5 Ways to Encourage Gratitude and Prevent Bullying

How to help your teen feel less entitled


There is nothing worse than an ungrateful teenager. But nearly every parent has felt like they are raising an ungrateful child at one time or another. Aside from the fact that parents often contribute to the ungratefulness by giving kids too much, some of it is a product of the world that they live in. Kids today are growing up in a society that is extremely selfish and self-indulgent.

But you do not have to live with ungratefulness.

And you shouldn’t. Teaching kids to be grateful for what they have can go a long way in building character. Displaying gratitude also helps children appreciate what they have as well as makes it less likely that they will feel entitled. Grateful kids are also less likely to engage in victim thinking and bullying. Here are five tips to help your teens keep the importance of gratitude in the forefront of their minds.

Make sure they know the difference between rights and privileges. The United States is filled with modern conveniences that we often take for granted. And teens often do not realize that these conveniences are not rights. They are not entitled to have Internet access, a smartphone or even a ride to school. These are privileges. Another way to look at it is that your kids have a right to be fed, but it is a privilege to eat at Chipotle. Be sure your children realize the difference between rights and privileges and they can express gratitude for both.

When kids can express gratitude they are less likely to feel entitled or engage in bullying behaviors.

Remind them that gratitude is a choice. Being grateful requires your teen to stop and take notice of everything that makes life better, more convenient and more fulfilling. Set aside time each day to reflect as a family on the things that you are all grateful for.

Doing so will help make gratitude a daily habit. Then, when things do not go as planned, your teen will be more likely to be optimistic and persevere through the challenges because she will be able to focus on all the things she has to be grateful for rather than the things that are disappointing.

Look for the good in every situation. Finding the good in things is especially important for victims of bullying. When kids are bullied, this is a traumatic experience. But it does not have to be a defining experience. Encourage your child to look for the good in the bullying situation. For instance, did she learn that she is stronger than she thought? Did she discover that her best friend has her back? Does the bullying allow her the opportunity to help others in similar situations? The goal is to help your child reframe the bullying situation and be grateful not for the bullying, but for the lessons she learned from this painful experience.

View failures as something to be grateful for. When kids are taught to think positively about every situation and to find the good in it, they will be more likely to learn and grow even when they fail.

The key to being grateful for failures is all in how it is perceived. Failing at something means your teen stepped outside the box and tried something challenging. Even though she may not have been successful, she can be grateful for the courage it took to try. She also can be grateful for the learning experience and what she will do the next time she takes on something similar.

Be a role model in gratitude. It is very hard to teach your kids something that you do not put into practice yourself. That means every day you need to demonstrate gratitude for something. A parent’s gratitude over both big and small things shows your teen that being grateful for both big things and small things is an important and healthy part of life.

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