Parents, we teach our kids at a very young age what we consider basic manners. At the height of those small teachable moments is saying two words. “Thank you”. This month we talk a lot about gratitude and being grateful but should we expect others to be and if we do…is that okay? Let’s explore the topic.
Gratitude is one of those things that can brighten your mood when you feel it personally but also when you see it in someone else. One of the exercises that I have practiced myself but also suggest to my clients is to try gratitude lists. The practice of writing down even one small thing that we are thankful for can change our outlook. It forces us to look for the good in our day, in our lives and in our chaotic world. It can be much easier to wake up and think about a long to-do list, a busy work day and a dirty home. The perspective changes when we think about the fact that we woke up and that alone is something to be grateful for. We also switch our mindset when we welcome a long to-do list because we are valuable and needed, a busy work day because we are capable and talented, and a home that needs to be nurtured and cleaned because we have a place to stay. Did you see that? I just changed the narrative.
Now…a bit of a deeper dilemma…what do we do when we give a gift and we do not get a thank you? What about when we celebrate someone and they ignore our efforts? I love to buy coffee for the person behind me in line at Starbucks. Typically I get a resounding “thanks” and a domino effect ensues. This makes me feel awesome…why?? Because the person behind me is grateful. What about when the person behind me does not acknowledge my effort? This has only happened once during my coffee gifting. I was at Starbucks and my son was a small baby. I reveled at the fact that he would witness kind gestures and goodwill at such an early age. I bought my own coffee and a drink for the man behind me in line. He said absolutely nothing. He took his coffee did not even crack a smile at me or my curious baby and he left the shop. I felt terrible. Did he realize that he was supposed to say “thank you” I thought? Why was he ungrateful? I asked myself. I realized I should not ask myself about the man who was a stranger to me and I a stranger to him…I should ask myself why I cared about him acknowledging my effort. This is where I needed to work on my own character.
I teach my child gratitude. I share techniques with my clients. Gratitude is a good thing but I should not do things simply to get other people give me gestures of gratitude I should do it because it is the right thing to do. I recently bought a lovely bouquet of flowers in a vase for someone. They did not say thank you. They did receive them. I felt terrible. The flowers were not inexpensive. My thoughts were negative when I did not receive a grateful gesture back but here we are again right?
As I teach my kid how to be grateful and how to be kind I also have to teach him that we should not expect anything in return for doing something thoughtful. Parents, I am still learning this lesson but I need to do it fast because my four-year-old is watching me and he knows when his mom’s mood is up or down. My mood should not change because someone said thank you to me for a kind gesture. My mood should be lifted because I had the ability to do it. What about you? How do you show your children examples of gratitude?
-Write thank you cards for your child’s teachers signed by you and your child
-Bring a treat to your daycare or pre-school for the administrative team to share
-Choose a person of the day to celebrate as a family
-Take one of your babysitters out for a nice dinner all expenses paid for by the family