The Relationship Between Gratitude and Happiness in Young Children

Abstract

Over the past decades, much progress has been made in understanding the relationship between gratitude and well-being in adults, school-aged children, and adolescents (see Emmons and Mishra, in: Sheldon, Kashdan, Steger (eds) Designing positive psychology: taking stock and moving forward, Oxford University Press, New York, pp 248–262, 2011; Watkins in Gratitude and the good life: toward a psychology of appreciation, Springer, New York, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7253-3). However, relatively little is known about this relationship in young children (see Park and Peterson in J Happiness Stud 7(3):323–341, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-3648-6). The aim of the present study was to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between gratitude and happiness in young children. The general propensity for gratitude, domain-specific gratitude, and trait happiness were measured in a group of children (N = 80, Mage = 5.04 years). The results revealed that children’s domain-specific gratitude predicted children’s happiness above and beyond a general propensity for gratitude. These findings establish the presence of a relationship between gratitude and happiness in children by age 5 years, and reveal the type of gratitude, namely domain-specific, that is associated with happiness among young children.

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Acknowledgements

We are deeply grateful to the children who participated in this study and to the parents and schools for their support. We would also like to thank our research assistants, Scott Ferris, Taylor Gwyn, Ashley Morton, Lauren Schmidt, and Ashley Parham for their hard work.

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Nguyen, S.P., Gordon, C.L. The Relationship Between Gratitude and Happiness in Young Children. J Happiness Stud 21, 2773–2787 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00188-6

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Keywords

  • Children
  • Gratitude
  • Happiness
  • Well-being