Of course we would like to have our children be grateful for gifts that they receive. I hear from parents that this isn't always easy to do. And when the kids do remember it isn't very heartfelt.
I remember when I was little, I took to creating my own Thank You notes or letters. It gave me joy to draw pictures and write words to family members and friends who had given me a gift. I know that it was what was expected of me also, but where did I get the feeling of gratitude? Does it come naturally? Will most kids just pick it up eventually?
I don't know all the answers to those questions, but I do have some ideas that may be helpful as you choose how to assist your kids in expressing their gratitude.
- What if your kids learned about gratitude by watching how you show your gratitude genuinely?
- What if your kids learned about gratitude from receiving gratitude from you for things that they have given to you and not just material things?
~ Have you written your child a note of thanks for doing a chore or something without any hassle?
~Have you taken a moment to just be with your child. to look them in the eyes and tell them that your world is so much better because of them?
~Have you texted your child to thank them for being considerate of your time?
- What if your kids knew that it was a choice to be thankful and not an enforced rule?
- What if your kids could experience different ways of expressing thanks?
A key element to keep in mind with showing gratitude is that a gift should be freely given without anything expected in return. When we teach our kids that they have to give thanks, we have just put a limitation on the gift. When we model for our kids what it feels like to gift back a word or thought of appreciation then the art of giving continues without any obligation required.
I remember many times when I would send gifts to family members and never hear a word from them. I wasn't even sure they had received the gifts, unless I asked them about it. I had the choice of taking it personally and begrudging them for not acknowledging my gift or I could be grateful for the joy I had in the giving of the gift and not allow that feeling to be negated with my judgments of them.
I am sure that this will raise many issues for those of us who had it drilled into us that if we didn't respond with thanks, we were "bad and terrible" people. There are many ways to show appreciation for others and our actions often speak louder than any words can express. When we continue to connect and care for others we show our gratitude and appreciation. When we stop making our kids wrong for not wanting to say thank you, we allow them to discover how they feel about gratitude as they continue to observe you and others and receive gratitude in their own experiences.