Teaching gratitude to our kids is a vital skill in helping children develop emotionally and socially. Nurturing gratitude will not only benefit your child now, but down the road. According to a study at the University of California at Davis, grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism, and lower levels of stress and depression.
After studying thousands of individuals, researchers have identified the benefits of gratitude on our hearts, minds and bodies.
- Stronger immune systems
- Less bothered by aches and pains
- Lower blood pressure
- Exercise more and take better care of their health
- Sleep longer and feel more rested upon waking
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More alert, alive, and awake
- More joy and pleasure
- More optimism and happiness
- More helpful, generous and compassionate
- More forgiving
- More outgoing
- Feel less lonely and isolated
Gratitude is one of our best weapons against a sense of entitlement. Create gratitude rituals in your home like taking turns at meal time telling something that you’re thankful for that day. Preschool aged children are even capable of keeping a gratitude journal where they draw pictures of things they are grateful for throughout the book.
Let gratitude lead to conversation about stewardship, the idea that because we’ve been given gifts, we are called to give generously. Create gratitude opportunities where you as a family. . .
- serve together in a soup kitchen
- deliver food to a homeless shelter
- volunteer to bring snacks to an afterschool tutoring program for disadvantaged kids
- sell lemonade to raise money for clean water in Africa
- rake leaves for an elderly neighbor
- take food to a sick member in your church
- purchase toys for disadvantaged children at Christmas
Research tells us that kids learn more from watching and observing than from hearing. Brainstorm around opportunities where you can put gratitude into action as service. Identify times throughout the week where you can serve as a family.
Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons, Ph.D, Mariner Books; Reprint edition (November 6, 2008)