Teaching Children an Attitude of Gratitiude

Grateful Not Greedy by Brenda Nixon
Just because greed is to be expected, it’s not to be accepted.

Yesterday we discussed teaching children to respect material possessions. To continue the discussion we refer to “The Birth to Five Book,” by Brenda Nixon. Part of her essay, “Grateful Not Greedy” is posted below.

Kids are naturally self-seeking. Our society focuses on acquisition, and while it may be more blessed to give, receiving really is more fun. So its understandable why youngsters aren’t grateful.

However, just because greed is to be expected, it’s not to be accepted. Gratitude is a matter of learning.

As a parent, the first and most influential teacher, you must teach your impressionable tot how to be appreciative. [As a nanny you must also teach children to be appreciative.] Facing life with an attitude of gratitude will help him be more happy and content. How do you communicate this valuable message? First, slow the greed avalanche right from the start by:

  • Limiting TV viewing especially during the holidays when advertisers target [children] as a way to get into [the parents’] bank account.
  • Setting limits on the number of birthday and holiday “wish list” items.
  • Reminding [the child] that this list is suggestion only.
  • Focusing on intangible wealth. Good friends, laughter, safety, and freedom are indeed welcomed gifts.

Second, you can live a grateful lifestyle. It has been said we are always teaching – sometimes we use words. Saying thank you to others or whispering grace before your meals can show gratitude. However, the most successful teaching tool is you. [The child] is a copycat and will act like you. Smile to show appreciation to the server who hands him a glass of milk; give generous hug to his teacher to appreciate her hard work at school; and write notes of thank you for gifts and kindness received. Your grateful behavior will teach your tyke to be grateful too.

Notice nature. It is easy to take our environment for granted. In these early, teachable years, encourage [the] child to appreciate the scenery that surrounds him.

Contrast [his] family with those less fortunate. Remind [the] child that there are people in your community who aren’t as blessed: families without homes and sad, lonely people without family or friends. It’s never too early to show gratitude for your family.

I like that Webster’s dictionary says of thankfulness: “impressed with a sense of kindness received.” This definition takes the focus off material possessions.

I believe that children who learn to be thankful early in life receive a permanent lesson in contented living.

The Birth to Five Book, by Brenda Nixon, Revell, 2009.

How do you teach children to appreciate all they have?


  1. Very good info the past few days. Thanks, I need to remember that being self centered is just a part of growing up and to use their faux as as teaching moments.I even told the older brother yesterday, "Don't get mad when she does that. Try to understand she is only two and not capable of understanding why we share. She can't think of how other people feel yet. But in a few years she will have to share because she will be old enough to understand."Then I told him because he is 8 yrs old he can understand other people's feelings and why.It was a great discussion. The boy had an "aha" moment. Just great info for both of us!Thanks,Allison, Houston

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: