How to Be Grateful – Why It’s Important for Kids

Often, a child’s sense of gratefulness quickly disappears after receiving a gift or going on a family excursion. This is something that is true of kids and adults alike. So, what does it mean to teach or show a child how to be grateful? Is this even something that can be taught? Why is this so important? Here we talk about some of the simple benefits of being grateful and how to achieve this feeling.

Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California says that cultivating gratitude increases our happiness by 25%. Placing a focus on gratitude enhances and strengthens relationships, which teaches children to have empathy for others. Focusing on relationships reduces a sense of entitlement in children as they learn the ways that people are interdependent. Enhancing a child’s sense of gratitude supports their self-esteem which translates to hope, optimism, and a better attitude in every setting.

Here are some tips for taking advantage of teachable moments to teach your child how to be grateful

  • Encourage your child to say three things they are grateful for at bedtime; model this too them too
  • Create a grateful journal for them to write down at least one positive thing that happened to them that day
  • Make a jar of accomplishments that they have achieved over the year
  • Pick a time of day like dinner or in the car to share the best parts of the day
  • Find some volunteering activities to do together
  • Create a family culture of positivity with the slogan “attitude is a choice”
  • Teach them to thank others by writing notes and using their words
  • Make time for chores together, even if they only take a few minutes
  • Engage older children in caring for younger children
  • Teach children how to care for pets and notice how it returns to them in love and affection
  • Give gifts of experiences like beaches, hiking, sports or other fun activities
  • Lead by example – model an attitude of gratitude
  • Explain how media marketing targets an spending rather than a relationship

It takes some effort on the parent’s part, but children can learn from you to be grateful. Every day presents many opportunities for using teachable moments to coach the concept of gratefulness in children.

As with everything, consistency is key with teaching your children how to be grateful. Before you know it, gratefulness will become a life-long part of your child’s natural resiliency.

Paradox Psych Services is a child and teen therapy center with two locations in Carlsbad: Bressi Ranch and Aviara. Our child therapists at Bressi Ranch are also near San Marcos. We offer an action and goal oriented approach with skilled therapists that have earned the highest achievable degree in their field. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free phone consultation. 

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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