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Sometimes parenting can feel like a thankless job. 

In the early years, we get up at the crack of dawn and give all day long to our children making sure their every need is met. We are thanked by screaming tantrums, food splattered all over the place, and even getting our hair pulled from time to time.

Later, we get to enjoy the teenage years when our children want nothing to do with us, let alone appreciate us. (Disclaimer: I don’t have teenagers yet but I get to look forward to this fun stage!)

So needless to say, as parents, we all want out children to be more grateful because on some level, we want to be appreciated. But the truth is, whether or not they show their appreciation for us, research indicates that children who are shown how to have an attitude of gratitude actually achieve greater life success. They get better grades, are more pro-social, and get more involved in their communities. Ultimately, the research tells us, they lead happier, healthier lives.

At the end of the day, what we as parents really want – even more than being appreciated ourselves – is to know that our children are happy and healthy. One of THE best ways of doing this, in my opinion, is to show them how to be grateful by becoming more grateful ourselves.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Model gratitude for your child by saying “Thank you” each time your child gives you a hug, does something thoughtful or makes you smile. With older kids you will need to be patient but trust that they will notice changes in your attitude, even if they don’t show any immediate reaction.
  • When the opportunity arises, demonstrate how to appreciate the simple joys of nature by pointing out to your child how much you enjoy seeing a beautiful flower, bird or sunset.
  • Ask your child to mention one or two good things that happened at the end of each day. Bedtime and meal time are great for this. This helps your child value the good in his or her life and focus on something positive before sleep.
  • Nourish yourself. If you haven’t already, check out the Getting Started page for some extra motivation to create your own gratitude practice.

Additional Support:

In their book, Raising Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono share scientific findings showing just how this particular trait can help children achieve greater life success. This is a wonderful work that is worth checking out.