Teaching Gratitude: Ten Ways

Gratitude is a virtue that is taught. We come into this world utterly selfish beings. At first, we only give in ways that bring good things back to us We are naturally thankful for good and pleasant things. But we may not naturally exhibit our gratitude in ways that relay our appreciation to others.

It’s our job as parents to teach this to our children. We spend (or should spend) much of our time repeating to them, “say thank you…say thank you!” every time someone gives our children a gift something. We are like a broken record because it seems that they will never get it. And this is very important. And eventually, they begin to say “thank you” on their own… and most of the time, they mean it!! But we parents persevere until then because we know that gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving throughout a lifetime.

Gratitude is what brings us closer to others.
Gratitude is how we show love and friendship and caring.
Gratitude is the gateway to contentment.

When we drill it into our children and more importantly, when we model gratitude by our own consistent behavior, we pass on the key to happiness.


1. Always say ‘thank you’ yourself.
2. Always point out the positive. Encourage positive behavior by expressing your approval through appreciation—“I really appreciate that you did such a good job washing the dishes”
3. Don’t just tell your child to “say thank you”, encourage them to look the person in the eye when they say it.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal for your self. And let your child know that you do. This sends a message that gratitude is a priority with you.
5. Don’t wait ‘til Thanksgiving Day to express what you are thankful for. Do this often, throughout the year.
6. Say Grace.
7. Publicly express your appreciation for your spouse. Kids need to know, feel and hear about married love and appreciation. Don’t assume they know you and your spouse love and appreciate each other.
8. When your kids do something for you, be a gratitude gusher. Shower them with appreciation. There is nothing more effective than positive reinforcement.
9. Always have them send hand-written thank-you notes after a birthday party or whenever they receive gifts.
10. Always say “thank you” yourself…Oh, did I say that already?!?!? 🙂

Gifts for Grads



  1. Stopping by from Blackandmarriedwithkids.com. Nice blog.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This article is ridiculous. “Black Parenting”? What, you have to be black to teach these skills to your kids?

  3. Gina Carroll says:

    Anonymous, I started to erase your comment. But then I thought everyone else deserves a chuckle, too. Keeping your silliness to myself is selfish!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    That was not at all polite.

  5. Gina Carroll says:

    Anonymous, you are right!! “ridiculous” “silly” are not kind words. So let’s just call a truce and acknowledge that teaching virtues to our children is good for everybody. And wherever you find words of truth and encouragement as a parent, even on a site that is a forum for Black parents, you can perhaps just accept them and use them for the betterment of all.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think anonymous is correct here. Gina, a true inspiration would have been for you to say that these skills are for “all” races and ethnic backgrounds….not specifically black.

  7. Gina Carroll says:

    I just re-read my entire article again and nowhere have I limited this discussion to only Black folks. However, this cite IS a forum for the exchange of information among black parents. But I linked the teen blog to this article PRECISELY because it applies to all.

    If the forum is disturbing to you, perhaps you can explore the site and see that there are some pressing issues unique to the Black experience.In your exploration, you will find lots that applies to everyone as well. Isn’t free speech in America great!! We can both share and celebrate our uniquenesses and commonalites all at the same time.

  8. This is a GREAT post. I like every bit of it.

  9. Hmmmm…I think the “Anonymous” posts are missing something here…The article is “ProActive BLACK Parenting”…Unfortunately, it's not a “ONE SIZE FITS ALL RACES” proposition. There is no UNIVERSAL solution. Anonymous, PLEASE read (then re-read) “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson. Although it was written over 75 years ago, it is amazingly relevant (and even prophetic). Instead of “attacking” this article, try using some “constuctive criticism”…it's much more palatable…or maybe even try offering some suggestions. By the way, just because we may disagree, it doesn't necessarily make me your enemy. <----interesting concept!

  10. I love the article…may I add a little something I’ve learned over the last couple years? “Teaching Gratitude” is a two-way street! We certainly emphasize teaching our children to be grateful…to say “Please!” and “Thank you!”…but what about the endorphin-releasing pleasures associated with the conscious act of GIVING and HEARING someone say “THANK YOU!” It’s not always giving “things of value”…sometmes it is just providing “services”, like helping put away the groceries,or helping a little old lady find her cat. Things we often refer to as “kindness”. I firmly believe that “giving” is one of the missing variables in the equation for success. It needs to be INCLUDED!

  11. Gina Carroll says:

    Nubian Hands, I appreciate your comments–all of them—even the one you took back!! 🙂

  12. Sorry, Gina…I had a little trouble posting…and I didn’t want to appear redundant.

  13. Love this article. Thanks for posting. It’s so important in this age of instant gratification to teach our children the importance of gratitude! I’m especially loving the sentence, “gratitude is the gateway to contentment.”

  14. I love this post. This is something that I try to teach our two every day, so thank you for sharing the tips.

    Following from MBC.

  15. This was a great post!! I'm always reminding my kids to use their manners…oh, and the handwritten thank-you notes after receiving a gift is a MUST in my family!!

    Thanks for the follow! I'm following your lovely blog too!

  16. What a great reminder for teaching children gratitude and manners!

    I am following you after finding you on MBC…please check me out too!

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