You rush home from your part-time job - a job that you chose so to spend more time with your children - to change clothes at the speed of lightening so you can rush again to the pizza restaurant to buy a couple of pizzas’ for your child’s school party. You catch every red light between the restaurant and the school, and then as you whip into the parking lot, instead of a bird whispering in your ear, it was more of a lion’s roar when you realized that it was not pizza you were to get – it was cupcakes! Dreading the look of disappointment on the faces of 30 children, because you were the only parent to bring desserts, you turn the car around at a rate of speed that Mario Andretti would have been proud of and zip to the grocery store only to find upon exiting that a runaway shopping cart dinged your already dinged van.
You finally return to the school where you had to park a mile away because of the other parents that did not forget their correct party contribution, and carry with pride your delectable yummies with “Parent of the Year” written across your forehead because not only do you have cupcakes - that you remembered - but pizza also, and your child, instead of gushing with gratitude, frowns and grumbles, “You’re late!”
Manners, gratitude, respect – it is something that never stops when raising children. They are never too young for you to start teaching it, and never too old to be reminded to use what they have learned.
For children to learn gratitude, to feel thankful, they have to see it, hear it, and feel it, to understand it:
- Thank you for helping me clean today. I was so grateful for your help, and your toys are right where they need to be when you’re not playing with them.
- Grandpa bought you a couple of new tools today to use for your school project, be sure to write him a thank you card. He’ll be grateful for your kindness as you are grateful for his.
- I enjoyed baking cookies with you earlier, I was really thankful for your help.
- You cleaned the bathroom by yourself! I am so thankful for you.
- She helped you picked up your crayons today? I bet you were so grateful!
Letting a child know when they do something right is more important than telling them when they do something wrong. Both are instrumental, but sharing with your child in a calm, constructive way, and moments of when he/she should have shown more gratitude is, in my opinion, one of the most important roles of parenting.
It is not always easy, but it is necessary to their emotional growth, and in the long run, they’ll be grateful for your steadfast dedication to them.