This summer, I have been exploring different ways of cultivating gratitude with my kids. We’ve been keeping a little journal, writing notes to friends, and with two summer birthdays, we’ve done lots of thoughtful thank you notes.
We are looking at gratitude as not just being thankful for what we have, but who we have in our lives, as well. I want to make sure my kids become aware of the impact that other’s have in their lives. From family and friends to teachers, the postman, and their doctors–we are focusing on people who make their lives a little easier.
For most adults saying, “Thank you,” is probably a mindless habit. Even though I’d say my kids were polite guys — at 8 and 10, “Thank You” does not just roll of their tongue.
On several days this month, I have challenged my boys with the task of saying, “Thank You” to someone. We talked about our day and the possible times when some words of appreciation would be appropriate. We happened to be going to the doctor one of the days, so my sone chose our favorite nurse to say thank you to. I had to give him a nudge to remind him, but the nurse just beamed when he thanked her–what great reinforcement! We have chosen cashiers, neighbors, school secretaries, and camp counselors.
Each time, our little experiment has produced great results. Sometimes the boys have to be prompted…it certainly has not become a habit quite yet. And yes, of course, I want them to be genuine in their expressions of gratitude. But I do think it is important that we are talking about why all these people deserve a thank you and what contributions, big and small, they are making in our lives.
The conversations will continue and I will probably keep giving them nudges. But eventually, with all of our talk and modeling, I know it will become much more natural for them to express their gratitude.
Who will you say, “Thank You” to today???