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Gratitude and Self-Esteem?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

How is gratitude related to self-esteem, and can it play a role in building childhood confidence?

A young man holding a small child in one arm, and carrying a second baby on his shoulders

You probably guessed it from the title, but the answer to whether gratitude plays a role in childhood self-esteem is a resounding YES! In addition to the many wonderful benefits of practicing gratitude (such as developing healthier relationships, supporting better sleep, and reducing materialism, to name a few), gratitude can help children build a positive sense of self. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why!

  1. Gratitude promotes positive thinking, which in turn can help children feel more optimistic about their own future. When they develop a habit of focusing on the good things in their lives, they are more likely to believe that life will continue to be good. With that core belief in place, they will feel more confident in themselves and their ability to attain success and happiness.

  2. Focusing on the good things in life also helps children learn to appreciate what they have. By teaching children to be grateful for what they have (both material and immaterial), they are less likely to focus on what they perceive to be lacking. This reduces feelings of envy or jealousy towards others, making them feel more content with themselves.

  3. Gratitude also encourages empathy and kindness towards others. When children learn to express gratitude for the people and things in their lives, they are more likely to open their minds to the circumstances of others. They may show more kindness and empathy as a result, which can help them build positive relationships. It’s been shown that positive relationships and feeling connected to our communities is a major driver of overall self-esteem.

  4. By focusing on positive aspects of their lives, children will also build resilience. Through gratitude, they will feel more capable of overcoming challenges, making them better equipped to handle the adversity and setbacks that life will inevitably throw at them. Self-esteem, confidence and resilience are all intertwined!

Improving self-esteem is just one of the many positive things that come from teaching our children to practice gratitude. And, actually, it’s hard to think of a reason NOT to promote this habit. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s easy to implement!

Here’s an idea if you’re looking for a simple way to get started. Help your child jot down one thing they are grateful for every night before bed on a sticky note and hang it up. You can designate a small to switch out each week, or you can create an entire gratitude wall to help solidify this concept for your child and allow them to look back on all the things they are grateful for.

There are endless methods you could use, but it’s not the presentation that really matters. It’s the practice itself. So do whatever works best for you!


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Looking for childhood self-esteem resources? Head over to the Resources section of our site for FREE coloring pages and worksheets, and don't forget that the Proud to Be Me Activity Book is packed with fun activities to help children understand and build confidence. Check it out here!

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