Follow up to Earlier Question: Teaching Gratitude

Updated on September 07, 2011
K.U. asks from Detroit, MI
11 answers

I had posted earlier about my 4 year old DD flipping out at the mall today over a toy - picking one out, then changing her mind, then wanting both, and me not giving in. It really got me upset because it made me feel like my daughter knows nothing about being thankful for what she has but maybe at this age that's expecting a bit much. She will go a friend's house for a play date and any toy they have that she does not have, she thinks is the greatest thing ever and then wants the same thing for herself. On the other hand, she usually remembers to say thank you and will even say thank you at random times for random things (like, "Thank you Mommy for getting me this big girl bed!" when she's been in the big girl bed for 4 months). I want her to grow up thankful and appreciative of what she has rather than focusing on what she doesn't have. Right now we do usually have the "What was your favorite thing today?" or "What made you happy today?" question at bedtime (she tells me hers and I tell her mine). What have you done with your kids (especially at this age) to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude"? TIA!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I teach by example. I think about this every day and am aware that all my actions and words are teaching my daughter how to be. I watch my own behaviors and words very carefully. I choose to live in gratitude for all I have.

My mother taught me the same way. She was the best teacher of gratitude, ever. If we choose to live in a state of wanting, there is always more to want. If we choose to live in a state of gratitude, we have everything we need.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

We say grace every dinner (you do not have to make it religious) and then we talk about the good things that we appreciate from that day. (It helps dinner conversation and also allows us to connect with each other. Also, goodness knows that in these times simple gratitude for a healthy meal is something we should be very aware of.) We have to come up with one good thing we are grateful for/happy about. After a really bad day at work, I sometimes have to dig deep, but it does help to have this tradition. When my older son tries to pretend there was nothing good, we push him...all with the idea of appreciating those things that we might not see as real gifts.

BTW I think at your daughter's age it is very common to go through this stage of wanting more. She does sound like a sweet girl.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

exactly what Sue W said! model gratitude. Talk about how lucky you are the blessings you have recieved

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I ask my 4 y/o "What do you think you should say?" if I think he missed an opportunity to be thankful. If he knows he will say "Thank you". If he doesn't know he looks at me puzzled and says "I don't know." Then, there is a teaching moment - I tell him what happened like someone showed some effort to do something for him and he usually gets it. Kids that age are very self absorbed and that is part of normal development. Your job is to point out things for them, make observations and teach them proper behavior. Years will pass until they would be truly, consciously grateful.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

turn of the TV and recycle the lego magazines and american girl catalogs. advertisements work way to well for little people!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Any opportunity where my kids should be thankful, I encourage them to say thank you and be appreciative. Consistency really is the key here. It's normal for kids your daughter's age to act that way. Take advantage of every teachable moment and your daughter will learn to be thankful. My kids are all appreciative and I remember wondering if they'd ever be thankful. It takes a lot of time and practice. But those who don't teach their kids end up having these issues later on and it's more annoying than it is when they're little. You're doing a great job! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

This is what we do for our girls (4 & 7), we do not accept birthday gifts at "friends" parties. What we did when they were younger, is we would do book exchange at their birthday party with new books. Then last year there were 2 families in our school that lost their houses within days of each other due to fire. I took my daughters by the houses and showed them what a fire does to a house. We donated cash to the family and explained why. At her next birthday, she choose to donate to a local charity for "boy and girls that do not have things like she does" (her words). Now that has become a theme in our family and friends love to donate at our parties. The charity is happy to write a quick letter with all the kids names on there thanking them and I send copies to all of them. They think it's "so cool" to help others.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I don't really think they did at that age. Perhaps they are not old enough to grasp the concept. What I have always done is be thankful for everything I have. My kids see how I live my life and that is how they live their lives. I never really gave them any verbal lessons in life. I guess because my parents were do as I say not as I do kinda parents. It just felt hollow.

All my kids have turned out thankful. They are happy they have so much but content when they have less. It is human nature to want things you do not have it is when it effects your happiness that is a problem. I guess that is my take on it, be content with what you have.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I've been meaning to post this same question! My 3.5 year old son is always focusing on what's next/what others have/what he doesn't have instead of appreciating what he DOES have. I'd like him to be grateful for whatever it is, be it toy, snack, shirt, etc. and not wish for something else or plan for the next thing. Like your daughter, he is gracious and says thank you at the right times. But it seems like he can't enjoy what he has b/c he is too focused on what he doesn't or what he may be missing. I feel like he is unhappy b/c he can't BE happy in the moment.


answers from Williamsport on

Model gratitude. Discipline bad attitude. Talk all the time about your blessings.
It's normal for 4 year olds not to comprehend deep gratitude, but discipline can stop the bratty ungrateful stuff until the lesson takes hold on a deeper level.



answers from Cleveland on

One of my favorite memories of my son is when he was three years old. I had taken him to a little festival, where he had "won" one of those cheap water yo-yos. As we left the festival, and were walking back to the car, he was in his own little world, playing with that yo-yo, and I heard him say to himself, "I am such a lucky boy!"

Oh, now look - I can't even tell that story without getting tears in my eyes. sniff

It was just so sweet. He was so grateful to have that silly water yo-yo.

I think that my children are grateful children because they don't get a lot. I believe in simplicity parenting. The only time they get anything is if it's their birthday (one gift) or Christmas (five gifts). If they see something they want other times, they have to save their own money and buy it themselves (and they don't get a lot of money, so that takes quite a while!).

So my children don't ever expect to get anything (except BD and Christmas). Which is why they are grateful for what they DO get.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions