Creative Child

Beyond “Thank you”

Raising Grateful Kids
by Rebecca Eanes

Yesterday, a friend posted a funny meme on social media. It read, “Brace yourselves, the ‘I’m thankful for’ posts are coming.” 

Gratitude is hot in November. 

It’s good to pause our busy lives for a moment each day to look at and appreciate who we have, what we have, and where we are. If only we could bottle up that November feeling of thankfulness for December through October. 

Maybe we can.


Research has shown a correlation in happiness and gratitude. The more thankful we are, the happier. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies revealed that children’s gratitude predicted their happiness above and beyond a general propensity for gratitude in children by 5 years of age. An abundance of research has shown time and again that, even starting very young, gratitude leads to happiness, optimism, life satisfaction, and overall well-being. Grateful people are even more productive and also tend to live longer. 

Thanks to social media trends, we have gotten pretty good at cultivating gratitude those 30 days in November. Then the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season brings back the stress and busyness, and we often don’t think about it again until after Halloween. Yet, clearly there are a lot of reasons to make gratitude a daily habit year-round, and to teach our children to do the same. But how?

What is Gratitude, Truly? 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gratitude as simply “the state of being grateful.” I prefer the definition by Robert Emmon, a leading scientific expert on gratitude. He says that gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldy one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. In a transcendent sense, we recognize that some sources of the goodness received lies outside the self. 


Basically, gratitude is an attitude - one of noticing and appreciating all that is good in life, even during times when it’s hard to see the goodness. If we are open to seeing all of life’s gifts, we will notice they do not simply come in wrapped packages or joyful moments, but that each lesson, each experience offers us some sort of present. Once we achieve this attitude, we will reap the benefits of a happier, more content life. 

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