I have always been a grateful girl, but I have made a conscious effort to be more vocal about it by saying thank you more often. I think it began during and after my divorce when people began to reach out and help me not because they had to but because they wanted to. I wasn’t used to being helped. I had become used to doing everything myself with a big smile on my face just so no one knew I might be struggling. I had learned not to ask for help because it would not be readily forthcoming and usually filled with resentment.
Even now, I still get amazed when someone does something to help me without even being asked that I can’t help but say thank you. It is a WIN-WIN situation for everyone. I read once that people who express more gratitude on a daily basis are actually more healthier than those who do not. Also, it shows appreciation to others, and lifts their spirits as well.
As I began to reflect back on thank you’s, gratitude, appreciating others, I realized that I don’t say thank you as much as I should as a mom. If I want the girls to know how it feels to say thank you to someone, then I needed them to begin feeling that way first. Its a misconception that thank you’s should be reserved for big things, big jobs, etc. It’s the little things that add value to our day a.We should take the time to acknowledge them and add an element of importance to them.
What began as sort of an experiment turned out to be an essential tool that I use as a mom. First, I began with asking if I could join Mina on the couch while she watched a show or played with her toys. Sometimes she wanted me there and said yes, sometimes she needed some space and said no. I wanted her to become aware of her space and think about if she wanted to share it with others. Beforehand, I would just plunk myself down next to her and join in. It didn’t always turn out fun when I did that. When she says yes and I sit to play with her now, I always end our session by saying, “thanks for letting me play with you. I really enjoyed our time.” This always brings a big smile to her face because just her being her she made someone (me) feel special.
I branched out with my thank you’s by saying thank you for:
- Sharing your day with me
- Thinking of a fun way to spend the morning
- Reading to me
- Helping me with dinner or with choosing what to make for dinner
- Helping each other with homework
- Putting on shoes
- Helping me walk up or down the mountain by holding my hand
- Keeping me company.
I took actions that they would normally do anyway and flipped them around in a way that they were helping me. They love to help and feel so proud of themselves for making me or Alex “feel” better. That motivates them to want to do more! Once they have learned what it is like to feel grateful, we try to bring that to the table as much as possible by asking what the “Tip Top 5 best things happened during the day” were at dinner. Each girl gets a turn to talk about what special thing happened that day and/or what they were grateful for. On the flip side, there are times when they aren’t so grateful. I have heard comments such as, “Is that ALL you brought for us?” To which, my reply is “Wow that comment doesn’t sound very grateful. What do you think?” It jolts them out of a selfish mindset and brings awareness to how to better express themselves in a more respectful, appreciative way.
We all want kind generous children who demonstrate gratitude and greet others with an open heart, but first we, as parents, need to model that behavior ourselves by first walking the talk. On that note: Thank you for taking the time to visit and read my blog today!