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Should we be teaching gratitude to the under-fives?

Research tells us that gratitude promotes well-being and life satisfaction, but is the practice of gratitude appropriate for very young children?

Research shows that gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness, and studies have shown that it can also lead to improved physical and mental health. Studies3 have also shown that children have the capacity for gratitude from early on in development and that cultural and environmental factors will influence how it is experienced and expressed. Australian researcher, Kathy Phipps says, "While children can be very energetic, they are also very purposeful about their play. This translates to them being good at paying attention to some of the smaller details because they are right there in the moment all the time. The research also suggests that it is possible to engage children in simple discussions about gratitude as soon as they can speak. Gratitude can be modelled for children who are not yet talking through positive verbal feedback and a smiling face.

So, the answer from research is a resounding YES! We should be modeling and teaching gratitude to under-fives.


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