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Teaching Kids Gratitude

Why Gratitude Is Important

The strategy: Explain why it's important to be grateful when someone helps you out. "Kids sometimes have the belief that people 'should' do things for them," says Froh, "so it's helpful to point out that people's kind deeds are often done out of the goodness of their hearts."

Will is immersed in a big homework project, and I'm helping him. We finish up at about 10:30 p.m. We're both exhausted. "You know, Will, you could say thank you," I peevishly blurt out. "Thanks, Mom," he replies sarcastically.

I want to blow up, but I bite my tongue. When I tell Froh about it, he says, "It's important to help kids understand the cost to the person who helped them and the benefit to themselves." On his suggestion, the next day I say to Will, "I was disappointed you didn't seem more grateful after I helped you with your homework. I could have been doing other things during that time -- and it would have taken you even longer if I hadn't helped."

Will, to his credit, gets it: "Sorry, Mom," he says. "I am grateful. I was just being a jerk because I was tired."

Wow! I'm blown away. I can't believe how well that worked.

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