The Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude offers benefits to your child’s health that extend far beyond the Thanksgiving holiday.

Studies show that being grateful helps kids get better grades and connect with friends and family. Grateful children have been shown to experience higher levels of happiness and compassion, feel less stress and be less likely to experience depression. Research also shows that kids who work on being grateful are better at overcoming adversity.

4 Tips for More Grateful Kids

You can help instill an attitude of gratitude in your kids when you:

Set the stage by saying “thank you.” This simple phrase is the building block of appreciation, and it’s something that even young kids can understand. Even something as simple as writing thank-you notes to teachers can help a child express her appreciation, and it can help make gratitude a more concrete concept. It may take some time for it to stick, but gentle reminders can help make good manners an everyday habit.

Bring gratitude into your everyday routine. This could be something as easy as talking about one small thing you’re thankful for while the family’s at the dinner table or bringing it up each night before bed. Small kids may stick to material things like their favorite toys, but as your children get older, work to remind them that it’s important to be grateful for things such as relationships with friends and family and their health. No matter what they express gratitude for, don’t correct them. Experts say to simply let them be thankful for whatever makes them grateful.

Give back as a family. One of the best ways to teach kids to be grateful for what they have is to give rather than get. Volunteer as a family for a local cause; write letters to servicemen and women, or your local public servants; have your children collect toys and games to donate to those in need.

Curb overindulgence. It can be tough saying no to our kids, but, in the end, not giving in to every “I want” can help them appreciate what they already have. You can also give your kids age-appropriate responsibilities such as picking up their own toys or setting the table for dinner. This helps them understand the importance of working hard, and how rewarding that can be, rather than developing a sense of entitlement.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.