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Feeling Grateful In Oyster Bay

Members of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School district are feeling full of gratitude these days. The inspiration to think, feel and act with more gratitude stems from last month’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) meeting in which Jeffrey J. Froh, PsyD presented his research findings in the field of gratitude.

SEPTA President and special education teacher Kevin McCarthy says, “Dr. Froh’s presentation on his newest book, Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, was a reaffirmation of how important being grateful as individuals can be. Dr. Froh was able to show, through his research, that the power of being grateful, and more importantly, teaching your children how to be grateful, can lead to a more positive, productive and fulfilling life. It was a wonderful topic that was well received by over 125 attendees. Our Special Education Parent Teacher Association was proud to present the program.”

Several attendees said the talk inspired them to make changes in their own lives. Parent Danielle Gangamella Taylor of Oyster Bay said, “it’s changed my life in so many ways. I made a point to make a gratitude visit after the talk. I think as parents we are always so hard on ourselves and I now think it’s important to take the time to appreciate our children and all the things we are doing well.”

School social worker Dr. Carole Brown said she shared the information from the talk with many of her students and had her leadership groups write a gratitude letter.  On a more personal note, she shared that after getting caught in a downpour and becoming completely drenched running from her car to her office she thought to herself, “I am so grateful I didn’t have to take the bus.”

Froh is an associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University and has been given a grant from The John Templeton Foundation to study gratitude in children and adolescents. His findings are astounding. He says, “Grateful teens are happier and more likely to give social and emotional support to others, are more satisfied with their lives, are physically healthier and tend to have higher GPAs.” Additionally, he says, “Gratitude and social integration create an upward spiral.” Because grateful teens are more likely to give social and emotional support to others, they tend to foster better relationships, therefore receiving more support and becoming more socially integrated.

Based on his research, Froh states, “Gratitude is accessible to anyone at anytime.”

Helping teens to become more grateful can be as simple as asking them to keep a gratitude journal. Students who kept gratitude journals saw an increase in happiness even months after stopping the writing.  

Lorraine Miller of Port Washington is the author of the journal From Gratitude to Bliss. She shared, “Gratitude is an essential ingredient for life success and the work that Jeff and his team are doing is vital to the health and happiness of our children.”

With young children, Froh recommends cultivating gratitude by encouraging them to share what was the best part of their day, foster an appreciation for nature and modeling, modeling, modeling. He says, “Empathy is the building block of gratitude,” therefore modeling empathy in the way that we treat others is imperative in raising grateful kids.