10 Tips for Raising Grateful Kids

iStock-113535362510 Tips for Raising Grateful Kids


Most adults feel like kids are way too entitled these days, or at least, the kids act as though they are entitled. How do Christian parents raise grateful kids instead of “entitled” kids?

It starts by recognizing that teaching manners isn’t necessarily the same as teaching gratitude. In other words, many kids are taught to say, “thank you,” but they aren’t taught to be thankful.

It’s similar to how someone can forgive someone, but it doesn’t mean you’d say the person is forgiving. To be called grateful, one must have an attitude of gratitude – not simply say the occasional, respectful, “thank you.”

Instead, the key is ongoing gratitude. Focus on the Family reports, “Research over the past decade has consistently shown that genuine, ongoing gratitude helps improve emotional, relational, mental, and physical health. Gratitude also develops essential social behaviors in our kids.”

So, how do you instill ongoing gratitude in kids in a world that increasingly teaches the opposite attitude? Here are ten tips.

1. Make Gratitude a Part of Your Family Routine

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Make a point to give thanks together as a family regularly. This may be as simple as giving thanks before meals and praying together. You may want to start a tradition where family members name something they are grateful for each day on the ride to or from school. When you visit with others, thank your hosts together as you leave.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Children and adults can both benefit from the habit of writing down what they are thankful for. Some families keep a gratitude journal where they all contribute notes about the things that they are grateful for, such as answered prayers. As the years go by, this will also be a nice journal to look back through to remember God’s faithfulness.

Some families have taken different approaches, such as keeping a gratitude jar or a thankful tree at Thanksgiving. With a gratitude jar, you write notes of gratefulness and place them inside the jar throughout the year. At the end of the year, you gather together to read the things your family was thankful for. Also, the “thankful tree” is a simple activity where family members add paper leaves with messages of gratitude written on them to a tree base.

3. Present Kids with Occasions to Express Gratitude

Sometimes kids need an extra push. For example, look for occasions when your family can express gratitude to others, such as dropping off baked goods to first responders or writing thank you cards to members of the military.

4. Encourage Kids to Show Thankfulness

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Colossians 2:6-7

When you are with your children and someone does something helpful, encourage them to be thankful. Beyond thanking others when they are “given something,” encourage your children to thank others for simply being loving and kind. Encourage them to thank their friends for being supportive. Encourage them to thank their teachers for helping them learn a new skill.

5. Give Kids Opportunities to Serve

It’s easy for kids to just accept that things happening around them, because they typically aren’t the people doing the work. So, give them opportunities to join in the work! They will be appreciative as they recognize the work others do for them on a regular basis. In addition to simple chores around the house, allow them to work alongside you when you serve in the community or at church.

6. Provide Gentle Reminders

It’s easy to take things for granted. Instead of fussing at your kids when you think they aren’t acting grateful, provide gentle reminders. For instance, point out all they have to be thankful for. In addition to physical possessions, they have a family that loves them, and a God cares about them.

7. Read the Psalms

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.          - Psalm 106:1

The Book of Psalms is a collection of poems and songs which are packed with messages of thankfulness to God. Read these scriptures with your children. Memorize verses. Pray them together. Sing worship songs of gratitude (many are rooted in the psalms) together.

8. Practice Contentment

Your kids can tell if you are happy with your life and what you have (a.k.a. “content”) or if you are always craving something better. In other words, they can tell if you are thankful or not. Take note of your shopping habits and complaints. If kids hear or see you never being satisfied or thankful for what you already have, they will struggle to be content and thankful themselves.

9. Help Them See the Needs Around Them

Many parents try to protect their children from the hurts of the world. This is understandable. While you want to protect their innocence, there comes a time when kids should become aware of the suffering in this world and the needs around them. Help them to see these needs in an age-appropriate way. By seeing what is happening outside their “safe zone,” kids grow more grateful and more willing to help those in need.

10. Model It

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned. - Titus 2:7-8

Last but not least, the most effective way to raise grateful kids is to model gratefulness yourself. Lifeway recommends, “Give more compliments than complaints to your kids. Specify the thoughtful behavior or gesture you’re complimenting.” If kids are raised by grateful parents, they are more likely to develop this trait themselves. Let them see you express gratitude regularly. Talk to them regularly about how grateful you are and why.