Raising Thankful Teenagers

thankful gratitude teen manners
Frustrated at a lack of manners? Follow these tips if you want to have a thankful teen. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The month of November is all about gratitude and being thankful for all the wonderful blessings in our lives. But when it comes to our teenagers, we may feel as if they missed the memo about this attitude of gratitude. If you find yourself wondering why your teen seems to be unable to see the blessings in their lives, these tips can help you open them up to a more grateful point of view.

  1. First, Relax

Although it may not be optimal, it is very normal for teenagers to lack gratitude for the things in their lives. We have to remember that many teenagers still feel as if the world revolves around them, which may be annoying, but is developmentally normal. It is important to note this because it means that having a teen that is ungrateful isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.

  1. Gratitude is Learned

Like most traits, some people are inherently more gratitude oriented than others, but for most people, gratitude is a learned skill. Teens can develop their attitude of gratitude by learning to be more sensitive to other people’s feelings, developing the ability to be empathetic, and experiencing altruism.

  1. Role Models Matter

We learn how to interact with and react to the world by watching and modeling the behaviors we see in others so if you want your teenager to be more thankful, take a minute to look at how you are modeling gratitude for them. Think about how grateful you are for the things you have and about how you express that gratitude around your children. Seeing you cherish the things you have and hearing how thankful you are for the blessings in your life teaches them how to view the world the same way.

  1. Give the Gift of Giving

The holiday season can be packed with excess and the focus on making lists of things they want and dreaming about the gifts they will get can reinforce the natural teenage tendency toward self-centeredness. But you can provide better balance and help teens see the importance of gratitude by giving them the gift of giving to others. There are many different ways kids can get involved in helping others this time of year. Help them get involved and participate with them.

  1. Make Gratitude a Tradition

Another way to help instill gratitude into your children and teenagers is to make gratitude a habit or a tradition. You might encourage all family members to share something they are grateful for as part of your family dinner routine. You could also get involved in regular volunteer/giving opportunities through your church or a local community group. Developing these kinds of traditions will reinforce the attitude of gratitude all year round.

Taking a little time to foster thankfulness in your family benefits everyone, no matter their age. Research indicates that people who feel grateful are happier and more optimistic than their less thankful peers and gratitude can help decrease stress levels. As we head into the stressful holiday season, spending time focused on all the great things we have might actually make it easier to enjoy the less materialistic aspects of each holiday celebration.

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