How can I get my son to act grateful if he doesn't like a gift?

Learning gratitude is a difficult concept for young children to grasp. Being grateful requires a sensitivity to other people’s feelings, but the ability to take a different perspective or “put one's self in another’s shoes” is a skill that continues to develop throughout childhood. Teach your son the importance of saying “thank you” when he receives a gift, regardless of whether he likes it. Don’t ask him to lie and pretend that he likes the gift, instead keep the focus on teaching him the importance of being polite and thanking others. Your son will also learn by watching how you interact with others, so make a point to model this behavior yourself.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.