Evidence That It Works
A daily diary study found that the more parents took action to cultivate gratitude in their children on a certain day (such as by talking with their kids about experiences of receiving something from others), the more their kids showed gratitude on that same day–compared to the days when the parents took less action and compared to other kids whose parents took less action.
Why Does It Matter?
Children aren’t natural-born gratitude experts. Gratitude develops over time, as cognitive abilities mature, and it takes a lot of practice. Parent-child conversations can help by deepening children’s understanding of gratitude by breaking it down into parts and raising their awareness of those parts.
Making the effort to help children cultivate gratitude pays off. Grateful kids and teens tend to be more engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, get better grades, and be more satisfied with school, family, community, friends, and themselves. They are more likely to have better social support, give more emotional support to others, and use their strengths to better their community. Overall, they are happier, more optimistic, and more satisfied with their lives.