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Mindful Gratitude in Children

by , 21st Dec 2015

Mindful gratitude can foster altruism in children as young as toddlers and a great sense of empathy in adolescents.

There has been much research done on the topic of raising kind, mindful children.  Many sociologists and adolescent psychologists believe that gratefulness and kindness largely contribute to human health, happiness and positive, long lasting social connections.  Mindful gratitude can foster altruism in children as young as toddlers and a great sense of empathy in adolescents. According to Dr. David Schonfeld, the director of development and behavioral pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the desire to help is innate.”

Children are predisposed and compelled to helping those around them; it’s their nature.  However, this positive quality can eventually diminish if not nurtured and exercised.  It is up to each child’s parents, guardians, or other adult role models to have frequent talks with their children about kindness and compassion and to also provide opportunities for them to practice and demonstrate these traits. Equally important is the modeling of these traits by the caregivers on a consistent basis, since we know that children learn through imitation.  Research shows that children who regularly express acts of kindness and who are taught to be grateful from a young age, grow up to be not only happier and healthier adults but ultimately form closer social bonds.

Copyright: Christin Lola

Copyright: Christin Lola

  • Remind your children to share and appreciate what they have

It is important that parents or caregivers consistently remind their children to share and appreciate what they have.  Children who learn to share become generous adults. Praising children from a very young age for even the slightest display of empathy sets the foundation for a child who grows up to be a kind individual.  Cultivating an attitude of gratitude and kindness, like so much of the teaching parents do, is about the little things.  A simple act of kindness or consideration yields a child who is respectful of himself, as well as reverential of others.

Children learn by watching, listening and doing.  Parents need to regularly demonstrate gratefulness and kindness.  It is an invaluable exercise to tell your child what you are grateful for; even the small blessings can have a huge impact.  Children learn best by example and will quickly learn the value of compassion through demonstration.  It is also imperative that children feel valued, wanted and respected themselves.  Parents should insist on politeness and respect all around to further inspire selflessness.

Copyright: Africa Studio

Copyright: Africa Studio

  • A kind gesture or a simple thank you, reinforces thankfulness

Finding teachable moments throughout the day is another way to positively engage children.  A kind gesture or a simple thank you, reinforces thankfulness.  Repetition is a remarkable way to impart gratitude into your child’s life as well.  Encourage children to “give back” and look beyond themselves.  When children complain or gripe, try pointing out the silver lining.  Teaching kids optimism early on aids them in becoming resilient and more positively focused young adults.  Sharing moments of gratitude will ingrain a positive disposition in children.

Ultimately, the values that kids embrace are the ones they see their parents living out.  The simplest words or actions can have the most powerful influence in children’s lives.  It’s essential for parents to set good examples at an early age, and perhaps even more important to consistently model kindness and gratitude throughout the child’s life. There is no doubt that there is a link between kindness and happiness, and there has been much research proving that grateful children are kind children. 

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