Inside this post: Learn how to raise a grateful child using eight key phrases that go beyond the basics of “please” and “thank you.” Learn how to make kids listen and appreciate all you do.
You put so much into your kids. You pour yourself out to connect with your kids.
There is rarely a part of your day when you aren’t thinking and planning something that is for your child’s overall benefit:
meal preparation, maintaining a clean home, laundry,
playing with your kids, paying bills, more laundry,
keeping a strong marriage, scheduling activities, and beyond.
Did I mention laundry?
It can feel like a real sucker punch to the gut when your kids don’t seem to appreciate much of anything in their lives. They take all the things you do for granted.
But more than anything?
Your complaining child doesn’t appreciate his or her own toys and belongings.
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How to Raise a Grateful Child
With polarizing opinions blanketing the world, this topic is more relevant than ever. How do you raise a grateful child when we live in a very entitled and material world?
Simply put, not easily.
Gratitude is a difficult value to instill in our kids because it runs much deeper than simply saying “please give me the cookie” and “thanks for the toys.”
While basic please and thank yous are wonderful, gratitude is about appreciating what you have when no one is looking. It’s about carrying feelings of thankfulness with you throughout the day.
So…how do you teach kids to go beyond basic pleasantries of “please” and “thank you” and nurture authentic gratitude and appreciation?
Try out these 8 phrases!
“Name your daily gifts.”
At some point during each day—doesn’t matter when—sit with your child and name the “gifts” received that day. These aren’t gifts received in a wrapped box with ribbon. These are things you are both thankful for that happened in the day.
It’s an alternative to “What are you thankful for?”
Daily gifts could be anything: people, toys, food, quality time, or random things. The point is to look at all the things we experience each day as a gift or present.
You could even get a kid’s gratitude journal and help your child write in it each day!
“Let’s have a ‘Do Good Day’.”
What’s a ‘Do Good Day’? This is a day once a month where you and the kids go out into the community to do something for others. This idea is inspired by my cousin who encourages her kids do chores so they can earn money for the Do Good Day, where they do things for others.
Sometimes they would make dog treats for the humane society; other times they would take things they bought with their chore money to the local homeless shelter.
Whatever you would like to do in your community, try to have on Do Good Day once per month to help your kids learn how to give back to others. This is a huge component of gratitude.
“You loved it when…”
Whenever my kids particularly enjoy something in the day, I point it out using this phrase. This helps kids learn to recognize all the positive things happening throughout the day.
You hug each other and smile… “You loved it when we had time to focus on each other.”
You can even make sleep sound awesome: Your child wakes up happy in the morning, ready to face the day… “You love it when you get a full night’s rest.”
You can even help them find gratitude in a seemingly negative situation! You make dinner and your child hates it… “You love it when we don’t pressure you to eat things you don’t like.”
“You are a helper.”
Kids are already filled with greatness. We just need to help them recognize it and draw it out. Saying “You are a helper” allows your child to recognize this quality, and when kids recognize positive qualities in themselves they will start to show you more of those.
(And psst…these printable chore cards are a fun and fresh way to get your kids helping!)
“That shows you care”
A huge component of gratitude and appreciation for others is showing that you care. Even when my kids do something routine like put away the toys or carry their dishes to the sink, I’ll say “That shows you care.”
I’ll say thank you as well, but I want my kids to know that I specifically recognize that they are thoughtful and caring. You can easily swap this phrase with “That shows you’re thoughtful” or “That shows you’re considerate.”
“What can we give or share with someone else today?”
One study found that “toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Further, children are happier after engaging in costly giving – forfeiting their own resources – than when giving the same treat at no cost.”
This could be as simple as sharing something with a sibling. Or giving a hug to someone. Kids can also give time or kind words. They could share a treat or they could donate a toy.
It could be anything that fits within your parenting boundaries, but the overall goal is to give or share something once a day.
“We’re so lucky to have…”
I absolutely love doing this at random times during the day. When I drop my son off at school in the morning, we do this before he gets out of the car. Sometimes we say things like, “We’re so lucky to have Adelle on the radio.” Or “We’re so lucky to have shoes on our feet.” Or “We’re so lucky to have coffee for mommy.” It can be simple and fun.
“Isn’t it amazing when…”
This is very similar to the one above, but I love changing up the phrases we use throughout the day. It might sound something like, “Isn’t it amazing when we are all home together for dinner?” Or “Isn’t it amazing when we get to snuggle on the couch together?” Or “Isn’t it amazing when we feel safe to share our thoughts and ideas with each other?”
Grateful kids are happy kids.
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” — Frederick Keonig
Kids don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes of parenting. Appreciating the big and little things may not come natural. In fact, I expect that it wouldn’t.
You may power through fifteen loads of laundry in a morning. Your child may not notice. Nor appreciate it.
But when you sit down at the end of the day to “Name Your Daily Gifts” with your child or he asks to have a “Do Good Day” with you “just because it sounds fun,” you’ll appreciate the time you spent deeply weaving appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude into your child.
Print this free printable
This post comes with a free printable to help you remember these Helpful Phrases to raise a grateful child. Easy-peasy!
Here’s sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist.
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Use it as a quick reference to keep parenting simple!
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