December 16, 2013
Posted in: Hot Topics
Ah, it’s the holidays: a time for giving, but also a time for getting. If you’re a parent, you might be wondering if all this “stuff” you’ve been buying is making your child happier—or greedier. At the very least, you’d probably like your child to be happy with what he’s getting.
Psychological research studies have shown that gratitude is strongly and consistently correlated with greater happiness. In other words, people who live a life grateful for what they’ve been given report higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than those who don’t—and this has little or no relationship with what those people actually have. Whether rich or poor, if you are more thankful, you’re likely more happy. In contrast, other studies have shown that children who grow up receiving a never-ending stream of possessions tend to be less grateful for what they have than children who are given less. At this time of year, these two issues present parents with a dilemma: more stuff isn’t going to make their children happier (in fact, it might actually make them LESS happy), but their kids, on the other hand, expect more stuff.
Parents actually have more control over this issue than they might think, as they can help their children cultivate gratefulness during this time of year—and throughout. Some ways parents can cultivate gratefulness at this time of year include:
Moreover, research has shown that gratitude is something that develops over time; therefore, it needs to be cultivated throughout the year by:
Gratitude is a tricky concept to teach—and to learn. We’re all by nature somewhat self-centered, and that’s especially true for young children. But, by teaching your kids the art of gratefulness, you’re not just increasing the chances that they’ll live a happier life, you’re also helping them develop empathy and other important life skills. Above all, be patient; if your child isn’t grateful all the time, that’s OK. Learning to have a grateful heart is a lifelong process. And, it’s an important one that may be a key ingredient in our own happiness and well-being.