With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there is no better time to encourage gratitude in your home. Research suggests that grateful young adolescents (ages 11-13), are happier and more optimistic, have better social support, are more satisfied with their school, family, community, friends, and themselves, and give more emotional support to others. We’ve also found that grateful teens (ages 14-19) are more satisfied with their lives, use their strengths to better their community, are more engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, have higher grades, and are less envious, depressed, and materialistic.
Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude
- Model and teach gratitude: Expressing gratitude through words, writing, and small gifts or acts of reciprocity are all ways to teach children how to become grateful.
- Spend time with your kids and be mindful when with them: Giving a child a lot of quality time with you teaches them the language of love—life’s greatest gift.
- Support your child’s autonomy: Using a parenting style that is firm, yet flexible, supports children’s autonomy. This will enhance family relationships and improve the atmosphere at home which all good for making grateful kids!
- Use kids’ strengths to fuel gratitude: To directly promote gratitude, encourage and help your children to use their strengths to thank and be kind to others.
- Help focus and support kids to achieve personal goals like growth and affiliation and not wealth or status: Steer kids away from pursuing goals like wealth or status and push them towards pursuing personal goals, such as engaging in activities that provide community, affiliation, and growth.
- Encourage helping others: Helping others and being generous are two key ingredients for making grateful kids.
- Help kids find what matters to them: Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life. The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.