This post was featured on Parent Co., a digital publication for people who are as curious about the world as they are committed to raising great kids.
Scientists only recently have begun to study the benefits of gratitude. Vitamin G, as some like to call it, plays a critical role in happiness. Focusing on the positive boosts body, mind, and spirit. It gives us energy, inspires us, and transforms us. In a nutshell, it provides life with meaning by thinking of life as a gift. Don’t you want to give this gift to your children?
Top 10 Benefits of Gratitude
Dr. Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He conducted studies involving gratitude journals and found that when people regularly engage in gratitude, they experience measurable psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits:
- Feel better about their lives overall
- Experience higher levels of positive emotions like optimism, enthusiasm, love, and happiness
- Are kinder and more generous to others
- Have fewer physical problems including pain
- Exercise more regularly and eat healthier
- Sleep better
- Visit the doctor more regularly for checkups
- Feel less stressed
- Able to cope with stress more effectively and recover more quickly from stressful situations
- Live longer–on average, being thankful adds 7 years to our lives!
How It Works
Why does saying thank you have so many benefits for us? When we count our blessings, we interrupt the cycle of negative and fearful thoughts, which allows the stress system in our bodies to recover. Research shows that when we are thankful, we love our lives and want to make sure we stick around long enough to enjoy them. Also, when we receive praise from others, our brain releases the chemical dopamine, which encourages us to do more to receive such praise. This makes us want to thank others and make them feel good as well.
How To Teach Our Children Gratitude
In her book 10 Mindful Minutes, Goldie Hawn explains that being thankful is not a natural instinct; children need to be taught how to do it. She asks parents to be a good example to their children by thanking them often. It is important to explain to our children why they are being praised.
Another important tip is to be careful not to judge how our children express gratitude. Young children under age seven may not fully grasp the concept. It is not what they are thankful for, but that they are learning how to express gratitude that matters. If they want to be thankful for a toy, that is okay.
Stay tuned for some great ideas to help make gratitude a natural part of your children’s lives.