An ungrateful child can be difficult. You might wonder if you’re doing something wrong. Understanding potential root causes may guide you in correcting this unsettling situation.
Let’s dive in with 15 possible reasons. The first? Perhaps your son is…
Someone who is spoiled has been overindulged to the point that they do not appreciate anything and just want more.
Think for a moment: Do you give your son whatever he wants, whenever he wants it? While you may think of yourself as generous for this, you’re actually teaching him that this is how life works.
(Hint: That’s not how it works.) Perhaps so far, he…
2. Has Never Had To Work for Anything
When we work for something, we end up appreciating it because we know what it took to procure it. It helps us to understand its value.
However, someone who has never had to work for anything is robbed of that perspective. If it costs them nothing and comes easily, it means less to them.
If your son has never had to work for anything he has, he likely…
3. Feels Entitled
According to Merriam-Webster, the term “entitled” means someone feels they have a right to certain benefits or privileges. If they want something, they believe they should get it. End of story.
Look for signs of entitlement, like expecting rewards for good behavior, never offering to help out, passing blame, being unable to handle disappointment, and a constant desire for more and more.
One of the reasons your son feels entitled may be because he…
4. Has Never Endured Hardship
Trouble is a natural part of life, but hardship can help us grow. We appreciate things more after they’ve been taken away from us. We learn resilience and resourcefulness when the chips are down.
When someone lives in a protected bubble all the time, that growth never occurs. They’re stunted. Are you perhaps protecting your son too much?
A lack of hardships can only come from a….
5. Lack of Life Experience
No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you’re bound to run into problems. Young people lack many of these experiences, especially if they’re sheltered.
Let your son go out and experience reality. The bumps he encounters along the way will give him perspective.
6. Feels No Gratitude for Expected Gifts
There was a study at Yale that revealed kids aged 4-8 were actually less likely to feel a deep sense of gratitude if they thought a gift or reward was expected. These same children also showed zero interest in giving to others.
A different set of kids were given a gift out of pure generosity; these were not expected. The result? They experienced a stronger emotional impact of gratitude. This led to them wanting to become generous themselves.
See the difference? If your son is expecting a gift, it will impact him less. So, the question is… how often is he expecting gifts or rewards?
Is it possible your son…
7. Was Never Taught True Gratitude
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies revealed a link between gratitude and happiness in children as young as 5 years old. Wow!
In fact, numerous studies about gratitude in children reinforce a similar point: being grateful can help improve lives.
Encourage your son to say thank you and praise him when he displays gratitude. Also, be sure to model it. This is critical because your son may have…
8. No Impactful Role Models Who Demonstrate Gratitude Properly
Be brutally honest with yourself: How are you interacting with your child? How do they see you behave toward others?
Kids absorb what they see. Perhaps you lack gratitude — or maybe just don’t show it? In any case, be sure to become a solid role model if you want to make an impact.
Rest assured that it’s not just you. Another factor that comes into play (big time) is…
9. Modeling Behavior of Peers
Your son will be deeply impacted by how the other kids around him act. Take a look at this research, which states in part:
“According to the social learning theory (Bandura 1978), two major ways through which peer influences occur are modeling and reinforcement. Through modeling, adolescents learn new social skills and behavioral tendencies by observing their peers.”
As a result, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about who he is spending time with. Perhaps looking into some positive peer modeling is in order.
While we’re on the topic of outside influences, let’s talk about your son’s potential…
10. Lack of Humility
Merriam-Webster defines “humility” as “freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble.” The question then becomes:
Is your son arrogant?
The cause for them acting in this way may be a deep-rooted sense of insecurity. Or perhaps it’s because domination and pride are lauded in our society. Talk to your son.
11. Wants To Be Independent
“For kids with a strong need for autonomy and independence, it might be demoralizing to recognize how much they are dependent upon grownups.”
“Their sense of independence might be an illusion, but it’s a necessary illusion for the psychological balance and future growth into genuine independence. Their lack of gratitude might be the way they maintain the illusion that they are in control of their own lives.”
Talk to your son about how he’s feeling, and a need for autonomy may rear its head. Or perhaps he…
12. Does Not Know How to Feel True Gratitude
Oftentimes parents will demand gratitude from children.
According to an article from ParentingforBrain.com:
“To feel grateful, one needs to recognize that this source of goodness is outside help given by another person intentionally and altruistically, often at the expense of their own benefits, for which this person does not ask for anything in return.”
So, being forced to show gratitude just doesn’t feel right, and when a “thank you” is demanded, it chips away at feelings of genuine gratitude.
Speaking of parents spewing potentially harsh words toward their children, be honest: Does your son have…
13. Problems With Home Life
Are you arguing with your partner a lot? Is there abuse or instability in the home? Your son may be often focused on surviving serious problems and feeling less than secure, which can dampen gratitude.
Also, a problematic home life may involve parents who are not modeling gratitude correctly and/or are demanding gratitude, as we mentioned above. And those are just the smaller issues that dark home lives involve.
This is another reason why teaching gratitude is so important: It can help you through the hard times. According to Greater Good Magazine:
“Research says gratitude also helps us cope with crisis. Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall.”
A troubled home life can lead to the fact your son….
14. Doesn’t Feel Accepted or Loved
It’s hard to feel gratitude when you feel like an outcast. Instead of feeling grateful, it’s natural to instead experience feelings of defensiveness, low self-esteem, or bitterness.
How does your son feel? Is he experiencing rejection? Lack of love? How do you know?
On the other hand, if your son is given lots of love and acceptance, it could be that he’s…
15. Too Self-Involved
Being self-involved means a child is putting their focus too much on their own life, as opposed to focusing on others.
And that leaves little kindling for any kind of gratitude. However, there’s something that can be done.
Research says instilling a sense of awe can be a method to combat self-absorption. This is when we witness something truly incredible and it offers a sense of enormity that gives us a different perspective on the world and our place in it.
(Think something grand in nature, a classic work of art, or seeing a hero do something truly powerful and inspiring.)
Studies have shown this makes people more likely to volunteer or act on behalf of others. Perhaps it’s time to add some “awe” to your son’s life.
And this brings us to our…
If your son is acting ungrateful, you must explore the reasons why.
Whether it’s from you spoiling him, you modeling poor behavior, you not realizing how his friends are impacting him, or other reasons we’ve listed, the important thing is that you speak with your son.
Have a candid but kind conversation. Hopefully, with time, you can set him on the right path. We hope this article has been helpful.
And if you want more helpful content, make sure to keep this website bookmarked as we are always releasing new articles. A fact for which we hope you are…
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.