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10 Science-Backed Benefits of Practicing Gratitude With Kids

Only recently have scientists begun to study the benefits of gratitude.


Vitamin G, as some like to call it, plays a critical role in happiness. Focusing on the positive boosts body, mind, and spirit. It gives us energy, inspires us, and transforms us. In a nutshell, it provides life with meaning by thinking of life as a gift. Don’t you want to give this gift to your children?

Top 10 Benefits of Gratitude

Dr. Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He conducted studies involving gratitude journals and found that when people regularly engage in gratitude, they experience measurable psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits:

  1. Feel better about their lives overall
  2. Experience higher levels of positive emotions like optimism, enthusiasm, love, and happiness
  3. Are kinder and more generous to others
  4. Have fewer physical problems including pain
  5. Exercise more regularly and eat healthier
  6. Sleep better
  7. Visit the doctor more regularly for checkups
  8. Feel less stressed
  9. Able to cope with stress more effectively and recover more quickly from stressful situations
  10. Live longer–on average, being thankful adds 7 years to our lives!

How It Works

Why does saying thank you have so many benefits for us? When we count our blessings, we interrupt the cycle of negative and fearful thoughts, which allows the stress system in our bodies to recover. Research shows that when we are thankful, we love our lives and want to make sure we stick around long enough to enjoy them. Also, when we receive praise from others, our brain releases the chemical dopamine, which encourages us to do more to receive such praise. This makes us want to thank others and make them feel good as well.

How To Teach Children Gratitude

In her book 10 Mindful Minutes, Goldie Hawn explains that being thankful is not a natural instinct; children need to be taught how to do it. She asks parents to be a good example to their children by thanking them often. It is important to explain to our children why they are being praised.

Another important tip is to be careful not to judge how our children express gratitude. Young children under age seven may not fully grasp the concept. It is not what they are thankful for, but that they are learning how to express gratitude that matters. If they want to be thankful for a toy, that is okay.

Keeping a gratitude journal is the backbone of gratitude scientific research.

Anytime you read about gratitude, you will be asked to write down five points you are thankful for that day or week on an ongoing basis. Over time, you will begin to experience the benefits of gratitude such as stress reduction and optimism.

I tried the traditional journal approach when I first learned about gratitude and it did not work for me. I found it repetitive and boring, to be perfectly blunt.

This is why I started my nightly ritual of the gratitude prayer with my children. That works for us, but each family needs to discover what is most effective for them. Plus, you don’t want it to become an annoying chore–it is supposed to make you happier after all!

Here are some ideas for fun, creative gratitude journals using a variety of media. As technology changes and our children learn more about what they can do with computers, iPads, and iPhones, we should show them how to use these tools for something positive–for making them feel better.

5 Ways to Keep Gratitude Journals With Your Kids

1 | Blog

My son just starting getting writing assignments in second grade using a student blog site. He loves seeing his words online and gets so excited when classmates comment on his posts. Why not set up a family gratitude journal blog (password protected, of course)? You can even involve grandparents and cousins, no matter how far they live. You could introduce this idea at the Thanksgiving table and challenge everyone to submit a post each week throughout the year.

2 | Audio Recording

Children love to hear their own voices. You can have them record their journal on a phone or iPad. Once you have the recordings, you can get really creative by posting them online for others to listen to or you can even put it to music and create a song or rap using highlights of what they said.

3 | Videos

Children also love watching videos of themselves. My daughter can spend hours watching herself on my phone. They will have a blast talking about what they are thankful for and watching it over and over. Maybe have them pretend to be reporters and their gratitude is the news of the day. Or they can act out scenes from the wonderful moments they had.

4 | Drawings

For children who are more visual or artistic, ask them to draw or paint what they are thankful for at the time. You can then put the artwork together in a book organized by month or year. Create your own handmade journal or take pictures and use Snapfish or an online slideshow to present the images.

5 | Collage

Looking for pictures in magazines or online to build a gratitude collage is a fun family project. And no artistic talent required! All that cutting is also a great way for your child to build fine motor skills.

I hope you enjoy saying thank you with your children in these innovative ways. You can mix and match these media as well, such as posting videos on your gratitude blog. Before you get started, I recommend you read some very helpful tips about gratitude journals from the Greater Good Science Center.

Please share your experiences so we can all learn from each other. Have fun!

Versions of this post originally ran at Happysciencemom.com

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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