Evidence-based strategy to raise grateful children

Gratitude involves showing a sense of happiness, thankfulness or appreciation. What are the benefits associated with gratitude and how can you raise a grateful child? Results from a recent study show some interesting insights.

 Advantages of gratitude

Gratitude is related to many benefits in adulthood, for example:

  • Greater life satisfaction
  • Less physical health problems and psychopathology
  • Better social functioning
  • More wellbeing

 Teaching children to be grateful

Parents play an important role in fostering gratitude in their children. One strategy parents can use to foster gratitude in children is to select goals and activities in which children can participate. For example, a goal could be to teach your child how to be grateful. Setting gratitude-related goals and activities may help children to be grateful by seeing and doing, which may be more effective than reading or hearing about gratitude. During these activities, children can see other peers and adults expressing grateful behavior and they can imitate these social models.

 Grateful parents, grateful children

This study examined how parent’s and children’s gratitude are related. In addition, the study explored the effectiveness of using gratitude-related goals and activities.

  • Grateful parents had children with high levels of gratitude.
  • Parents high in gratitude were more likely to set gratitude-related goals.
  • These parents were also more likely to let their children engage in activities that promote gratitude.
  • Extroverted parents, optimistic parents and religiously involved parents were more likely to set gratitude-related goals and activities.


Select gratitude-related goals for your child and expose your child to gratitude-related activities that fit with your family’s needs. By engaging in these activities, your child will be more prepared to experience and express gratitude. Remember that children model parents in every way. Set a good example yourself: grateful parents raise grateful children.

Examples of goals:

  • Show thankfulness for what your child has been given
  • Teach your child how it feels to be grateful
  • Teach your child how to express gratitude

Examples of activities:

  • Set up a dinner or social event with other families who show gratitude often
  • Choose a school for your child that values or teaches about gratitude
  • Set up play dates for your child with other children who value or show gratitude

 More information

Rothenberg, W. A., Hussong, A. M., Langley, H. A., Egerton, G. A., Halberstadt, A. G., Coffman, J. L., … & Costanzo, P. R. (2017). Grateful parents raising grateful children: Niche selection and the socialization of child gratitude. Applied Developmental Science, 21(2), 106-120.

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