PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With Santa Claus getting ready to make the rounds, kids are excited about gifts, but pediatricians says parents should make sure their children also learn about being grateful and caring about others. Studies show that children who “count their blessings” reap some important benefits, including experiencing less depression and envy, and having a more positive outlook on life.
Doctors say this holiday season should also include lessons on gratitude.
It’s the season for giving and receiving and for children, along with their gifts, pediatricians say it’s important to also teach lessons about gratitude.
For the McLaughlin family, they talk about being grateful and practicing kindness. Alexandra McLaughlin, a mother of four, says one way she teaches her children to be more grateful is to emphasize chores.
“They can see what is being part of a family, that it’s not mom does all the work and I can just sort of breeze through,” McLaughlin said. “So, my hope is also to have my boys and my daughters to do well when they’re adults.
“The first tip for teaching is to say thank you all the time,” pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann said.
Berchelmann, a mother of seven, says that’s the best place to start.
“As it becomes a habit as that child learns, at the end of every activity, every time they’re departing, they’re saying thank you as a full sentence, they’re teaching themselves gratitude,” Berchelmann said.
She says another way to teach gratitude is to keep some kind of journal.
Each week, everyone in the McLaughlin family writes down at least one thing they are thankful for and puts it in the jar.
“It gives them something tangible to understand what it means to be grateful because there’s so much talking at your children and so even though the younger ones are great at saying please and thank you, they may not know why they’re saying it,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said it’s all about taking the time to appreciate each other and what you have.
Experts say another way of teaching gratitude and appreciation is by volunteering or giving to those less fortunate. One study showed that children whose parents talked to them frequently about giving to charity were more likely to participate in charitable efforts.