Author: Jeffrey J. Froh and Giacomo Bono
We all want our children to be happy. We have heard and seen stories about children in what seem to be unbearable circumstances, yet who still are able to be happy. Conversely, we are also familiar with children who seemingly have everything, who are unhappy. What makes the difference? Gratitude.
The first step in teaching gratitude to children, as anything else, is to model it first. Parents need to express gratitude often and coach children to express it as well. Being generous, doing kind things for others and taking care of yourself are also intertwined.
Another step in cultivating gratitude, which makes sense but rather surprised me, was helping children establish good relationships. When children have good relationships, it is easy to see the kindness that others show to them. This in turn extends to appreciating beauty in nature, happy things that happen throughout the day, and in general, seeing the world through rose colored glasses. Good relationships are key to having grateful children. As children learn to value others and their good qualities, they become less enthralled with consumerism and they also develop a sense of purpose and identity in wanting to give back to family members, neighbors and a community which have done so much for them.
Another thing I found fascinating was their research where the authors documented children with various levels of gratitude. They found that children with high gratitude levels are more likely to set goals and achieve them, have energy, enthusiasm and confidence, take personal responsibility and in general have better character and achieve more than those who don’t. The opposite are children who feel entitled, have low self esteem, achievement and involvement with the people and world around them.
Parts I liked best:
I loved how the authors drew together common, and even mundane things we do in everyday life and how they have an impact on gratitude. This is more than just a feel good book about making grateful kids, however. There is solid research behind it, and practical, easy-to-implement tips that parents can use everyday to help create a culture of happiness and gratitude.
How this book made an impact on me as a mother:
This book really made me think. I have a child who is struggling in many areas, including gratitude. I plan to use many of the strategies in this book to help him. This book cites research, personal stories and weaves together a case for gratitude that can really change society,
This book made me look at my own gratitude levels, and whether I voice more “glass half full” comments rather than “glass half empty” comments. I have been more careful in my language, and have voiced more positive emotions in my efforts to teach my children. I generally think of myself as a grateful person, but I have noticed a difference in my own moods and attitudes. I have been inspired to ask my children every day for three things they are grateful for and my children enjoy our little “game” of listing things. Though it seems a small thing, teaching gratitude is an easy, but very powerful way to change our families and communities for good.
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