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Gratitude for Every Day of the Year

By Too Small to Fail

Gratitude for Every Day of the Year

Were you taught to count your blessings as a child? Turns out, this is important advice for young children and adults alike. While rituals like Thanksgiving serve as a great opportunity to express gratitude within families, new research is showing that teaching young children how to express gratitude on a regular basis is an important skill that will benefit them their entire lives.

According to a growing body of research, there are many benefits to the social, emotional and physical development of children when they are taught to feel and express gratitude regularly. Psychologists have found that when people think about the positive things in their lives—even while experiencing stressful situations—they can increase their happiness, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety. The benefits stem from brain hormones triggered and released by positive thoughts. These “feel-good” hormones counter the effects of the body’s stress hormones, which can harm developing minds and bodies. Expressing gratitude on a regular basis can improve the immune system, speed up recovery time and prevent chronic illnesses like obesity and heart disease. Finally, the more positive a child’s thinking, the more eager they are to learn and engage with others. This improves their social relationships and encourages new connections.

This does not mean that parents and caregivers should stop children from expressing negative feelings or emotions. But parents can help young children learn how to think positively and express gratitude by talking about their own gratitude for the positive things and people in their lives. Also, parents and caregivers can help young toddlers develop gratitude by sharing books about thankfulness, and involving them in activities—like delivering donated food to a food bank—that encourage sharing and empathy for others.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This news article from the Wall Street Journal explains recent research on gratitude, and how it benefits children and families.
  • Tips, videos and other resources from Greater Good about why gratitude matters—and how to express it regularly!
  • Ten ways to help children express their gratitude, starting now!

VIDEO: This video for parents explains why teaching gratitude can improve health and well-being for their children, and themselves. >>

Posted In: Newsletter