More Than Thank You

Developing Gratitude

So, the holidays are over and all the presents have been unwrapped.

I doubt that any of your children found that they’d won a million dollars in a lottery. But suppose they had? Or even that they’d gained $100, something which is much more likely. What would they have done with that money?

We found out, by asking children aged 7 to 14 what they’d do if they won $100 in a lottery. Would they rush out to spend it on things for themselves? Would they buy things for family and friends? Would they decide to save it? Would they donate it to charity.

You can read the highlights of the study here: http://emeraldgrouppublishing.com/promo/kiang_blog.htm
and there’s also a link there to the paper on this topic that we published in the journal Young Consumers.

What you’ll see is that the children’s first impulse wasn’t to go and buy stuff. They were actually more likely to want to save their money. In fact, those children who were most materialistic (that is, they were most likely to say that they wanted to live in a big house filled with cool things and have a job that paid them a lot of money) were more likely to want to save their money.

What was most interesting, though, was that children who were more grateful to others for the help they get were more likely to express their gratitude by “paying it forward.” They were the children who were most likely to want to spend some of their lottery winnings on giving to charity.

Encouraging children to be grateful to their benefactors (people who have helped them or given them something they want or need) encourages them to think more positively not just about those benefactors but about other people who might need their help.

Wouldn’t gratitude be a nice thing to be able to win in a lottery!

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