Evidence That It Works
One study discovered that students who were taught to think gratefully by considering the costs, benefits, and intentions behind a kind act were found, in comparison to a control group, to be happier and more grateful, and to show more grateful thinking. They also were more likely to write gratitude letters to PTA members.
Another study in which students wrote and delivered a gratitude letter expressed more gratitude and experienced more positive emotions both immediately and two months after in comparison to a group of students who kept a journal.
Why Does It Matter?
Helping students to recognize the effort and benevolent intentions of the adults in schools may help to build a stronger school community and, as research suggests, may reduce burnout among teachers. In addition, when the adults in schools receive the gratitude of students, they, in turn, may be more committed to their work, helping students to thrive.
Note: The studies on gratitude letters and teaching students to think gratefully were done mainly with affluent white students, hence, the findings of this study may not be applicable to students from other racial/ethnic or economic backgrounds.