Teaching Gratitude

Dear Dr. Bill,

I have a question about my 5 year-old daughter.  She recently had a birthday, and, as she unwrapped her gifts, she kept looking around.  I asked her what was wrong and she said she was looking for the REST of her presents!  I was dumbfounded.  How should I deal with her selfish behavior?  And, how do I encourage her to have a grateful heart?




Dear Jodie,


Given that your daughter is 5 years old, I wouldn’t be too concerned about her comment.  5-year-olds are still learning concepts like unselfishness and gratitude.


Unfortunately our materialistic, consumer-oriented culture doesn’t help.  Kids are conditioned to believe that they are entitled to everything they want, right now…and of course they should always get the biggest and best of everything.


One of the best ways to teach your daughter gratitude is by modeling a grateful attitude yourself.  Remember to express thankfulness to God on a regular basis…even for the simple things like a roof over your head and food on the table.


Also, model gratitude in your relationships with others..  Make sure to express thankfulness to friends, relatives, and co-workers…and not only when they do something special for you.  Let them know how much you appreciate them just for who they are.  Express that kind of unconditional gratitude to your daughter as well.


Another way to help your daughter develop a grateful heart is by serving others who are less fortunate.  Perhaps you could volunteer at a local homeless shelter or look into sponsoring a child through Compassion International.


By the way, an excellent book that will give you more ideas on this topic is “Growing Grateful Kids” by Susie Larson.


Thanks for writing, Jodie.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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