If you’re a parent you’ve probably done it dozens of times — telling your child to say “Thank-you” when someone has done something nice for them. We do it because it teaches our child to be polite and appreciative towards others. As parents, we want our children to understand the importance of being grateful.
But, is there more to showing gratitude ? Are there other benefits to understanding and expressing gratitude towards others? Our BC Curriculum includes it as an important learning objective, and some relatively new research even points to other potential benefits.
Social-Emotional Learning is a prominent part of BC’s new curriculum embedded within the Personal and Social Core Competency. Students learn to be aware of others’ perspectives, be considerate towards them and work to build a sense of community. Gratitude can be an important part of teaching a “positive sense of contribution towards one’s family, community, society, and the environment”. These are all great learning objectives both within classrooms but also in the world outside of schools.
But, is there even more to the importance of having children understand and express gratitude?
The Gift of Gratitude
An article from the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education helps to provide some greater insight into gratitude’s potential impact on our health and overall welfare. In the article, “Say Thank-You, The Gift of Gratitude”, the authors outline some research which supports the idea of a ‘sweet-spot’ for the learning and appreciation of gratitude — somewhere around the age of 7. It is at this time of development where children begin to develop a ‘more complex understanding of emotions — their own and those of others’. As children move into early adolescence there is a deepening of the appreciation for the perspectives of others, the reasons for their actions and the positive experience of being grateful.
During Adolescence the Door to Authentic Feelings of Gratitude Opens even Wider
Research is also indicating that genuine gratitude can have a very powerful effect on other personal areas of growth including our:
- physical health
- sleep quality
- stronger relationships
- promoting forgiveness
- feeling better about school and having better grades
- life satisfaction
Current research is now showing us that the act of understanding and expressing gratitude can also improve these other aspects of our health and life. By teaching our children to be grateful we may also be providing them with a whole new assortment of benefits beyond being appreciative of others — a pretty good bonus!
As we head into this long weekend of Thanksgiving, it is important for us to be appreciative of the people and things we have in our lives. And while there are always areas in which we need to seek improvement, we also have much to be thankful about.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I wish you the warmth of gratitude and its many benefits as we head into this long weekend.