Search icon


25th Aug 2022

This simple idea will help cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your children

Trine Jensen-Burke


Think about this for a moment: It is late, the kids are in bed, and you have finally curled up on the sofa with your hubby, a hot cup of tea and Netflix.

What do you talk about? Do you harp on about how wonderful today was, how good the kids were, how much you got done?

Or do you instead use this time to complain about everything that didn’t go your way today, how crazy the kids were, how much of a debacle taking them to do the shopping was and how dirty the fridge is?

Chances are it is the second one, isn’t it? Not because we are Negative Nellies, it’s just, well, venting feels good, no? And don’t feel bad, we are all guilty.

The thing is, turning the tables and focusing on the stuff that was good, might improve not only your mood and emotional wellbeing but even have massive positive benefits for your physical health too.

Enter the ‘three things rule.’

The concept, thought up by Americans Joyce Bono and Theresa Glomb, is a very simple idea, but one that could potentially make the whole household happier.

The rule is easy. At the end of each day, make a list of three good things that happened. Just three.

This list can just be something you talk about or you could jot the three things down in a diary or notebook.

And the impact will impress you. The three things rule (which is basically about practising gratitude) has been found to combat stress, boost well-being and even relieve headaches and muscle tension, and improve our sleep.

And you should get the whole family involved. To introduce the children to the rule, bedtime is a great time to share your three good things and ask them for theirs.  By doing this, you end the day on a real positive and the best part is that the rule can be built easily into your existing nighttime routine.

Bono and Glomb conducted an experiment for the Harvard Business Review, looking at the effects of the ‘three good things’ rule in the workplace. And what they found was this:

“This simple practice — writing about three good things that happened — creates a real shift in what people think about, and can change how they perceive their … lives.

It can also create a feedback loop that enhances its impact: we believe that people who reflect on good things that happened during the day are more likely to share those things with family and friends. Sharing positive events with others creates connections between people and bonds them with one another, further reducing evening stress.”

And while the research was done to see how the ‘three things rule’ would make you happier in the workplace, Bono and Glomb’s ongoing research suggest the effect of doing this at home would increase happiness and lower stress there too.

And let’s face it, don’t we all want more happiness in our lives?!