By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

Appreciation means a lot to a teen.   In her mind it resonates as support, and when she is assured that her parents’ support is unwavering, she is likely to be more receptive and communicative. She will also begin to understand how to convey her own appreciation.

But what exactly is appreciation?


Appreciation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

Gratitude is the foundation for appreciation.

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Appreciation requires going beyond gratitude and recognizing the quality something or someone brings into your life. It requires bringing to mind what it is about someone or something that promotes feelings of lightness, love, happiness, or energy, no matter what.   One of the hardest things about being a parent is the nagging feeling that no one, especially your teen, appreciates you. It’s easy for teens to get so caught up in their own lives that their parents’ efforts, sacrifices, and support go unnoticed.

So how can you instill a sense of appreciation in your teen?

  • Ask her. How do you like to be appreciated? Ask yourself the same question. Engage in a conversation that will provide you both with insight. How do you each show your heartfelt appreciation for one another?
  • Show her. Instead of focusing on what’s not being done, acknowledge the things that are going well. Say “thank you” when your teen helps around the house.   Explicitly state your appreciation when your teen remembers to put her dishes away or fold her clothes. Catch her doing the right thing and remind her how much you appreciate her effort. “I appreciate you. I’m so grateful that I get to be your mom or dad.”
  • Say it…. Often. Make a point of extending your appreciation to all family members, friends, and colleagues. When you slow down to notice and appreciate the quality someone or something brings to your life, you set a positive tone for your own life and provide a powerful example for your daughter to follow.