The importance of teaching your children gratitude

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If there were one thing parents wished for their children more than anything else, it would for them to be HAPPY. No matter the job or education they end up with, you can’t argue that the desire for them to have a lifelong sense of happiness in life trumps everything.

Gratitude goes way further than saying “thank you”. It is about appreciating and valuing everything you have while showing generosity and empathy to others. In adult psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with great happiness. It helps you feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve your health and wellbeing, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

The research for children turns out to be no different. In fact, it has been shown that if children are taught gratitude from a young age, they take on life with so many more positive benefits than those who don’t.

Benefits of instilling gratitude for kids

Gratitude has been shown to have lots of benefits to mental and physical health and include things like:

  • Higher levels of happiness and optimism
  • Improved sleep
  • Less stress and an improved ability to cope with stress
  • Fewer physical problems
  • Reduced depression
  • Less aggression
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved resilience

How to teach gratitude to children

Kids are living in a world where they are bombarded by the belief they need stuff to look cool and to ‘BE’ someone. Apparently, they cannot just be themselves.

Rates of depression, anxiety, and mental health illnesses in children are on the rise and show us that our children are far from happy. They need to realise that their place in this world does not revolve around what they have, what they do, or who society says they should be. It is about being happy with who they are and content with what they have, and for this, they need to be grateful.

The more children practice gratitude, the better they get at it and the greater the benefits. Here are some easy ways to practice gratitude with your children today:

  1. Daily gratitude reflection

Share one thing they are grateful for at the dinner table each night. It’s a chance for everyone to reflect upon their day, providing children with a bit of perspective and appreciate that although every day might not be good, there is always something good in every day.

  1. Help others

Help your children to find causes that they feel passionate about and are interested in, and allow them to contribute in their own unique way using their special skills and talents. No matter what it is, giving to others will help your child appreciate their own life and how fortunate they are.

  1. Say thank you

It may seem like a no brainer, but using manners certainly helps us to express gratitude for others. Not just in the little ways such as saying thank you to their sibling for passing the milk. It’s the small things people do for us to brighten our day. For example, thanking a supportive friend who is always there for you, thanking their teacher for the extra help they give on a topic they are stuck on.

  1. Family gratitude jar

Every time someone in your family feels grateful for something or someone in their life, write it down and pop it in a gratitude jar. At the end of each week around the Sunday dinner table, sit down together and reflect on everything in each other’s lives you have been grateful for that week.

  1. Gratitude journal

For those older children who are able to write, a gratitude journal they keep by their bedside is a great way to practice gratitude daily. They will get into the habit of feeling grateful each and every day.