How to Teach Your Kids to Be Grateful


Is the greater part of your day spent trying to please your kids? If it is, you’re not alone. As parents, we want to provide everything we can (and more) to our children because we love them immensely and want them to be happy. And, unfortunately, commercials and advertisements constantly bombard our kids’ minds telling them they need more and more to be happy. Most of the time, that “more” has to come from us.  So as a parent, we find ourselves caught between wanting to give our children more yet wanting to keep them from becoming spoiled.

Recent research cited in the Wall Street Journal says our children would be much happier if we didn’t give them everything they wanted. So here are a few ways to teach your kids to be grateful by giving them less.

1. Teach them the importance of work.

Teach your kids the value of work by giving them extra chores around the house or, when they are older, getting a part-time job especially during the summer.  Get organized with your own Chore Chart and share with your kids the 5 Reasons Why Your Child Should Work.  When your children earn money, teach them how to save, spend, and share wisely. In our home, as our children were growing up, each of our children had three mason jars for their allowance. They received 50 cents allowance for each year. So, a 10 year old would receive five dollars per week.  Two dollars would be placed in the spend jar. Two dollars and fifty cents was deposited into the save jar and fifty cents in the share jar, to be given to church.

2. Let them give to others.

When a friend’s birthday rolls around, avoid just sticking money in an envelope and signing your child’s name.  Instead, make this a teaching opportunity.  Give your child a budget to stick to in picking out a gift, and then go find one together.  They will learn that not every toy is in their price range, but a great one can still be found. If your child is old enough, let them pay for it with the money they’ve earned.

3. Have them help with dinner.

Even from a young age, having your children help prepare for dinner in their own way is important.  It can be anything from helping shop for groceries to setting out the silverware, pouring drinks to even cooking the food itself.  Whatever it may be, taking part in preparing the meal together is a huge way to involve your kids so they see all the effort that goes into it.  If your child constantly complains about having to help out, you may want to review How to Motivate Your Unmotivated Child.

4. Is it a need or a want?

More often than not, things in our child’s life can be categorized in two ways—as needs or as wants.  When it comes to needs, these are things that we should provide as parents without question—things like shelter, food, water, education, security, and transportation.  As for wants, this may include trendy clothes, a new car, or outings with friends.  Instead of providing my kids’ wants right along with their needs, Susan and I chose to make a clear distinction between the two by having our kids work to make money for the things they wanted. Of course, that was just our general rule of thumb. I can tell you that there were many times when we bought them things they wanted. By paying for things they wanted with their own money, our kids were able to enjoy the item that much more than if we had simply given them what they wanted.

Along with this lesson, we also taught our kids the importance of patience.

Do you have ideas on how we can give our children more by giving them less? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

For more help teaching kids good character, check out the free resources and calendar for Building Good Character Traits for Kids at

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.