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Teaching Gratitude by Naming Costs, Intent, and Benefits

Dr. Amy Campbell, counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia, shares powerful ideas for teaching gratitude and appreciation. Thank you, Amy for sharing this post.

‘Tis the Season to be…Grateful

Many researchers believe that gratitude is not something that comes naturally to children, but instead it must be modeled, learned, and weaved into the fabric of children’s lives. Here is a framework for parents to keep in mind when approaching gratitude with kids: Discussing intent: somebody put you first; discussing cost: what someone gave of themselves to me (time, money, energy, etc); and discussing benefit: what you got out of it. For example: “Hey Kelly, that was really kind of Jen to help you practice your spelling words when you were struggling (intent). It was nice of her to give up her recess time to help you (cost) and now you know your spelling list (benefit).

Also, here are some tips around gratitude with giving gifts any time of year:

Gift giving that helps children meet intrinsic goals. Gifts that provide personal growth or are shaped around kids’ interests (i.e., dance lessons, a keyboard, pottery kit) are typically linked more to feelings of lasting gratitude versus more temporary feelings of appreciation.

Identifying want and need. Remind kids that things they want and things they need are two different things. When kids say, “I need that new video game,” you can rephrase it as: “You need a new jacket. You want the new video game.” Some families give one want gift and one need gift.

The “gift” of volunteering. There is a multitude of research out there that displays the many benefits of children volunteering in their communities. These benefits include that children and adolescents are less likely to become involved in at-risk behaviors. Additionally, volunteer opportunities can provide real-life visuals of the many things children can be grateful for in their lives. One resource to learn more about volunteer opportunities for children in Austin is

Amy Campbell — Counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia

Ph.D. Counseling and Clinical Supervision (University of Virginia)

M.A. Counseling and School Counseling (West Virginia University)

B.S. Elementary Education and Special Education (Salem International University)


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