teens feeling grateful

How to Help Your Teenager be a Little More Appreciative of What They Do Have

I looked again and felt so lucky.

I had a great email exchange with a reader and I felt so blessed to be able to connect with people all over the world.

I recently wrote a post that talked about helping your kids build the gratitude habit. Most of it was focused on younger kids. My kids are 9 and 4, but I realize that many parents are dealing with teenagers who are struggling with gratitude as well.

When I was a teenager I struggled with feeling grateful. My parents just told me to be more grateful, but being told that doesn’t really help.

Then I got this email from Katrien and it helped me get a better understanding of a parent with teenagers. I know I’m not that far away, so this email exchange really helped me too.

Hi Karl,

Thank you for sharing your experiences with your kids!

I also try to let my boys see the positive side of things.

I ask a lot of the questions you are mentioning.

But what my boys (17 and 15) often reply is: ‘ but mom, by trying to find something positive, it’s as if you don’t see how horrible that was for me…’

I try to explain that by dwelling on the negative, it won’t make them feel any better.. or find a solution, they will feel even worse…

But I do get their frustration…

How would you respond to them?

Thank you so much!


Hi Katrien!

This is a great question. I think you are doing a really good job. It’s important not to discount their feelings. You might want to try asking them questions to go a little deeper.

You could try. “Why was it so horrible?” or “Tell me a little more so I understand better.”

The idea is to help them understand their thought patterns. The more they can reflect on their own thoughts and realize that they are just thoughts then they will understand that they have the power to view them from many different angles. As they realize they can reframe a difficult situation and view it as a learning moment, they’ll get better and better at it. This is what will help them become resilient adults.

In the moment they usually want an empathetic ear to listen to them and recognize their feelings.

Sometimes sharing a story about how you or someone you know dealt with a similar situation can really help. Our brains are really good at remembering stories. It’s one of the best way to teach kids.

It’s all about planting these seeds now so they can use them when they are dealing with the next tough situation.


Hi Karl!

Thank you for this elaborate answer!

It really helps!

I will try to dig deeper, that will give them a better feeling of being heard and they too will understand more about what went on and how they’ve reacted and how they can react in a future situation.

You may absolutely share the question! The whole idea is that we all help each other out the best we can.

Wishing you a very fine evening! ( here in Belgium it’s late afternoon, I don’t know what time it is at your place)

Kind regards,

As you can see no parent has all the answers, but if we have a community to help us bounce ideas off of each other it can make parenting a little easier.

How grateful are you? The more grateful you are the more likely your teenager will be grateful too. Check out how grateful you are with the Bring Gratitude Quiz.