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How do you teach boys gratitude?
So many parents today are frustrated by their boys’ apparent lack of gratitude. All too often, our boys come off as ungrateful, entitled jerks — and it bugs the bejeezus out of us! We’re embarrassed, we’re annoyed and we secretly feel like failures, because surely good parents would raise grateful, gracious children, right?
Well, the truth is that all children are self-centered; that’s part of being a child! As children grow, they gradually learn that they are not the center of the universe, and they gradually — very gradually — learn that they must consider others’ feelings, desires, and needs as well.
Science has shown a strong link between kids’ developmental stages and gratitude. Put simply, older teenagers are much more capable of feeling and expressing gratitude than younger younger. In fact, according to an on Harvard Health, “gratitude is an attainment associated with emotional maturity.”
In other words, your 7-year-old son is not supposed to be great at gratitude. He’s still developing the socioemotional skills that will allow him to perceive and appreciate all that others do for him.
That said, there’s a lot you can do to nurture the development of gratitude in your sons.
In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss:
- The limits of role-modeling in teaching gratitude
- How emotional development affects gratitude
- Why boys w ADHD may struggle with gratitude
- Developmentally appropriate expectations
- Gratitude’s benefits
- Creating a culture of service and volunteering
- Drawing kids’ attention to the many ways others hep them
- How wonder & awe create appreciation
- Concrete steps you can take to teach boys gratitude
- How keeping a gratitude journal can help combat anxiety and depression
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Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
Teaching Boys Social Skills — ON BOYS episode featuring ADHD expert Ryan Wexelblatt (mentioned at 5:06)
Parenting Boys with Maggie Dent (Part 1) — ON BOYS episode featuring Australia’s “boy champion” (mentioned at 22:55)
In Praise of Gratitude — Harvard Health article
Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids — Greater Good magazine article
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