How to Teach Kids About Gratitude

Learning to say thank you is usually the first lesson most children are taught on how to practice gratitude. As a parent, it can be a real joy to remind your little one to say thank you for a gift or kind gesture, and experts generally agree that it’s a necessary step in teaching kids gratitude. However, when your kids reach their teens, you may find their sense of appreciation for all that you provide them (including the latest smartphone) is often in short supply.

While learning how to be grateful evolves with age and maturity, there are also many practical ways to nurture a deeper sense of gratitude in your tweens and teens that will positively impact their overall happiness and success. Keep reading to find out the benefits of expressing thanks and how your kids and teens can practice gratitude. 

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is defined as “the feeling of being grateful and wanting to express your thanks.” For such a simple definition, you may wonder why teaching kids how to be thankful can feel challenging. Shouldn’t it be easier? Well, it turns out that gratitude is a bit more complex than the definition implies. 

Research into the science of gratitude indicates that the ability to understand and express gratitude improves with age and maturity. As a parent, you have the power to help foster this progression in your kids.  

Why teach teens and kids about gratitude?

Today’s kids are growing up in a world where they have instant gratification at their fingertips—literally—thanks to smartphones with on-demand videos, games, and one-click shopping. The easy access to immediate rewards is something previous generations didn’t  experience. As a result, parents who were taught to “be grateful for what you have” may feel their kids aren’t absorbing that same valuable lesson.

If you want your kids to learn how to demonstrate gratitude more deeply, you’re not alone.  A recent U.S. poll showed that more than half of parents worry that they are overindulging their kids and three-quarters of parents think teaching kids gratitude is a high priority. 

Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your kids learn how to be thankful.

Benefits of practicing gratitude

The benefits of gratitude are greater than you probably realize. Kids get a lot more than a warm fuzzy feeling when they feel gratitude. Research from the Raising Grateful Children project at University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill suggests that grateful kids aged 11–13 years old are happier and more optimistic than their less grateful peers. Appreciative kids are also more satisfied with their school, family, community, friends and themselves, and offer more emotional support to others.

The same research also indicates that teens  aged 14–19 years old who practice gratitude are more satisfied with their lives, work to better their community, are more engaged in schoolwork and hobbies, and are less likely to be  depressed.

It’s not just the kids who experience the benefits of gratitude, either. Research on the psychology of gratitude showed that those who focused on the positive aspects of their life (versus the burdens), on a regular basis were happier, had generally better health and exercised more.

Gratitude in teens may also contribute to financial literacy. Taking the time to feel grateful for a monetary gift from a family member, for example, may help a teen be more conscientious in how that money is spent—especially if a grandparent wants to be updated on what was purchased. 

Daughter giving mother flowers

How to teach gratitude

Remember the definition of gratitude above? The researchers for the Raising Grateful Children project at UNC, who have explored gratitude experiences of kids from kindergartners to young teens, offer an expanded view on teaching gratitude. The team at UNC believes that you can foster gratitude by encouraging kids and teens to pay attention to what they have received. They have broken the process down into four parts:

1. Notice

This step relates to what we notice in our lives for which we can be grateful. Ask your kids to consider, “What have you been given or what do you already have in your life for which you are grateful?”

2. Think

The second step is for kids and teens to think about why they have been given those things. Questions to generate conversation could include, “Why do you think you received this gift?” and “ Do you think you owe the giver something in return?”

3. Feel

Next, encourage them to explore how they feel about the things they were given. Talk to them about: “Does it make you feel happy to get this gift?” and “What does that feel like inside?”

4. Do

The final step is what kids and teens do to express appreciation in return. Ask them if there is a way they want to show how they feel about this gift?

When raising these questions with your kids, consider the timing. Teens and tweens are often on high “lecture” alert, so it’s important to wait for the right set of circumstances to spark a discussion on gratitude. Certainly, you’ll want to refrain from bringing it up if you’re frustrated about their lack of appreciation. You’re more likely to make an impact if the discussion is a positive experience for everyone.

How to get your kids and teens to practice gratitude

There are many practical ways in which you can help your teen or tween flex the gratitude muscle. Keep in mind that it’s ideal to practice gratitude as a family, rather than singling out your child as the only one who needs to learn how to show gratitude to others. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Set an example

This is a powerful way to teach your kids what gratitude is. Tweens and teens learn through observation and when they see you saying thank you to others, they’re likely to follow suit. 

Point out generosity

Point out examples of people who are doing things above and beyond what’s expected, including them! When your teen takes on chores like unloading the dishwasher without prompting, it’s a perfect time to take notice and say thank you.

Put things in perspective

Help your kids understand that there are others who are less fortunate than them. This can nurture compassion for others and gratitude for their privileges. It also may encourage them to give back to the community through charity or volunteering.

Start a gratitude journal

Would your tween or teen be interested in recording things they’re grateful for in a daily journal? Or make it a family project with a journal titled What are you grateful for? Anyone can add to it. You can also be less formal and ask each person to share one thing they’re grateful for at dinner time.  

Shop with gratitude

Encourage your teen or tween to be thankful for the purchases they make. Whether they’ve earned the money themselves or it’s been provided, this is a perfect time to connect gratitude with something that they’ve specifically bought that brings them happiness. 

Teaching kids gratitude can be an enriching experience that has the potential to positively impact their health, school success, relationships and overall happiness. It’s well worth the effort to nurture this valuable trait. 

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

How Kids and Teens Can Shop Online Safely

Shopping online is easier than ever. With just a click of a mouse, families can buy anything from gifts to groceries, to the latest gadget—all without changing out of your PJs. While shopping online has its perks, you and your kids should also take precautions when making a purchase.

Before handing over your credit card details to your teen, here are some tips to help kids stay safe and protect themselves while shopping online. 

Online shopping in Canada

Even before the pandemic forced many of us out of  malls, Canadians were shopping online. In 2020, 82 per cent of Canadians shopped online and spent a staggering $84.4 billion dollars. Of those, 90 per cent were aged 15 to 24 years old, which just goes to prove that Gen Z are digital natives. COVID-19 certainly changed how Canadians shop, and it’s expected this holiday won’t be an exception. Last year, Canadians spent more than a third of their holiday budget online. 

What are the risks of kids and teens buying online?


Phishing is a cyber attack that uses an email or text message to get personal or sensitive information from the person they are targeting. Unfortunately, phishing is the third most common scam in Canada. That’s why it’s important for parents to talk to their kids and teens. Explain how a phishing message could look like it’s from a financial institution, an online store, or social media, and to be cautious of suspicious emails or text messages. 

Theft of data

Shopping online usually requires us to provide personal information, such as our full name, home address, and a credit card number or other method of payment. Explain to tweens and teens that theft of data and identity theft occurs online. They may be vulnerable to having their personal information stolen by cybercriminals who could hack into their account or commit other fraudulent activities, such as opening a credit card in their name. 


If your teen spends as much time on their P.C. as they do in class, you probably don’t need to lecture them about the dangers of malware. But for the rest of us, malware is a catch-all phrase for malicious software, such as viruses, worms, or ransomware, that’s designed to harm a person’s device or network. Typically, cybercriminals use malware to obtain personal information which they can use for financial gain. 

Fake online reviews

How many of us check the reviews before buying an item online? When there are near-identical items to choose from, that five star rating could be the deciding factor before clicking “add to shopping basket.” But, according to a 2017 report, approximately one-third of all online consumer reviews are fake. Kids and teens should be aware that some companies may encourage—or even employ—people to post favourable reviews online. 

Counterfeit goods

As online sales have increased, so have counterfeit goods in Canada—that’s according to the Better Business Bureau. Those top-dollar designer sneakers may be a knock-off. The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network reports that between $20 and $30 billion in counterfeit products move through Canada every year. That’s a lot of fake products. 

family online shopping

How can kids protect themselves when shopping online?

Here are some tips parents can share with tweens and teens to help protect them when shopping online: 

Purchase from trusted and secure sites 

Tweens and teens should shop at trusted sites. This means sites where the URL begins with “HTTPS.” They shouldn’t input their payment or personal details in a site that begins with “HTTP” only, as it does not have SSL encryption. Explain that kids should look for a locked padlock on any site they’re shopping at. The icon usually appears on the left of the URL in the address bar. 

Tweens and teens should also be wary of sites that may look similar to trusted sites, but the URL is slightly different (for example instead of, as they could be fake. Another red flag might be websites with typos or grammatical errors. Kids should also check to see if the website has a phone number and physical address before spending their money. 

Protect your personal information 

Kids and teens may not realize how much personal information they could unknowingly share online. Thanks to social media, casual acquaintances can know their birthday and even where they live. Remind kids not to over share details on social media sites or other places online. Similarly, if they’re shopping online and are asked questions about personal details such as financial data, they should consider the following:

  • Is this information necessary for my online purchase?
  • Who is collecting this information?
  • What will they do with it? 

Be wary of great deals

We all love a bargain, but if your tween or teen comes across an online deal that’s too good to be true, chances are it probably is. If an item is priced much lower than it normally is, it could mean the item is counterfeit or the website isn’t legitimate. Fake e-commerce sites are becoming increasingly common. To help mitigate the risk, teens and tweens should check out reviews of the site from multiple sources. 

Create strong passwords

More than a few of us are guilty of using the same password without changing it frequently (if at all). But, in order to help protect yourself when shopping online, teens (and parents) should create a unique password—one that avoids using personal details like a pet’s name. There are plenty of password generators available online that will help kids create a password that’s tougher to crack. Kids and teens should also create a unique password for each website, rather than recycling the same password for every online shopping site. 

Check your financial statements 

While there are steps your kids can take to help shop online safely, it’s also a good idea to check your financial statements after purchasing items online. If your kids are a cardholder or using your credit card, review your credit card statements carefully. 

What should kids and teens do if they think they’ve been scammed online?

If your tween or teen thinks they’ve been scammed online and they paid by credit card, you may be able to dispute the charges with the credit card company. Depending on the financial institution, credit card users typically have between 30 to 60 days to do so. Parents can also report fraudulent or suspicious activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) through their website or by calling 1-888-495-8501. Kids and teens should also change the passwords on any website or account that might be affected. 

How can parents keep their kids safe online? 

If your child is new to the world of shopping online, parents can help protect their kids by walking them through the process. But whether it’s their first time shopping online or their 50th, here are some things kids should consider before adding an item to their shopping cart:

  • Look for the security symbol, such as a key or padlock, on the website 
  • Create strong, unique passwords when buying online
  • Question “too good to be true” deals
  • Research reviews of the site or product before providing their payment details
  • Check for hidden fees, such as expensive shipment costs, before submitting a payment
  • Don’t click on suspicious links or text messages 
  • Don’t save payment information to a site

Parents can also set ground rules about when and how their kids can buy items online. Perhaps your tween or teen needs to share the details of their purchase with you ahead of time—especially if they’re asking for your credit card to make the payment. 

Looking for more tips to keep your kids safe on the internet? Read our parents guide to social media and how to set social media boundaries.

How Mydoh can help kids shop online safely

The Mydoh app and Smart Cash Card can help teens and tweens shop online safely. Your kids’ Smart Cash Card can be used anywhere Visa or Apple Pay is accepted. Mydoh gives parents oversight on your kids’ spending activity. And if there is any suspicious activity, Mydoh makes it easy for parents to lock the kids’ Smart Cash Card. Parents also have peace of mind in knowing that Mydoh is backed by RBC.

Learn more about how you can use Mydoh as a way to help your kids learn, earn, and save