How To Deal With An Ungrateful Child [Top 4 Ways]

Good health, a warm place to sleep, delicious food on the table, and unconditional love. What do all of these things have in common? They are aspects of our lives that we many times take for granted when really we should be thankful for them! However, counting our blessings seems to be much easier as an adult than as a kid. Thankfully, there are effective methods for dealing with an ungrateful child and helping them to realize that these privileges are rare and wonderful! 

Gratitude and thankfulness are feelings that have to be learned. In order for your kids to master these emotions, they need to be taught the significance of compassion and be given a glimpse of the world that isn’t a part of their reality. Volunteering is a fantastic way to accomplish this! Moreover, take time to talk about their emotions.

By having an open dialogue, you can help them understand feelings and scenarios that they have never experienced before. Finally, positive reinforcement is an effective way to bolster compassionate and selfless actions.  This process takes time and patience, but in the end your child will be a better person for it! 

The Top Four Ways To Handle An Ungrateful Child

1.Teach Your Child The Importance Of Empathy

Atticus Finch said it best. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” Harper Lee’s award-winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird teaches many lessons, including the importance of empathy. 

This is one’s ability to take a step back and understand what another person is going through in order to support or comfort them in a time of need. Not only does this concept allow someone to build positive connections with others, but it provides them with a better perspective of the world.

We are not all blessed with the same advantages as our neighbors or friends. Therefore, we need to teach our children to have compassion towards others no matter what their background may be and to seek insight before casting judgment. This life lesson can quickly shine a light on what is truly meaningful in life, helping to shed their ungratefulness. 

One of the best methods for imparting this sage wisdom is to regularly talk to your kids about their feelings. This allows them to better comprehend different emotions and can make difficult topics easier to discuss. 

Next, find books that impart beneficial messages throughout the text. Read them as a family and take time to have conversations about the meaning behind the words. Finally, be a good role model. Show kindness to others, be sympathetic when something goes wrong and use encouraging and uplifting language. Before long, your kids will begin to follow suit and become the little ladies and gentlemen you were hoping to raise! 

2.Show The Significance Of Giving Back To Your Ungrateful Child

Being kind is one of the best gifts that you can give to someone. By helping another human being, you spread joy and build lasting relationships. Moreover, you also get a chance to see what true gratitude looks like and the significance of the phrase “thank you”

If your child is on the receiving end of a grateful comment, it is more likely that they will convey the same sentiment when they experience a moment of kindness. It is important to remember that human development is based on the practice of imitation. We all know that children are like sponges. As the saying goes, “monkey see, monkey do”. Thus, it is imperative that you start showcasing beneficial actions and positive behaviors as early as possible. 

Begin by teaching your kids to mind their manners by saying please and thank you at a young age. Reinforce the benefits of sharing their toys and waiting their turn. Then as they begin to reach their teenage years, take them to volunteer at various non-profits. Consider visiting sick children at the hospital, serving food at a soup kitchen, or helping your elderly neighbor with their yard. Another way for them to help others is by donating their old toys and clothes to those less fortunate. 

These activities will show your children a different view of society and some of the struggles that people face. While we never want to ruin our children’s innocence, we also want to avoid them developing a sense of entitlement. Volunteering can have benefits threefold — your child will help someone in need, it will provide them with a bit of a reality check and it will actually improve their mental well-being!

Finally, make sure to instill a sense of responsibility in your child. Assigning daily chores to help with the upkeep of the household can be extremely beneficial. Understanding the time and effort it takes to complete these tasks can make them better appreciate the things you do for them as well as what others do in the community!

3.Acknowledge Positive Actions

Pavlov’s dog taught us that just the idea of a reward will facilitate action. This basically means that by using positive reinforcement regularly, you can program your kids to repeat certain behaviors. Hence, if your child says “Thank you for dinner mommy!”, respond with “I love how compassionate and kind you are! That makes me proud!”.

Regularly recognizing your child’s acts of gratitude and appreciation will allow these habits to become second nature. However, this theory also applies to negative behaviors. Therefore, if bad behavior is not consistently reprimanded, they are likely to repeat the action. For example, by not acknowledging the problem with your child’s ungrateful attitude, you are telling them that this frame of mind is acceptable.

This goes for children of all ages. Whether your kids are five or twenty-five, by telling them that you are proud of them for the selfless behavior they display, you are instilling in them a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, will motivate them to continue with these types of actions.

Mind Your Tone When Dealing With An Ungrateful Child

Something to note — YOUR attitude and phrasing in these situations can make or break the effectiveness of the message you are trying to send. You want to convey why this is inappropriate and how to remedy it. Thus, when your ungrateful child acts out, shouting “Stop with the bratty attitude and eat your food!”, you are just escalating the situation. 

A better method is to calmly, but firmly, say “I would appreciate it if you would not treat your Uncle that way. He worked hard to make us this meal and you are hurting his feelings. How would it make you feel if I said that to you?” 

Not only does this point out the issue with the action, but it creates a conversation. Many times, young children don’t understand what they did wrong. Breaking it down lets them better comprehend the problem. Furthermore, discussion can help them to recognize their errors and better handle future situations. 

However, if it is a teenage or adult child acting out, the comment would change to “Please do no treat others in a way you would not want to be treated. Is there something else bothering you?”. This still leads to a constructive conversation, but it also avoids belittling them, which could escalate the behavior.

4.Give Experiences, Not Gifts

MORE! This four-letter word can have a powerful impact when it comes to gratitude. We want to teach our kids the importance of giving and gifts are a way to do that. However, if you always indulge your children with unnecessary presents and trinkets, there is a chance that over time, they will become greedy and unappreciative of their current belongings. 

You are much better off planning a fun trip for the whole family! If a vacation is not in the budget, then consider purchasing bikes so that you can be active together. Or sign up for a mother-daughter pottery class and set up a time to go to the nature reserve. For adult children, take them to a nice dinner or go on a day trip to a winery! Experiences increase happiness and enhance relationships! They also provide opportunities for conversation and growth.

In fact, researchers have found that “When recipients receive an experience, regardless of whether they share in that experience with the gift-giver, they feel more connected to the gift-giver as a result of it, compared to receiving a material gift.”

Don’t let your children become dependent on material things. Rather build strong connections with them by spending quality time together! This will allow your kids to learn valuable lessons like the importance of appreciating moments in life.

Frequently Asked Questions — How To Deal With An Ungrateful Child

What causes a child to become ungrateful?

Unfortunately, the behavior of an ungrateful child is many times inherited from the actions made by people in their lives. While unintentional, you may be a part of the problem. Children need to be taught that not everything in life will go their way. You can’t always get what you want. Moreover, if you allow your kids to live in a bubble, they will never know how good they have it, nor will they feel the need to help others. 

How do you discipline an ungrateful child?

First, explain what they did wrong and why they are being punished. Next, take away an activity that they normally do by themselves. For instance, video games. Then, ask them to find one item that they want to give to someone who needs it more than they do. Finally, for the next month, find four times that they can go and volunteer at a place of their choosing. 

This discipline is twofold. It provides punishment for the negative actions and a chance to learn and become a better and more grateful person. 

How do you deal with stubborn and arrogant child?

Stubborn behavior should not be tolerated. Give your child one chance to change their tune and if they don’t oblige, then give them a punishment. Your child needs to understand that the rules of the house and the family need to be followed. However, remain calm throughout the process and try to comprehend their perspective.

Conversely, arrogant children should be handled in the same fashion as ungrateful children. They may not realize that their actions are detrimental to the relationships they hold with others. Teaching empathy is an extremely effective method of changing their attitude.

Final Thoughts 

We all have moments where we wish that we had more and we covet things that others have, which are lacking in our lives. That is a normal part of human nature. What is important is that we are able to step back and appreciate the things that we have been blessed with over time. 

Teach your child the value of living life to the fullest and taking in every second. Give them experiences that they will never forget. Use positive language and express your emotions openly. These moments of vulnerability can give your kids opportunities to show compassion and appreciation for you and others. The best way to deal with an ungrateful child is to show them all the things they should be thankful for in life.