Fathers interested in ensuring their children lead happy lives may need to give out a couple of lessons in gratitude, according to new research.
Todd Kashdan, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University, has found that the act of gratitude is "one of the essential ingredients for living a good life."
However, fathers who want to instill these lessons in their children may have to use some extra parenting skills with their sons, says Kashdan.
According to the professor’s most recent paper, which was published online at the Journal of Personality website, men are less likely to feel and express gratitude than women.
In one of Kashdan’s studies, he interviewed college-aged students and older adults, asking them to describe a recent experience when they received a gift. The researcher found women felt greater levels of gratitude with the gifts, while men reported feeling burdened and obligated to return the favor.
"The way that we get socialized as children affects what we do with our emotions as adults," said Kashdan. "Because men are generally taught to control and conceal their softer emotions, this may be limiting their well-being."
Some researchers have suggested children as young as 18 months can grasp the concept of gratitude, even without any verbal skills.
Fathers may be able to teach gratitude by incorporating the idea of thankfulness into regular conversations with their children. One way to foster this is for fathers to have their children talk about the good things that happened to them that day at dinner.
Also, charity may be a way to teach a child to be grateful. With keen parenting skills, fathers can talk to their children about donating some of their older, under-used toys to other children who may not have as much.
However, perhaps the best way is to lead by example and fathers who thank their children after they complete a task or help around the house can instill a lesson of gratitude.