Story at a glance

  • “Many parents may look back to their own childhood and, in comparison, wonder if they are giving their child too much in the way of material things,” Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, said.
  • More than half of parents polled, 58 percent, said they are concerned they are giving their children too much.
  • Forty-two percent said they sometimes are “embarrassed by how selfish their child acts.”

Thanksgiving is a time when Americans across the country gather together with friends and family to show gratitude for all they have. 

But with the holiday just days away, a new national poll suggests a large number of parents with young children believe kids today aren’t as appreciative as they should be. 

The poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan found 4 out of 5 parents, 81 percent, with children ages 4 to 10 said they agreed that kids today are not grateful for what they have. 

More than half of parents polled, 58 percent, said they are concerned they are giving their children too much, while 42 percent said they sometimes are “embarrassed by how selfish their child acts.” 

The poll included responses from 1,125 parents. 

“Many parents may look back to their own childhood and, in comparison, wonder if they are giving their child too much in the way of material things,” Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, said in a statement

“Parents may have watched their child behave selfishly, such as refusing to share with other children or saying they don’t like a particular gift,” Clark said. 


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But the research unsurprisingly found nearly all parents believed it’s possible to teach their children gratitude with different strategies to help them show more appreciation. 

Eighty-eight percent of parents said they regularly make sure their children say "please" and "thank you", while 11 percent said they occasionally do and 1 percent saying they rarely do. 

Household chores also appeared to be a common method. Sixty percent of parents polled said they regularly have their children do chores to help the family, while 34 percent said they occasionally do and 6 percent said they rarely do. 

Other less-common methods included donating toys or clothes to charity, saying prayers for what they are thankful for or writing thank-you cards for gifts. 

The poll also found about three in four parents said teaching their kids gratitude is a high priority, compared to 22 percent who said it’s a medium priority and just 2 percent who said it’s a low priority. 

“We know that gratitude is associated with more positive emotions, having strong relationships, enjoying more experiences and even health benefits,” Clark said.

“However, gratitude is not something that children usually acquire automatically; it needs to be nurtured, in an age-appropriate way,” Clark added. 


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Published on Nov 22, 2021