May 18, 2024

Teach Your Children Gratitude

By Bob Kisiki

You know that it is possible just to give up; very easy. Throw in the towel and say:

“To hell! I have had it!”

Because there is every reason for a parent to get to that level. The scenarios are various; all horrendous. It is the reason parents have hacked or burnt or maimed their own children. Not because they hate those children; oh, how they love them! Yes, I know how contradictory this sounds. But I also know how love can make one feel frustrated.

It is in doing your very best for the child, only for them to “kick you back with the very leg you helped heal”, as the old Luganda saying goes. When you put your all into ensuring the child has everything they need, and sometimes, what they want, and getting ingratitude and entitlement in return!

When you show them the [right] way to take and receive call after call, when the law or public consensus has caught them straying into forbidden paths — of indecent dressing; of alcohol and substance abuse; of wanton sex; of illicit trade; of being public nuisances; of so much stuff that could send you to an early grave, just thinking through it all! It is very possible to throw in the towel and just sit back…

How much do your children know about the sacrifices you make for them? Do they know how you make your money and what it costs you to make it? Do they know the ailments you either suffer or risk suffering due to the lifestyle you subject yourself to, to be able to cater for them? Do they appreciate that ensuring they get whatever they have – and this is more than just material possessions – means you forego certain things, again more than just material items?

And no, I am not talking about making them feel guilty for being your children or making them feel that probably you would live the best life imaginable if they did not exist.

In addition to life skills, teach children to be grateful for what they have

I am talking about teaching them gratitude. Telling them that when people go out of their way to serve them, those people must be appreciated: The waiter at the café, the person who slows down and lets you turn into a side road or the bodaboda rider who delivers you safely to your destination. People must be appreciated. 

Recently, a friend who had collapsed from running up and down, attending to her children’s health and other issues, was refreshed when one of her children demanded she takes three days off.

Nothing my friend said made the child back off. The little girl even ordered her siblings off the area where their mother was recuperating, lest they hindered her healing. Right there is a child who appreciates her parent’s contribution to her life.


Children must be empathetic. They must know that when you find a pregnant mother who is delivering her baby outside of the hospital ward, you do not simply look the other side and walk on. You improvise a way of covering her before you dash to summon the nurses. They should know that if the tout is threatening to throw a school child off the matatu over sh500, you offer to clear it.

They must know that the foundation of community is everyone living for the comfort, safety and happiness of others. That is how human beings are made from the people who are born.

The writer is a parenting counsellor and teacher

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