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OPEN HAVERSACK: Forgotten words

Rhonda Blackman

OPEN HAVERSACK: Forgotten words

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Thank you – two very small words that seem to be forgotten these days. These words are a form of showing gratitude or appreciation to others.
We live in a culture that does not seem to support the concept of gratitude. It actually teaches the exact opposite. Television commercials promote the idea that we are entitled to have whatever we want, whenever we want it, however we get it. They supply us with a steady stream of objects of our desire, so that we are never entirely satisfied with what we already have, but we crave for more.
Yet this box has become the babysitter infiltrating the mind of children and parents. Some parents give their children everything they want, when they want it and the children show little or no regard for the hardships and selflessness involved in giving these possessions. They feel entitled to what they receive. You the parent need to teach children basic humility in order for them to understand that life doesn’t owe them everything they could possibly want or desire.
Gratitude does not come naturally in our culture, therefore parents need to make a conscious effort to teach it. In today’s “give me, give me” world parents are faced with the challenge of rearing thankful children. However, it’s important to meet that challenge head-on by teaching children how to show their appreciation for what they have, and what people have done for them. Children need to understand that when they are given a gift or an advantage, there is a sacrifice made by the giver.
Teach and encourage children to say thanks verbally, whether via a telephone call, in a letter or in person. A simple “thank you” given often and sincerely introduces your child to the graciousness of appreciation. It is unfortunate that some parents wait only for the occasions highlighted by the calendar to materially allow their child to show some form of gratitude to others in the form of cards, flowers or candy.
These material gestures are important but what is more important is a simple thank you that should be automatically spoken throughout the year. Parents need to teach children that they do not need a specific day to celebrate the love, caring and selflessness that people show towards them throughout the year.
Parents are not exempted, they too need to model that behaviour and allow their children to see and hear them expressing gratitude to others.
As children observe the way parents view and deal with people, things, and situations, they will learn a valuable lesson in how to also show appreciation.
Practise acts of kindness. Let your child see you sharing and allow your child to share some of what he or she has with others. Remember, parents are the first teachers of children and children are done an enormous favour when habits of gratitude are encouraged.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a reviewer with the British Educational Research Journal and a member of the American Educational Research Association. Email: [email protected]