Discipline Strategies for an Ungrateful Attitude

Ungrateful child
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Almost every parent has experienced a few cringe-worthy moments where a child’s ungrateful attitude becomes evident. Whether your child says, “Is that all I’m getting for my birthday?” after opening a pile of presents, or you hear, “I never get to do anything fun,” as you’re driving home from a fun-filled day at the park, you’re not alone.

While it’s normal for all kids to have moments where their sense of entitlement becomes evident, other kids develop an ungrateful attitude that shines through much of the time.

The good news is, if your child behaves a bit ungrateful more than you’d like, these discipline strategies that can effectively address your child’s mindset fast:

1. Gently But Firmly Point Out an Ungrateful Attitude

When you hear your child say or do something that shows an ungrateful attitude, point it out. Avoid saying something like, “Stop being a brat.” Instead, be specific without being insulting.

Say something such as, “Complaining about not getting more presents is ungrateful. Your friends and family were kind enough to buy you a gift when they didn’t have to buy you anything.” Consistently point out incidents that portray an ungrateful attitude to help your child learn behaviors constitute ungratefulness.

2. Work on Teaching Empathy

Kids need help understanding how their behavior affects other people so it’s important to proactively teach empathy. Talk to your child about how you feel when she says things like, “You never take me to do anything fun.”

Ask her to identify how others likely feel when she doesn’t show appreciation for their kindness or when she complains – or even makes fun of – other people’s kind gestures. Make an effort to show your child how to use manners and how to respond to others with appreciation.

3. Only Allow Privileges When They’re Earned

Showering your child with endless material items and countless indulgences will spoil her.

Kids can’t be grateful for what they have unless they’re given an opportunity to earn their privileges. Link privileges, like screen time and play dates, to good behavior.

Never confuse a bribe with a reward. Bribing your child will only fuel an ungrateful attitude. A reward system, however, will help her feel good about her accomplishments and she’ll appreciate her privileges much more when she’s actually earned them.

4. Take Steps to Foster Gratitude

There are many steps you can take to foster gratitude in children. One of the most important steps you can take is to role model a grateful attitude. Talk regularly about all the things you have to be grateful for each day. Express gratitude over things that can easily be taken for granted, like seeing a beautiful scenic view or having clean air to breathe.

5. Focus on Helping Others

Your child won’t recognize how much she has to be grateful for unless you show her. Make it a habit to take her with you to help a neighbor in need or volunteer regularly for a soup kitchen. Get her directly involved in helping to meet other people's needs.

Helping others in need will decrease your child's self-centered outlook. It will also help foster compassion, which decreases the likely that your child will be spoiled, or ungrateful.

When your child performs acts of kindness, she'll be more likely to focus on what she can give - rather than she thinks she deserves. 

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