Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Helping Kids Feel Grateful

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to focus on the many things for which we should be grateful—from obvious things like food to eat and a warm bed at night, to the little, more subtle things like your toddler making the baby sign for "more" for the first time or a sunny day for a winter outing. The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that the specific focus on gratitude on this particular day makes it more likely that even very young children will “sit up and pay attention.”

However, I think we all can agree that feeling grateful and expressing gratitude shouldn’t be just a one-day-a-year thing. The more difficult challenge, therefore, is how to help children understand that these behaviors are important every day. It’s a worthy goal because research shows that kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don't.

That’s why I was so glad to see a list of tips for how to foster gratitude in children included in an article prepared under the banner of the child-advocacy organization, Zero to Three. Here’s link: http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/social-emotional-development/raising-a-thankful-child.html .bab

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.

Co-Founder, the Baby Signs Program

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