Teaching Gratitude to Teenagers

This month is all about giving thanks, and we as adults tend to recognize how to be grateful on a daily basis because we’ve had to work so hard for it. However, teenagers tend to be in a more selfish state, so teaching them the concept of gratitude can be a hard one to tackle.

If you are searching for some ideas on how to teach your teenager to be grateful, see below for some helpful tips.

Start before Thanksgiving. If you truly want to show that gratitude is important, make it a daily tradition long before November. A great way to teach being thankful for the smaller things is to have a dinner game where everyone goes around the table and tells the family one thing they are grateful for that day. It may be hard to get going at first, and there may be some nights where a troubled teen feels no gratitude at all for that day. Let these slide every once in a while, and remind them tomorrow is a new day.

Show your gratitude. Besides only saying “thank you” for the every day things, talk to your teen about showing gratitude. There are so many ways to show gratitude. It can be a return of the favor or a small gesture to show that you are grateful for someone in your life. Don’t let it turn into a reward system, but show your teen how grateful you are for the good things they do by allowing them to go to a party or out with friends on a weekday.

Change your expectations as they grow. When your children are younger, you are teaching the basics of manners such as saying “please” and “thank you,” or playing the gratitude game, but as your children grow into teens, it may be harder for them to say what they mean to say, or they may be too distracted to always say thank you for the little things. Look for other ways that they are showing it in their lives such as volunteering, being kind to others or helping around the house.

Give credit where credit is due. Lead by example by talking about who and what has helped you in your life, and how you wouldn’t be where you are today without the assistance of others. Encourage them to recognize the people and things in their lives that have helped them with their struggles.

Teach them the difference between a right and a privilege. Explain to your teen that they have basic rights as humans, but that a lot of things in their lives are due to being privileged.

If you are still struggling with a troubled teen being grateful for their lives, and you feel they may be in danger, you may want to consider something like a teen Christian program or a teen military program that will help them be around peers that can help them to understand their own struggles.

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