There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted us in many ways, especially our children. Reports around the world highlight how the month-long (in some places, even years) lockdown and disruptions in day-to-day life have caused emotional stress and psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Families have faced a variety of new challenges and concerns in dealing with the situation. As COVID wanes and our life tries to return to normal, we are still confronted by its effects brought by the changes in our personal and social lives. Today, many parents wrestle with their children’s mental health and well-being issues.
Despite the enormity of the challenges, there are still good, even amazing, things happening in our daily lives, and we can focus on those instead of the setbacks or things we lack.
We can start by teaching our children an important quality or emotion—gratitude. From the Latin word gratus, gratitude or being grateful is a positive emotion that involves an appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of what is good in our lives.
Gratitude and its benefits
According to one medical expert, “Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family, even computer access. It’s taking a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are when something good happens—whether it’s a small thing or a big thing” (Gavin 2018).
It seems just a simple thing, but teaching children about gratitude has great benefits. Recent studies found that grateful or appreciative children are happier, less stressed, and have a more hopeful attitude toward life. For instance, a 2020 research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies reports that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5 (Nguyen and Gordon 2020). An earlier research published in the Journal of School Psychology points out that grateful children exhibit higher levels of happiness, optimism, and even social support (Froh, Sefick, and Emmons 2008).
Interestingly, Ackerman (2022) listed 28 benefits of gratitude. According to her research, feeling positive, increased self-esteem, and improved relational and social support are among the benefits identified when practicing an attitude of gratitude.
How to teach gratitude
In the article Teaching Gratitude, Popovic (2020) shares four simple ways to integrate gratitude into our lives, which I have adapted as follows:
1. Practice what you preach. It is important that parents must model gratefulness and be exemplars of this quality. Remember, we cannot give what we do not have. Intentionally find time to practice gratitude through conversations with your children. Ask them what they are grateful for the day.
2. Encourage sharing. Create gratitude-building activities such as teaching children the importance of sharing and giving to others. By imparting kindness and generosity, children learn to empathize, which strengthens their emotional intelligence muscles. Thinking of donating outgrown clothing, books, and toys or joining a volunteerism event? Why not!
3. Write it down. One of the easiest and best ways to teach gratitude is by letting children think and write down positive aspects of their lives. Having a gratitude jar or journaling feelings of gratitude on a daily basis helps a lot.
4. Give them a chore and thank them for it. Giving your children age-appropriate chores at home can foster gratitude. Letting them experience certain duties or entrusting them with responsibilities and then telling them how proud you are of their task or achievement promotes gratefulness. Apart from this, it also creates a great parent-child connection.
Choose to be grateful
In Emosyon Bibo®, we believe gratitude is a choice, a mindset we can instill in our children. When we raise our children to have a thankful heart, they will rise above negativity and see more blessings and positive things in their everyday, ordinary lives. In turn, they will appreciate more people, situations, and things they have, which will help them become happier, more contented children with better relationships with others.
As such, we developed “Today I Choose to be Grateful” gratitude cards as a tool to help parents teach gratitude to their children. This 30-card set suggests an area of the child’s life that they can be grateful about. It also offers practical tips on how to cultivate gratitude through some suggested questions that can help them process what they think and feel.
Order the ”Today I Choose to be Grateful ”| Gratitude Card Set in our Lazada store.
For more inspiration in creating a family culture that promotes emotional connection, visit our Emosyon Bibo® website and follow our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
Ackerman, Courtney E. 2022. “Benefits of gratitude: 28+ surprising research findings.” Positive Psychology, November 18, 2022/April 12, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/.
Clea, Simon. 2022. “Snapshot of pandemic’s mental health impact on children.” The Harvard Gazette, April 21, 2022. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2022/04/early-snapshot-of-pandemics-impact-on-childrens-mental-health/.
Froh, Jeffrey J., William J. Sefick, and Robert A. Emmons. 2008. “Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being.” Journal of School Psychology 46, no. 2: 213-233. https://doi.org:10.1016/j.jsp.2007.03.005.
Gavin, Mary L. 2018. “Gratitude.” KidsHealth, August 2018. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gratitude.html.
Gayatri, Maria, and Mardiana Dwi Puspitasari. 2022. “The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on family well-being: A literature review.” The Family Journal. https://doi-org.libproxy.tuni.fi/10.1177/10664807221131006.
Nguyen, Simone P., and Cameron L. Gordon. 2020. “The relationship between gratitude and happiness in young children.” Journal of Happiness Studies 21: 2773–2787. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00188-6.
Popovic, Zoja. 2020. “4 easy ways to teach kids gratitude.” Today’s Parent, October 8, 2020. Accessed February 1, 2023. https://www.todaysparent.com/family/how-to-teach-kids-gratitude/.