Expressing Gratitude is Essential for Children to Thrive

What would you think if your children or grandchildren told you how much they appreciated little things you do with or for them? Some of you may say you’d be blown away by it. While much has been written about how thinking gratefully is important for adults, a growing body of research shows it is also essential for kids.

Let’s look at some of the benefits kids receive when they think gratefully and express their gratitude to their friends and parents. They are happier in general, they become more engaged at school, they are less anxious and experience fewer depressive feelings. Young people tend to view setbacks in a more positive light. It has been found when adolescents express gratitude it is a good test for how they are thriving. They also enjoy stronger relationships with their peers and attract more friends. Their peers see them as having warmer personalities and more likable. Wow, which of us wouldn’t want these benefits for young people in our lives!

Let’s face it, many kids live in a selfie, me-driven Facebook world. Sadly, none of it will prepare them to thrive in the real world and in life. The good news is it isn’t too late to instill grateful thinking. Expressions of gratitude are natural and instinctive. The benefits will come quickly and will encourage more of it.

Kristen Welch, a Houston mother of three children, ages 11 to 18, realized how lacking in gratitude her children were and was committed to doing something about it. She guided them through the change in thinking they needed very successfully. She shares her experience in her book titled, “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.” It could be a good place to start.

The key is to move beyond simply having our kids mindlessly write or express thank you’s for gifts received. Thinking  gratefully creates awareness of all the many things they each have to be thankful for each day and becoming mindful of expessing the gratitude they feel. Virtually every religious tradition incorporates expressions of gratefulness in their teaching, and for very good reason. It changes our outlook on the world and changes our relationships, as well. We owe it to our children to make the effort to encourage them to think gratefully. Even a short period of this focus will produce profound results in their lives, and in ours, as well.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, An Attitude of Gratitude byJennifer Breheny Wallace, Feb 24-25, 2018.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.
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