Most of us would like our kids to express — and feel— more gratitude. So how do we get our kids to say thank you like they mean it? Maybe even remember to do so unprompted? Here’s how to build a practice of gratitude with (and for) kids of all ages.
Most of us would like our kids to express— and feel— more gratitude. But yelling “There are children in India who don’t even have XBoxes!” doesn’t seem to be sufficiently getting the message across. Kids are kids; they lack perspective by definition. Practicing gratitude means having the ability to imagine a reality other than one’s own, and that might take a while. Researchers Blaire Morgan and Liz Gulliford explain it this way in their book Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents:
It is largely agreed that gratitude is not inbuilt; instead it develops over time, as certain capacities become available and cognitive abilities mature… it requires a great deal of practice.
Still, gratitude really matters, and our kids having that skill isn’t just about bonus parenting points for us. Our children will have better lives if they’re more grateful. Seriously, studies. Parenting expert Jennifer Wallace says gratitude creates “an upward spiral of positive emotions,” and who doesn’t want those?
So: until that attitude of gratitude comes naturally, how do we get our kids to say “thank you” like they mean it? Maybe even remember to do so unprompted once in a while? In this episode, we discuss specific ways to build a practice of gratitude with (and for) your kids, at all ages and stages.
Here’s links to the studies and other writing on gratitude discussed in this episode:
Jennifer Breheny Wallace for the Wall Street Journal: How To Raise More Grateful Children
Homa Navangar for PBS Parents: Ten Ways To Raise a Grateful Kid
Maryam Abdullah for Greater Good Magazine: How To Help Gratitude Grow in Your Kids
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