SUNDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- For anyone raising teenagers, the idea of helping them feel grateful for everyday things may seem like a long shot; just getting them to mumble a "thank you" every now and then can be a monumental accomplishment.
But a new study suggests that helping teens learn to count their blessings can actually play an important role in positive mental health. As gratitude increases, so do life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes, hope and even academic performance.
Giacomo Bono, study author and a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, said it seems there's not much time these days for teens to pause and consider their appreciation of their friendships, activities they enjoy or even the food on the table.
But among those kids who say they feel grateful for a variety of things in their lives, Bono found an association with critical life skills such as cooperation, a sense of purpose, creativity and persistence.
"Gratefulness allows us to understand what matters most to us and translate that to a broader goal," said Bono. He is expected to present his research Sunday at the American Psychological Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The study involved 700 students living in New York, aged 10 to 14. The participants were white (67 percent), Asian American (11 percent), black (10 percent) and Hispanic (1.4 percent), and about 11 percent were other ethnicities or did not identify their race. The researchers took into account for socioeconomic factors and parental educational attainment, but not for religious beliefs.
The study authors defined grateful teens as having a disposition and moods that enabled them to respond positively to the good people and things in their lives, Bono said.
Students completed questionnaires in school at the beginning of the study and then four years
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