Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful and expressing appreciation for what one has. While this is a seemingly simple concept, expressing gratitude can have a large impact on our overall health. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology and scientific expert on gratitude, studied a sample of 1,000 people from ages 8 to 80 and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
Physical: Stronger immune system, better sleep quality, less bothered by aches and pains, lower blood pressure
Psychological: Higher levels of positive emotions, more alert and awake, more optimism and happiness
Social: More forgiving, more outgoing, less lonely, more compassionate and generous
The above benefits point to the importance of expressing gratitude, but how can you help your kids learn to live gratefully? Here are a few tips to help you foster an attitude of gratitude in your own household:
- Name your blessings. Encourage your children to share something they’re thankful for each day. Older kids may prefer to keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things they were thankful for each day before bed.
- Encourage your children to give back. When kids give their time and energy to help others, they’re less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted.
- Be a grateful parent. Tell your kids why you’re grateful to have them and what makes them special to you. This sets the example that gratitude extends beyond material objects.
- Keep thank-you notes on hand. Encouraging your children to send handwritten thank-you notes is a perfect way to help inspire gratitude.
- Find the silver lining. It’s human nature to see the glass half-empty from time to time — and children are no exception. When kids complain or gripe, it can be helpful to try to find a response that looks on the bright(er) side.
-Kristi, Katie & Elizabeth