Teaching Children to be Grateful

I don’t know about you guys, but one thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that toddlers can be pretty bratty at one point or another. Before I had kids, I thought that my future child(ren) would never throw tantrums, rarely have an attitude, and always listen to me and my husband. SHEWWWWWWW. So young, so naive I was.

As a mom, I want to give my children the best. Be the best for them. Be able to provide for them everything they could ever want and give them the best upbringing, but I don’t want them to expect everything to be given to them. I feel like I had such an amazing childhood – shout out to my parents – and I just want my husband and I to be able to give our kids the same. I want them to be grateful for what they have and to work hard for what they want in life.

My oldest is almost 4 and my youngest is 1 and a half, and those kids sure know how to cop an attitude and throw some tantrums. We’re still navigating the waters of toddlerhood, doing our best to mold their brilliant, little minds to grow up to be kind-hearted, independent adults. This past year, our 3 year old has found his voice and sure knows how to catch an attitude with us – and isn’t afraid to use it.

Recently, our 3 year old has been very expectant of things to be given to him when he wants them. For example: being able to get Smoothie King whenever he says he wants a smoothie, expecting me to give him dessert after every dinner, etc. As much as I love being able to do and give him things that make him happy, lately I feel as though he’s been taking said things for granted. He will throw fits sometimes if I say no, or expect me to drop everything to turn on PJ Masks for him as soon as he asks. While I know he’s only 3 and that’s very young, I want to teach him to be grateful early on in life.

One thing I’ve been doing lately when I start noticing him being, for lack of a better word, a BRAT, is I try to address it head on. I find the best way to really get him to focus on what I’m saying and make him understand is to sit down with him and have him look me in the eyes and tell him I need his attention. It may take a few times, but eventually I feel like I will have his attention. I try to explain to him that he is a very lucky kid, who has many people who go above and beyond for him. I’ll explain to him the difference between expecting things and being grateful for the things you do have and get to do. Honestly, as stubborn and hard-headed as that boy is, I really think he gets it. He will say thank you more, which is a big thing we strive for in our household.

Another thing we do in our house that I believe is an expression of gratitude for every day is a little dinner time tradition we’ve started over the past year. We try to sit down as a family and eat dinner together every night. Once we’re all at the table, we ask our 3 year old what his favorite part of the day was. He usually will turn it around and ask me first, then a lot of times will say the same thing I said because he’s a mama’s boy and wants to make me happy. It’s something that I think we all look forward to, and I love hearing about something that he enjoyed during the day and is thankful for.

Hopefully, these little moments will stay with my boys as they grow and learn. I want to raise young men who are appreciative and grateful for people and experiences and what they have in life. If you’re struggling with the toddler ‘tude, I wish you luck! Try out the favorite part of the day question at dinnertime; it’s truly something I look forward to hearing about daily, and it helps toddlers show gratitude for something during their day!

Meghan Culpepper
Meghan lives on the Northshore with her husband, Brandon, and their two boys. She grew up on the Northshore and happily settled back in to raise her family there. When she's not playing referee between her 4 & 2 year olds, she enjoys watching the Food Network and trying to actually learn how to cook (or bake!) Meghan loves being a boy mom and can probably win at any kind of Ninja Turtle trivia.


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