I was a wretched, ungrateful teenager. So many times my parents would ask me to do something – a chore or some help with a quick task – and I made a huge fuss.
© famveldman / Dollar Photo Club
“I have homework! Do I really have to help you right now?”
I don’t even know how my parents put up with it. I had zero desire to be helpful and put my own things off for a bit, and it showed.
Now that I have two young daughters, I have been thinking quite a bit about my attitude as a teenager. Will my daughters show the same kind of ungratefulness I showed? How can I teach them to be thankful now so we can possibly avoid the whole bad-attitude-as-a-teenager stage?
I guess there is really nothing that can prevent that attitude from happening, because most teenagers will be that way, but at least I can teach them and continue to teach them so that hopefully they will grow into grateful adults.
The Best Way to Teach a Child Gratitude
My youngest, who will turn two in a few months, is very prompt to say “Dantoo” after we give her something. Our three year old, on the other hand, has already started to forget to say “Thank you” when we give her something.
But saying “Thank you” is not the only way that a person can show their gratitude.
Every year for Thanksgiving when I was growing up, we had one tradition right before we sat down to eat. Each of us had to say what we were grateful for (and often the adults would elaborate on why they were grateful for it). That tradition has stuck with me. Even when it’s not Thanksgiving, I really enjoy talking with my husband about what I am grateful for and why. It puts things in perspective and helps me be more positive.
Saying what you’re grateful for is not the end to thankfulness, either.
To help my girls understand a little bit about gratitude, I want to go beyond words.
What I have in mind is something that will take a lot of practice and reminders at first.
I want to teach them to act. To be that difference in someone else’s life.
Because a huge part of being grateful is acknowledging your own abundance and being willing to share that with others.
I want them to say, “I have so much. Here, I’ll share some of my blessings with you.”
My girls are just toddlers right now, so I will have to be there to help them show their gratitude and make others feel more special.
Small Ways a Young Child Can Show Gratitude
Here are just a few small ways you can help a child show another person how grateful they are:
- Write a thank you note or draw a picture
- Make a treat
- Shovel snow or rake leaves
- Spend time being with them
In my opinion, there is nothing worse than an ungrateful person. While I would love to go back in time and try to be a better daughter, it just can’t happen. The next best thing I can do is teach my own children how to show their gratitude, and hopefully they will skip that awful stage as teenagers.
Did you go through a really ungrateful stage as a teenager?