Happy little girl chases bubble outside

Why Showing Gratitude at Home is Important for Raising Happy Children

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the question, “What are you grateful for?” is on everyone’s mind. It’s a wonderful time of year to reflect on the things we’re lucky to have. And while it’s great to take part in this practice at least yearly, science has shown that consistent practices in gratitude can reduce stress and increase overall happiness. Because children are so apt to imitate their parents, showing gratitude at home will instill habits in your kids that will affect their happiness throughout their lifetime.

  1. Showing Gratitude Teaches Them to Focus on the Positive
    When you show your child that you’re thankful for everything from a beautiful day to the warm, fluffy sweater you get to put on when you get home from work, it primes them to be happy with the things that they have. Too often, negative feelings stem from dissatisfaction. You’re in a bad mood because you have to go to work at a boring job. You’re annoyed because your home is too small. You wish you had newer, trendier clothing. When you change your mindset to be appreciative for even the smallest things, you begin to see positives everywhere. Next time you snuggle down with the family for a night in, exclaim how comfy the couch is, pronounce how delicious and nourishing the meals are, and don’t forget to say, “How did I get so lucky to have such a wonderful family?”
  2. Gratitude Helps Children to Practice Empathy
    Thanking the store clerk after he bags your groceries or the customer service rep after they’ve walked you through another internet disruption shows your child that you’re acknowledging the hard work that another human being has put in for your benefit. In many classrooms, the students thank the teacher for the lesson at the end of class. Practices like this shifts the mindset from entitlement to gratitude. Someone took the time and effort to help you when they have lives of their own. This realization will teach your kids to become aware of humanity; the fact that we’re all just people trying to lead our lives. It will lead to better social interactions and healthier interpersonal relationships as they grow.
  3. Gratitude Can Improve Self-Esteem
    Acknowledging that you have good things in your life makes it easy to see that you’re a person that has things going for them. Being appreciative of your qualities, whether it’s your problem solving abilities or the fact that you have healthy, thick hair, can help you like the person that you are. When it comes to your kids, show gratitude for their attributes like how loving they are, or the way they’re excited to go to the library. You can say something like, “I’m so grateful I have a kid that loves to learn,” or, “Gosh, aren’t I lucky that I get the best hugs the moment I come home?”

Some other gratitude-boosting activities you may want to try out with your child this season include bringing donations to a food pantry, delivering flowers to a nursing home, and collecting coins for a local donation box. These practices may seem small, but done consistently, will lead to big results in your family’s outlook on life!