Gramps, Mac and I had gone out for a special ordinary dinner. You know the kind, where you celebrate nothing more than being together on a Tuesday. It’s special because you are together and ordinary because it’s a regular ordinary day. Afterwards, I reminded Mac to thank Gramps for taking us to dinner. He asked why he should thank Gramps “when he was happy to go to dinner with us”.
I never heard this reasoning before but knew we needed to stop right then and there to discuss the concept of gratitude. Children, of course, need to be taught the idea and the performance of “thanks”. They come into this world at the center of their own universe and naturally expect everything and everyone to do for them. The seed of gratitude must be planted by someone.
Every person has to tell every child that he must be thankful for every compliment and kindness done for him. Anyone who goes out of their way to improve a life in any way must be recognized in some manner. Gratitude and gratitude that is acted upon, is not optional. It is imperative, it is required.
Children do not instinctually know this. They have to be taught and reminded – often. I give a verbal nudge to my grandchildren every time. Every time someone compliments them or gives them a gift or does them a favor or does them any kindness at all.
Repetition is a great teacher, as is a good example. So I have to say “thank you” and show “thank you” whenever appropriate also. That way the little ones are surrounded by thankfulness and thoughtfulness.