With Christmas and Chinese New Year ahead, now is the prime time to teach your children about gratitude. Children love getting gifts and hong bao red packets filled with money. But it can be embarrassing if your kids are dismissive about their gifts, or do not seem grateful for all the blessings they receive in life. And when you’ve made a special effort to get them to a sports event or concert, it’s crushing if they just brush it off.
Teaching your children does more than stop them turning into spoiled brats. It actually helps improve their happiness and mental health. Countless psychological studies show gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, and enjoy the good experiences in their lives – even the small treats like a homemade cookie.
Gratitude is like a battery giving you the power to keep on going through tough times. It your child more resilience so they can deal with setbacks in life. Gratitude also helps your kids build strong and supportive relationships and better mental health.
But gratitude is not always a natural emotion. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the negative things in life and forget to be grateful for all the little pleasures we experience. We all need to be taught to recognise good things in our lives and feel gratitude about them. Here’s how to do it with your kids, so they have happier lives, whatever setbacks they face.
Psychologist Prof Andrea Hussong is Director for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina. She runs a project called “Raising Grateful Children”, where she studies children aged six to nine years old, and their family. The children and their parents meet with the researchers several times a year to discuss their lives. The goal is to find out what parenting methods work when it comes to raising well-adjusted, resilient and grateful children. Here’s what she’s identified.