The Gift of Gratitude
Dr. Kimberley Carder, guest contributor
Length: 3 minutes
Christmas is right around the corner and with that comes sweater weather, gift giving, carol singing and a lot of eating. However, there is also the unfortunate ugly side of Christmas, which is seen excessively in cities like Hong Kong with sky-high levels of consumerism and opulence. As parents, this also comes with a silent pressure to keep up with the latest gadget trends and make sure your child isn’t missing out. But what if this year you were able to give your child the gift of gratitude, what would that look like and what effect would it have?
As adults we are well aware that a sense of gratitude is an important quality to bring with us through the day, but does this transcend to our younger counterparts? In short, yes. Research conducted over the past ten years shows gratitude has the strongest relationship to life satisfaction (Nansook Park and Christopher Peterson, 2006), and a strong correlation to social support as it acts as a protective factor against depression and stress for children and teens. Further studies have found that grateful teens (14-19 years old) are “more satisfied with their lives, use their strengths to better their community, are more engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, have higher grades, and are less envious, depressed, and materialistic.” (Froh et. al, 2008)
The benefits of instilling values centred around gratitude are ten-fold. But how does one foster gratitude, an immense emotion of appreciation, during a season that appears to be more about getting than giving?
- A Box of Hope
- Have everyone in your family make a Box of Hope, a gift program for underprivileged children in Hong Kong and Asia (www.boxofhope.org)
- Gratitude and Giving lists
- Instead of the typical Christmas wishlist, have each family member write down things they are thankful for that exists in their community, home and within themselves
- On a separate list, have everyone write down things they wish they could give their community, home and themselves. These do not have to be material things, you could wish to give yourself the gift of patience!
- Explore the meaning and origin of Christmas
- Sign up for community service opportunities
- Replace the traditional chocolate advent calendar with statements of gratitude for each day in the countdown to Christmas and reflect on them on Christmas Day
An important thing to remember is you are one of your child’s’ greatest role models. Remember to keep your own gratitude practice in check this holiday season through reminding yourself of all the blessings you have in your life that are greater than yourself such as your health, family and friends.
Dr. Kimberley Carder is a clinical psychologist at MindnLife. Having grown up in Hong Kong, she now works with children, teens and families to help them mindfully navigate growing up, and growing strong.
For any questions, she can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her mental health platform on Instagram @inpsychwithkim.