Last week, Parenting Playbook talked about how parents can teach kids the meaning behind feeling thankful. This week, let’s look at the positives for parents in the practice of gratitude.
As we mentioned last week, not only does a sense of gratitude feel good but research shows that this pleasant emotion and its expression result in higher levels of happiness, vitality, optimism, and hope. People who consciously experience appreciation also derive physical health benefits, according to some of the researchers on gratitude. All of these positives related to feeling grateful lead to a greater satisfaction with life.
In a study done at the University of California, Davis, researchers examined the effect of consciously counting your blessings—and writing them down. At the completion of their research, the findings indicated that those who kept a gratitude journal—writing down five things for which they were thankful each week—exercised on a more regular basis, felt better about their lives in general, reported fewer physical complaints, were more optimistic about what was coming up the following week, and were more likely to report helping someone else. Those that kept a gratitude journal also enjoyed greater levels of alertness and energy than did the other groups.
Some of the participants kept a daily journal, and those who did derived even more benefits than those who did their recording weekly, based on the reports at the end of the study. Journal entries for grateful feelings can include nearly anything—such as “socks in bed on a cold night” and “playful words like Kabuki dance, doodads, red carpet treatment”—anything can go in your journal.
One of the best ways to teach our children to count their blessings is to model and practice counting our own. Practicing gratitude is good for you and your child.