We all teach our children to say Please and Thank you, but we must teach this together with the feelings of gratitude and thankfulness implied in those words…Please and Thank You are the magic words that can be either “good manners” or the most powerful words in one’s life when they contain the feelings they imply.
Some years ago, when my son was 3 or 4 years old, I was teaching him to say please and thank-you. One day, when we were leaving a friend’s house and she gave him some candy that he liked, I asked him to “say the magic words”. He looked at me with a questioning face and said “Abracadabra?”. Of course we all laughed, but this showed me that the manners I was teaching him were not tied to their meaning. Meaning should be embedded in manners.
Teaching these feelings of gratitude can be done by connecting with our children and people around us with thus expressing our feelings of gratitude through words, attitude and meaning. This way you not only teach them to be thankful, but they experience feeling good while being connected and thankful: to those around them; for all the good things in their life, and the wonderful people who help them. They will be thankful for having the opportunity of others’ company, to share moments and experiences with them, to support them and be supported by them… And the best part is that as you do this, you feel grateful as well, appreciated and appreciative, and we all get to genuinely live every day of our lives.
Gratitude involves recognizing there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we receive; and the sources of these good things, gifts and benefits are outside ourselves. Gratitude involves acknowledging all this good is given to us by others to help us achieve goodness in our lives.
Exposing our children to sincere appreciation and making them feel appreciated is the best way to teach them gratitude.
Teaching thankfulness by recognizing it, and encouraging it when they show it, teaching thankfulness through example. Raising a thankful child is achieved by helping them make their own meaning.
Every child expresses some kind of thankfulness and desire to be appreciated all the time. As parents, it is our role to model appreciation and reflect those genuine feelings back to the child. It can take warm words of recognition, love and appreciation, together with a smile, a hug and/or a kiss. Remember to include an explanation of what exactly you are recognizing and appreciating in your words, and that you follow up with what you say you will be doing. For example: If your child made you a drawing, you can smile and say with a sincere voice “What a beautiful drawing you just gave me, thank you! It has beautiful colors and it shows your effort and dedication. It makes me feel so good and happy inside. I will put it on my wall to see it every day.”
The exercise and duty of teaching our children gratitude is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction that it is extensively rewarded by performance.
In Sleep’n Sync, we are thankful to all the parents and children who follow us, especially those who have tried our programs; learning about the positive results in your children and family’s lives produces in us an immense feeling of appreciation and achievement.