Helping Children Express Gratitude
Did you know that being grateful actually benefits our mental health? Research has shown that increases feelings of reward, improves sleep, and reduces depression and anxiety.
Here’s the science: The “feeling of gratitude activates several parts of the brain. The ventral tegmental area is a part of the brain associated with reward and motivation. The hypothalamus is associated with basic tasks such as eating, sleeping, hormone secretion and stress. The septum is associated with bonding. When we feel and express thanks, these parts of the brain light up.” (Kader, 2015).
But children and youth, especially those with special needs and those who have experienced traumatic stress, need help to learn gratitude. Like social and academic skills, some children do best when explicitly taught how to recognize opportunities for, and how to express, gratitude.
Here’s the How-To: Read over and watch these great, practical and simple ideas for parents, caregivers and professionals:
- Tips for Parents and Caregivers to Foster Gratitude, from the National Association of School Psychologists
- Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids from Greater Good at University of California at Berkeley (includes video links)
- Three Ways to Practice Gratitude from Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Twelve Tips for Teaching Gratitude from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Training Kids for Kindness (using Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) from Greater Good
Oakwood School is hosting How to Raise a Grateful Child, a presentation by Cathi Cohen, LCSW, Director of In Step, PC on Friday, December 9, 9:00 am Oakwood School 7210 Braddock Rd., Annandale; Register at: www.oakwoodschool.com/_infrastructure/Forms/index.aspx?FormId=52
Kader, H. (2015, November 23). http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/the-science-of-gratitude-and-how-kids-learn-to-express-it/