"Gratefulness is a knowing awareness that we are the recipients of goodness" —Robert Emmons
By Kristen S. Bourgault (Recycled from November 2013, Edition 1)
Of the many things we all strive to teach our children, perhaps one of the most important is gratitude. A life filled with gratitude is a life where we appreciate all that we have rather than constantly strive for something more. In many ways gratitude is at the heart of our own happiness—taking the time to be grateful for our blessings can help us to focus on the present and feel a sense of contentment. According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, “Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change peoples’ lives…In daily studies of emotional experience, when people report feeling grateful, thankful and appreciative, they also feel more loving, forgiving, joyful and enthusiastic.”
Children may seem ungrateful by nature. The words “please” and “thank you” are some of the very first that we teach them, and most of us find ourselves constantly repeating those phrases in an attempt to make them become second nature. From the time our kids are born, they are helped and supported by everyone around them, even if they do not have the insight to understand or appreciate it. It takes a significant amount of focus, energy and persistence to instill in our children a sense of gratitude for the life they have been given. For the youngest children, it may even be impossible for their developing minds to fully grasp the concept of gratitude. Based on research by Froh, Miller and Snyder, children do not seem to truly express or experience gratitude until around six to eight years of age.
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