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Poll: 81% of parents think their children are ungrateful

By Adam Schrader
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Poll: 81% of parents think their children are ungrateful
As many as 42% of parents acknowledged in a new poll they're sometimes "embarrassed" by their children's selfish actions. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Most parents think it's a high priority to teach their children gratitude because they are ungrateful, according to a new study released ahead of Thanksgiving.

The poll, conducted for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan, noted that the holiday is a great opportunity to teach gratitude to children but warned that parents should make efforts to teach appreciation for what they have throughout the year.

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"Over time and through experiences, children will learn to be grateful for others and appreciate what they have," the study reads.

The study analyzed responses from 1,125 randomly selected parents with at least one child age 4-10 and found that 81% of parents agree that children today "are not grateful for what they have."

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As many as 42% of parents acknowledged they're sometimes "embarrassed" by their children's selfish actions.

Another 58% of parents "worry that they are giving their children too much," the study reads.

Most parents in the study agreed it was possible to teach gratitude to their children and 76% of parents ranked the topic as a high priority. However, parents expressed different methods for lessons in thankfulness.

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The most common way (88%) in which parents teach children to express gratitude is by encouraging them to say "please" and "thank you" or by writing handmade thank you cards. The study found that 60% of parents regularly give their children chores around the house. Other strategies used by parents were encouraging children to donate their toys and clothes to charity -- with 13 % of parents even encouraging children to donate their own money.

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The study concluded that parents were missing opportunities for teaching gratitude and emphasizing its differences from politeness.

"The most common strategy is having children say please and thank you on a regular basis. However, there is a difference between politeness and gratitude," the study reads.

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"To help children learn to be grateful, parents also need to emphasize why they are asking their child to say thanks. This can be as simple as taking time to say 'thank you for...' with a brief explanation."

The study found that only one-quarter of parents say they regularly have their child send thank-you cards for birthday and holiday gifts which "may be a missed opportunity to help children learn gratitude."

In a similar study from 2017, researchers found an association between harsh parenting and negative outcomes such as dropping out of school and becoming sexually active. Instead of expressing gratitude, children from households with harsh parents who engaged in yelling and verbal or physical threats of punishment were more likely to describe their friends as more important than obeying their parents.

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