We’ve all seen it happen. A child is opening gifts when she gets a playset she already has. Rather than saying thank you, she shrugs, says, “I already have this,” and sets it aside before moving on to the next present. Of course, you’d like to think your daughter would never react that way—or would she?
Being grateful goes way beyond polite manners—a study published in the Journal of School Psychology showed school-age children who count their blessings are happier in school, more optimistic, and feel more satisfied with their lives in general. So often, kids focus on the concrete—what don’t have, and what they want. But always wanting more, different, or better creates anxiety and stress. Recognizing what we do have, instead of focusing on what we don’t, brings peace and calm.
Naturally, gratitude is a value we all hope to see in our children, but because feeling grateful doesn’t have cut-and-dry instructions—like, say, brushing your teeth—it can seem a bit trickier to teach. The great news? When you express gratitude for the awesome people and things in your life, you’re helping your daughter to value similar aspects of hers. It’s not just about tangibles. It’s those more meaningful gifts like a loving family, good friends, food on the table, and good health that matter. Many girls aren’t aware that others don’t have those things.
Follow these tips to spark the conversation:
At a loss for words? Try these easy ice breakers:
Being grateful is a feeling and awareness that develops throughout childhood and adolescence—so don’t be discouraged if your daughter takes some time to jump on the thankfulness train. But know that by setting an example of gratitude you’ll be helping her see—and truly appreciate—all the wonder in her world.