done or is doing. Whenever we ask any of our children to pick up a toy on the floor or to hand out something to us, we would always say thank you after they do what we ask for. Aside from saying “thank you,”  we also tell them “very good”, “wow, my child is obedient”, “I appreciate what you did” or such other phrases to express gratitude.

Allow kids to help in household chores. This could mean asking them to keep their toys, cleaning the table, washing fruits or vegetables to be cooked, and many more. When you ask your kids to take part in the housework, they will ealize that it is not easy work and they will appreciate more their parents’ efforts for them.

Encourage them to say “thank you.” Explain to them that it is part of good manners to express thankfulness to someone for what they have given or have done for them. For little children, this takes time to sink in so when someone gives them something or a gift, lead them to say “thank you.” But this of course should not be done in a demanding way. When your children gets used to saying thank you, the next time you won’t have to tell them because they will initiate doing it on their own. Just like what happened when my eldest child for the first time on her own said, “Thank you for the milk, Daddy.” This really made me and my husband so pleased.

Make gratitude a part of your daily routine. You can establish this during the times when family members gather together such as dinner time. Before you start eating or while eating, each one can take turns in share something he or she is thankful for. Even the little ones can share what they want to thank for. Saying a prayer of thanksgiving to God can also be a daily practice with the little kids after waking up and before going to bed. Another practice could be writing a list of what you, your spouse and your children are thankful for. This is similar to counting your blessings and thanking God for them.

Write thank you notes. Whenever someone gives you a gift, always write a thank-you note which you can share or impart to your kids. This will make your children realize the importance of gratitude.

Learn to say no to your kids. As a parent, it is normal for you to have the tendency to give all that your child needs but it is unhealthy if you give everything your child wants and asks for. Your child might appreciate less or might not appreciate at all what you are giving him or her. So, to lead your child to realize that not everything she wants or asks will be given, practice saying “no” to him or her. Consequently, this will also make your child appreciate those times you grant what he or she longs for.