Parents' understanding of gratitude in children: A thematic analysis


Journal Article

© 2016 Elsevier Inc.. Current definitions of gratitude are based primarily on research with adults about their own experiences of gratitude, yet what children are grateful for, and how they understand, experience, and express gratitude may be very different. To better understand the forms that gratitude may take in children, we asked 20 parents in six focus groups to talk about their views of gratitude in young children. Parents had at least one child who was 6-years old. Sessions were conducted in the children's schools and lasted for one hour. Transcripts were examined using inductive analysis and three types of saturation were achieved. Parents described children as grateful for both tangible and intangible gifts, and identified multiple cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of gratitude in their children. Gratitude was understood to be a momentary experience, a more enduring feeling, and a way of being, suggesting a more continuous perspective regarding the duration of gratitude. Parents identified four cognitive and emotional barriers that are effectively opposites of gratitude. Parents also recognized that gratitude develops in children over time. Implications for understanding gratitude from a developmental perspective, as well as suggestions for future research in the development of children's gratitude are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Halberstadt, AG; Langley, HA; Hussong, AM; Rothenberg, WA; Coffman, JL; Mokrova, I; Costanzo, PR

Published Date

  • March 3, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 /

Start / End Page

  • 439 - 451

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0885-2006

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.01.014

Citation Source

  • Scopus