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Grandparents Teach, Too — Gifting’s last step: ‘Thank you’

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” — Cicero

Teaching children to be appreciative of others is an important goal. However, helping children learn to value the attention and gifts from others is a big task. It takes time and effort. To develop this awareness, families can lead by being good models: saying thank you and writing thank you notes in front of them.

Encouraging “thanks”

As our children’s first teachers, families can encourage children to foster a sense of gratitude and to practice the art of being aware of the feelings of others.

Learning to be appreciative, to say “thank you,” “I’m sorry” or to give a compliment, can develop naturally over time as young children listen to the conversations of others. By making the effort to explain why you are saying these things and by coaching kids to remember to respond politely, you are helping foster awareness of feelings and a habit of kindness.

Practicing “thanks”

Many children need some practice with an adult to counter the natural inclination to ask for more and more or to ignore or make hurtful statements about gifts they don’t like. This situation is a perfect time to reflect about feelings, and to think about words or actions that make others feel appreciated. Often, a quick phone call or Facetime session to send a “thank you” or “sorry” message is welcomed.

Writing “thanks”

As Albert Schweitzer says, “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

While a verbal “thank you” or “please” is a good first step, many parents, friends or relatives are happy to receive a little card or note from a child. All you need are paper, crayons or markers, and an envelope.

In a quiet moment, help your child think about a special gift item or perhaps a gift of time or attention. Make it a little project to write or draw a picture, address an envelope and send it off to the gift giver.

An old card turned into a postcard works, too. Very young children can draw and decorate, then dictate a simple sentence and print their name. Older children can practice their cursive, an important skill to be able to read the cursive of others across the generations.

Some books about feelings, being thankful and how can we help others to feel appreciated and happy include: “Lots of Feelings” by Shelley Rotner, “Feelings” by Aliki and ” The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr.

For more, see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com; wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and podcasts; Pinterest; Facebook; YouTube since 2009.

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