Grateful kids are nice kids. We think you’d agree. Unpacking “nice” a bit, our research shows that grateful kids are happier, more satisfied with their relationships and school experiences, more prosocial, more committed to using their strengths to better their community, less envious, less depressed, and less materialistic. But can being grateful stop your kids from being violent? Scientific evidence suggests it can.
When people feel grateful they see themselves as the recipients of others’ kind acts, which in turn drives them to return favors and be prosocial toward benefactors and others. Indeed, recognizing the goodness in your life and acknowledging that many sources of that goodness lie outside yourself makes you want to return kind gestures to your benefactor and maybe even to strangers. This may be why gratitude may mitigate aggressive or violent tendencies. That’s what a fascinating 5-study paper by DeWall and colleagues (2012) suggests, to which we turn next.