Studies Show That Teaching Gratitude in School Makes Kids Happier

Research has shown that practicing gratitude has several benefits for children: it "increases their positive emotions and optimism, decreases their negative emotions and physical symptoms, and makes them feel more connected and satisfied with school and with life in general.  But most of these studies have been done with upper-middle-class students in middle or high school. The results raised the question: Would these findings hold true for other types of students, particularly younger kids or kids in high-risk situations?"

Two recent studies offer an answer.  Psychologist Jeffrey Froh and his colleagues created a gratitude curriculum for elementary school children (ages 8-11).  The experiment took place over five weeks, with one  gratitude lesson per week. The students’ outcomes were tested right after the program ended and then several more times, up to five months later.  The results show that the students exposed to the curriculum demonstrated significant improvements in grateful thinking and grateful mood, as well as grateful behavior.  "Compared to kids who didn't get the lessons in gratitude, these children showed steady increases in grateful thinking, gratitude, and positive emotions over time. In fact, the differences between the two groups were greatest five months after the program ended, indicating that the gratitude lessons had lasting effects."

Mindy Ma and colleagues surveyed almost 400 African-American adolescents (ages 12 -14) in low-income, low-performing urban schools to see if gratitude would help protect them from stresses they faced at home and school.  The researchers were interested in the effects of two different kinds of gratitude: moral-affect gratitude (grateful emotion in response to things others do that benefit us), and life-orientation gratitude (focus on and appreciation for the positives in our lives and the world).  Their results suggest that "those who were more likely to feel grateful to others also scored higher on academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement; those who appreciated the positives in general scored lower on risky behaviors like drug use and sexual attitudes and activity. One factor, positive family relationships, was associated with both types of gratitude. In other words, at least for this group of students, moral-affect gratitude seemed to enhance the positive conditions of their lives, while life-orientation gratitude seemed to buffer against some common high-risk pitfalls."

The researchers conclude that "gratitude can play a critical role in protecting at-risk adolescents from the difficulties of their lives, possibly by broadening their mindsets and building their personal resources and coping skills."

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Frederique Laubepin


  1. Amazing post.Thank you very much for this important post.

  2. Practicing gratitude increases the position of students' sure feelings and make that profit them. Although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use of assignment help australia and practices in school.