Saying Thank You And Meaning It

©istock.com/staceynewman

©istock.com/staceynewman

It’s very easy to say the words, “Thank You”.
“Thank You.”  See, I just said it.
But to say it and mean it are two different things, and can be difficult concepts to teach children.  In the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving, the holidays and the New Year I decided this would be a good opportunity to lay down the groundwork for defining gratitude to my 4-year-old.  Here are some simple grown up concepts, which I have turned into kid-friendly tricks to teach my daughter how to be thankful, and really understand the significance behind them.

ABC’s To Donating
I’m not going to lie.  I love spoiling my daughter.  I love seeing the big smile that automatically appears on her face when I buy her a toy, craft or a princess dress she’s been dreaming about.  I am even guilty of purchasing unnecessary knick-knacks for her just because I can’t handle hearing the disappointment in her voice.  But when her school sent out a form about a clothing drive, I decided this was a great chance for me to explain and show her the importance of giving back and helping families in need. Instead of running solo to the store to pick up some pajamas and outerwear for the fundraiser, I hopped on the chance to turn this act of charity into a fun activity for both of us.  I explained to her the meaning of donating and put her in charge of selecting the pieces.  She was so excited to be given this big girl responsibility.  It took her less than two minutes to choose pink pjs for a girl and blue for a boy (we’ll work on her creativity next time around ☺).

Three Words That Begin With G…
It’s hard for toddlers to understand the real value of money.  When they ask for or receive a gift, the last thing they are thinking about is the price tag that comes with the present. But who can blame them, (I’m in my 30’s and sometimes get tripped up from this concept too).  I needed to find a clever way to explain that being handed a gift is a very nice gesture, but shouldn’t be expected.  I gave her a quick lesson about three important words that begin with G, giving, generosity and being gracious. I was pretty sure she got the gist and then she asked me for cookies and milk.

Mommy and Daddy Need To Do Their Homework Too
I overheard my husband telling our daughter that if she needs anything, she should just pick up the phone and call her grandparents.  Although, this was an obvious joke to both of us, I feared that she could take this statement as 100% true, potentially creating our own “Veruca Salt.”  No one can forget the infamous bratty character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who expected to get everything by simply saying, “I want it now, daddy.” If you want to teach your kids how to be appreciative, then you have to practice what you preach.  My first step is not being disappointed for what I don’t have, but being thankful for what I already do have (including the simple pleasures in life like the delicious cup of coffee I just brewed for myself).

Wishing all of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.