4 In 5 Parents Don't Think Their Kids Are As Grateful As They Should Be

by Christina Marfice

4 out of 5 parents say kids today are less grateful than they should be, according to a new poll from researchers in Michigan

The season of giving thanks is upon us. In the next 24 hours, many of us will belly up to a table heaped with turkey and all the fixings, surrounded by loved ones, and give thanks for all the good things we have going for us after a dumpster fire couple of years. Except for kids, apparently, because the vast majority of parents say (*activate boomer voice*) kids these days aren’t as grateful as they should be.

In a new poll, researchers from the University of Michigan Health found that a whopping four out of five parents think today’s kids aren’t grateful enough. Those parents said they’re teaching their kids to say “please” and “thank you,” but that when it comes to actions that signal gratefulness, they say their kids are falling short.

This is despite the fact that nearly all of the parents who participated in the poll say it’s possible to teach kids to be grateful (so who’s failure is this, really, Karen?), and three-fourths of the parents polled said teaching gratefulness to their kids is a priority. The most common ways parents said they are trying to teach gratefulness to their kids is by teaching them to say “please” and “thank you” or by giving them chores. Only about a third of the parents said they use strategies like having their kids donate toys or clothing.

“My hope is a poll like this causes some parents to stop and think about, ‘Are we being purposeful about teaching our kids how to be grateful?'” said Sarah Clark, research scientist at the University of Michigan and co-director of the poll.

The parents polled all had children ages 4 to 10, and the word “grateful” was “purposefully” not defined — Clark said parents needed to bring their own interpretation of the concept.

Clark said “please” and “thank you” and helping with chores are good ways to start teaching kids to be more grateful, but parents should also openly discuss gratitude with their families, as well as encourage donating and volunteering. The holiday season provides plenty of opportunities for fostering more gratefulness in kids, she said.

“It’s never too late to start. Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season is a really easy time to gets kids started,” Clark explained. “It is what we call the teachable moment.”