There is so much research centered around the link between gratitude and happiness in children. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling a sense of gratitude in your children very early on could help them grow up to be happier people. Other studies have found a positive association between gratitude, happiness, and general well being emphasizing how important it is for children to make expressing gratitude a central part of who they are, of course, with your guidance – their first teacher.
So make expressing gratitude a habit in which your entire family participates. That way, it will become second-nature in their lives and the spirit of gratefulness can live on for generations to come.
Here are three quick ways to establish gratitude as a ritual.
1. Take turns sharing at the dinner table. Talk about one thing you are grateful for from the day. Start with the question, “What are you thankful for today?”
2. Every Saturday morning or once a week, write a note or send a text telling another family member how grateful you are for them in your life. Be specific with the message. For example, “I’m so grateful to have someone to laugh with when I’m feeling down. Thanks for always being that person for me.”
3. On the car ride to/from school or while you wait for the bus, thank someone else for something they did to encourage you or help you during the week or even the day before. Be specific when expressing appreciation. For example, “I really appreciate you helping me put the food away last night. It helped me get to bed a little earlier. Thank you for that.”
The goal is to not overthink it. Just make it a part of your everyday familial lifestyle and it will change the way your family engages with one another.
If you need more support in this area, let us guide you in that process. There is so much more you can do to ensure that your child’s mental wellness is strengthened by continuing to support parents with the tools and resources you need to help your child thrive. We are here to partner with you in giving your child the best opportunities in life possible!