Gratitude - an essential value in children's emotional development

10 January, 2022

Gratitude is an essential value in the emotional development of grateful children because children tend to be happier and more optimistic.

What is gratitude?

We often hear expressions that highlight gratitude and its benefits, but how many of us know what it actually is? Gratitude is when we express our appreciation and thanks for the good things in our lives. We can be thankful for the things we receive, the people around us, and the exciting things we get to experience and do.

Gratitude is much deeper than saying "Please" and "Thank you", it is a mindset, one that you can develop and cultivate.

What do experts say about the power of gratitude?

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is closely linked to children's happiness. This means that instilling gratitude in your children from an early age could help them grow up to be happier people.

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of School Psychology, grateful children (ages 11 to 13) tend to be happier, more optimistic, and have healthier relationships with those around them. They also report greater satisfaction with their schools, families, communities, friends, and themselves. Grateful children also tend to provide more social support to others.

15 key activities to do with your child to cultivate gratitude - an essential value in children's development

  1. Say "please" and "thank you". Every time.

It would be beneficial to explain to children that our mannerisms show that we don't think we are entitled to everything and that we appreciate everything we are given. The power of example is essential in these circumstances because children at this time imitate what the adults around them do.

  1. Help someone less fortunate together.

Gratitude means helping people in a difficult situation, and this could be the neighbor down the street, grandma, or someone you know. You can do this together or you can encourage your little one to help that person.

  1. Volunteer.

Any volunteer activity strengthens both empathy and gratitude. Help out at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or non-profit organization. Likewise, simply helping your colleague with homework without getting something in return is a valuable act of volunteering.

  1. Send cards or thank-you letters.

Express your gratitude to those who have made a difference in your life and send them a written message, either on colored paper, by text message, or email.

  1. Look for moments of admiration in your day.

If the sunset is particularly beautiful, comment on it. If the sound of another person's laughter warms your heart, say so. Encourage your little ones to seek out their awe-inspiring moments and share them with you.

  1. Share your gratitude at bedtime.

Take five minutes at the end of the day to ask your child what they are grateful for that day. Look for reasons you were thankful or happy that day.

  1. Share your gratitude at the dinner table.

Take a moment at dinner to share what you are grateful for. Walk around the table, giving each family member a chance to express gratitude. Compliment the chef and the food at that table.

  1. Compliment others.

Encourage children to do the same. Share the things you appreciate about another person, whether it's a new accessory, physical appearance, or the values that person holds.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal.

It can be in any form that works best for your child's age, skill level, and desire. Some children will want to spend time writing down their thoughts. Others may be more apt to express their gratitude through drawing or painting. Encourage all forms of expression!

  1. Write a letter.

Encourage your child to write a letter to someone who has touched them. If he or she feels comfortable, visit with that person to read the letter aloud. If not, send it by mail or email.

  1. Create a family gratitude journal.

Leave the journal somewhere where everyone can access it and challenge the family to write in it whenever they feel grateful. Leave cute and funny messages for other family members.

  1. Give someone a gift.

Help your child earn money and buy a gift for a loved one or make a handmade gift together. Surely, his or her excitement level and mood will increase considerably.

  1. Always look for the positive.

Find the positive in less pleasant situations and talk to others about it. Optimism is closely related to gratitude and the accumulation of positive energy and motivation.

  1. Create a gratitude jar.

Encourage children to add to a special container for thoughts of gratitude whenever they feel grateful for something or someone. They can do this at any time, alone or with someone else

  1. Donate to a non-profit organization.

Nonprofits serve people in need and at this time of year are always looking for necessities, meals, and gifts to give to those in need. Have your children accompany you as you donate to those in need to spread the power of example.

What are we left with in gratitude?

An attitude of gratitude is a positive way of looking at life. Gratitude can increase our children's happiness, teach them to be more empathetic, and help them be more grateful for all they have. One positive emotion leads to another. When we express the gratitude we feel good, we feel happy. Gratitude has been shown to draw attention away from negative emotions and reduce feelings like envy or frustration.

In terms of conveying and developing the value of gratitude, the power of the adult's example is essential, and depending on the activities you do in this regard, your child will want to follow your example, to be your role model.

When we feel grateful for someone's kindness to us, we are more likely to do a good deed in return, and thanking people will make them more likely to do it again. Positive emotions balance negative emotions. This kind of positive thinking reduces stress and anxiety.

 As Charles Dickens says, "There is always something to be thankful for."

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