Teach your kids to be grateful for a gift—even if they aren’t

A child who sulks after unwrapping a pair of socks isn’t spoiled—that’s just how a young brain works. But parents can still help children develop graciousness and gratitude.

A few weeks ago, I asked my four-year-old what he should do when he receives a gift.

“Say ‘thank you,’” he replied.

“And what should you do if you receive a gift you don’t like?” I asked.

“Say, ‘no thank you,’” he said matter-of-factly.

Nearly every parent has a mortifying memory in which a child has appeared ungrateful for a gift. And though the ability to express gratitude when they’re just not feeling it is something a young brain isn’t yet equipped to handle, teaching children this skill is possible—and it has long-term developmental benefits.

Learning how to graciously accept a gift—even one you don't want—helps kids understand the connection between someone who loves them and the gift, according to child development experts. But it

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