I remember a lesson my mom and dad taught me when I was growing up. Anytime someone said something kind or did something nice for me, if I failed to respond with the appropriate two words, my mom or dad would remind me by asking, “What do you say?” The expected response was “Thank you!”
Sadly, we live in a world where we take so much for granted. Only in the U.S. do we find that most people drive cars with air conditioning and heaters. Drive up to a house, push a button to open the garage door, pull into a protected environment, close the garage door by pressing another button, walk into a climate-controlled house, open up a refrigerator full of food, and complain that there is nothing to eat! Then, we sit down on a comfortable couch, turn on a TV with over 100 channels to choose from, and complain that there is nothing to watch on TV. I’m sure you can relate to this; we walk into a closet full of clothes and complain, “I have nothing to wear!”
Marketing experts constantly flash ads before our eyes to remind us of all the things we don’t have and convince us to get all the things we need to solve our problems and make us healthier and happier. So what do we do? We upgrade for newer, faster, thinner, lighter, bigger or smaller.
What if this Thanksgiving, we focused on the blessings we do have instead of what we don’t have. What if we reminded our children of those two all-important words: “Thank you!”
The word “thank” comes from the word “think.” If we’re thinking about the blessings we do have, it should lead to “thanking.” If we’re not “thanking,” then we’re not really “thinking.” Think and thank are linked together.
What do the words “thank you” actually mean? When we say thank you to someone who has blessed us with a tangible or intangible blessing, it is a present action for a past transaction.
When you think about it, it’s impossible to be happy and ungrateful at the same time. Psychologists have found that gratitude is the key to unlocking so many other positive values and qualities in our lives and relationships.
The late Zig Ziglar once said gratitude “is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
Whenever we adopt an attitude of gratitude, it helps us to turn whatever we have into more than enough.
4 Ways To Teach Our Kids To Say ‘Thank You!’
1. SAY IT.
As parents, we must lead the way by example by having an attitude of gratitude ourselves. Verbally say thank you to each other in your home. Create an atmosphere of gratitude in your family and affirm and reward our kids when they say thank you. What gets rewarded gets repeated. Consider making gratitude a core value in your home.
2. WRITE IT.
In the age of texting and direct messaging, it may be the quickest and easiest way to express gratitude to someone, but I believe you can never replace the personal touch of a hand-written note to someone. It shows them that you thought enough of them to take a moment out of your busy day to let them know how grateful you are for them. Help your kids learn the value and impact of a physical, tangible, hand-written note of gratitude. It means more than you know to the person who is on the receiving end.
3. SHOW IT.
There is an excellent book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. It teaches that people receive love in five different ways: quality time, physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation. Take the time to learn your children’s love language and help them learn the love language of their closest friends and teachers, so they express gratitude to them in a way that connects best.
4. LIVE IT.
Remember, if we’re not “thanking,” then we’re not “thinking.” Before we can expect to see a thankful spirit displayed by our children or others, it must first begin with us. Imagine what our world would look like if everyone lived with a thankful heart and remembered to say those two all-important words.