New studies show that gratitude has positive effects on children and teens (proving your mother was correct about writing those thank you notes). The Wall Street Journal reports:
The mere act of giving thanks has tangible benefits, research suggests. A 2008 study of 221 kids published in the Journal of School Psychology analyzed sixth- and seventh-graders assigned to list five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. It found they had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction three weeks later, compared with kids assigned to list five hassles.
Another study examined 1,035 high-school students outside New York City. The study, published in 2010 in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found that those who showed high levels of gratitude, for instance thankfulness for the beauty of nature and strong appreciation of other people, reported having stronger GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.
Further, teens who strongly connected buying and owning things with success and happiness reported having lower GPAs, more depression and a more negative outlook. “Materialism had just the opposite effect as gratitude—almost like a mirror,” says study co-author Jeffrey Froh, associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University.