How do I teach my child to be thankful and not entitled?

Published on November 20, 2023

Dear Mattsons, 

My kids seem to be entitled and have so much. How do I teach them to truly be thankful?

End the Entitlement

You can start with is creating opportunities for your kids to connect with those that might be less fortunate. Learning to give their time and resources to help serve those around them, serve people that have greater needs. 

So, start with that. There’s lots of ways of doing that, but it can be right in your own community. Start there because that is going to impact their lives in a significant way. 

What you are saying is, it does not help kids to be more grateful. In fact, it is the experiences of getting to practice serving others and using what God has given us, whether it is our time, talents, money, our house, our food, all the things.  

How does he want to use those resources to serve those around you? You can get creative around the dinner table; your 5-year-old will have some ideas of how to serve, up to your 18-year-old. And be thinking and brainstorming, how can we use what we have from our shoes to our clothes. 

And sometimes, it is a good idea to comb through what you have. Give your kids a chance to assess all that they have, and to think about other kids in the community. 

There are a lot of organizations that receive gifts and are able to distribute those to kids who are in need. Have them go through their closet, and teach your kids that sometimes when you are not wearing this and it is a good shirt, somebody else needs to be able to have this. 

Walk them through that, and you will have to be involved when they are younger, but when they get older, they will start learning that it is fun to give away. And in many ways, sometimes sacrifice something so that someone else can have it. 

You want to teach your kids to be good stewards and take care of the things they are entrusted with. But at the same time, the bigger principle is putting people first and remembering that you have an opportunity to help people. 

Be generous. This is a great principle as to how your family is going to show that generosity and for, you know, the right reasons. 

You have been given so much. Every person can think about blessings they can count even if you are in the hardest of places. Some of the most amazing stories are of people who found ways of acknowledging gratitude through the hardest thing. And we take it right from where we are, building on those principles. 

But I do want to say considering the example you brought up, is it is easy for us as parents. When you just want to be like, “seriously kids, do you realize how good you have it?” 

And usually that comes from our own stuff, our own family of origin, our own relationship with material possessions. So, there is two extremes that we fall on, right? 

Where we did not have much, and we get upset at our kids because they do not appreciate the things that they have.  Or on the other side, where we come from a shame language around having things, or we just take them for granted. Maybe we’ve never been exposed to the fact that there are people that live differently than us. 

But that idea of not just throwing out the language, that I have been tempted to do sometimes, of like wanting to shake your kids and be like, “do you realize? Eat your whole plate there are people starving over it.” 

So, make sure that you are thinking holistically about stewarding your resources. Pray and ask God, “how do you want us to use this?”

And watch God shift your kid’s perspective on what they have, and even start to grow their relationship with God and discernment on why he gives us what he gives. Be grateful for it and then be able to serve the community with that. 

Remember, you are the right parent for the job and Tara and I are here cheering you on! 

To get parenting advice for things you might be dealing with, checkout the Dear Mattsons playlist on YouTube!

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Live perfectly imperfect

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Jeff and Terra Mattson

Jeff Mattson (MA ORL) and Terra Mattson (MA LPC, LMFT) are Christian Parenting spokespeople and the co-hosts of the Living Wholehearted Podcast in the Christian Parenting Podcast Network.


After two decades studying and working in leadership and trauma-informed therapy, Jeff and Terra are bridging the gap between Biblical, clinical, and relational wisdom to help leaders live with integrity in the home, work, and community.


They are the co-founders of Living Wholehearted, a professional counseling and organizational development firm. Terra is the author of Courageous: Being Daughters Rooted in Grace and together they co-authored Shrinking the Integrity Gap: Between what Leaders Preach and Live. Jeff and Terra have skin in the game as they raise their two daughters just outside Portland, OR on five acres of old growth woods. There is never a dull moment in the Mattson home!

Read more about Jeff and Terra

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