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How to Raise a Grateful Child

​In today's world, where kindness, appreciation and gratitude are often in short supply, how do we teach our children to be grateful?  According to Bridget Barnes, Boys Town Common Sense Parenting® expert, gratitude is something we can teach our kids to recognize in everyday things.

“As parents, we know that children learn through experience," said Barnes. “Our responsibility is to lead by example, modeling the behaviors of gratitude that we want them to emulate. We must help our kids to find opportunities to be grateful and talk to them about that gratitude while the experience is happening."

An attitude of gratitude can start small with daily practice to reinforce the desired behavior. Sharing is a great place to begin as children of all ages can learn different perspectives of gratitude by sharing. Let's imagine that there are two children, and one child has a cupcake. What happens next is a lesson in gratitude.

Let's imagine that the child with the cupcake decides to share it. Both children will experience a feeling of gratitude. The child who shares the cupcake experiences gratitude through the warm feelings that come from giving to others. On the other hand, the child with whom the cupcake is shared experiences a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy the delicious treat. Everyone wins. That's gratitude in action in everyday life.  

As parents, we must continually teach our kids to be grateful, even during times when the child is struggling, by acknowledging and recognizing them for demonstrating gratitude in action.  

 "Our job is to help our kids to get rid of  'stinkin' thinkin'' explaining to them why negative behaviors are harmful and not acceptable," said Barnes. "We can model an attitude of gratitude and demonstrate why it is so important by focusing on our blessings and all the things that are going well every day.  In short, we must practice gratitude in order to raise grateful kids."

Boys Town offers valuable resources for parents including classes like Common Sense Parenting and parenting guides, articles, videos, tools and quick tips on a variety of subjects developed by Boys Town experts.  For more information, visit