“What are the magic words?”
My twins were three when a family member asked them this question, trying to encourage them to say thank you.
They both stopped and thought for a moment, and then replied…
I am not one to force or coerce my kids into saying please and thank you, which is why my girls didn’t know what magic word their Aunt was talking about, but just because I don’t push my kids into saying an automatic, rote ‘thank you’, doesn’t mean that I don’t think it is important.
Manners are important. Even those odd manners that you don’t quite understand, like ‘no elbows on the table’, are important if they mean something to others around you.
We often talk about how having good manners shows that you care and respect those around you, even if it they are not all that important to you personally. We also explain to our kids what sort of behavior might be respectful in certain situations. If my kids are are struggling, or forgetting, for any reason, I’ll step in and say it for them or give a gentle reminder.
But saying thank you goes beyond just rote phrases and good manners.
Thankfulness is important.
Being thankful, really genuinely grateful, is something I want my children to know, recognise, and express, rather than just parroting words or phrases when expected
Being grateful is so intertwined with happiness.
If you can notice the good things, even during hard moments, and be thankful for them you are more likely to manage the hard stuff and be happy, in spite of the tough times.
If you can notice the good in others, even when they are different, or difficult, and be thankful for them, you are more likely to feel happy, and to make others feel happy.
These days I can see how ‘thank you’ really is a lot like magic words.
I’ve wondered for a while how I can explain this to my kids. How can I teach them how important thankfulness is without making it into a boring lecture about manners, or into some wild woo-woo ‘yeah sure right mum’ topic?
While I’ve pondered this I’ve worked on my own gratefulness.
I’ve tried hard to notice the good things in day to day life and I’ve tried hard to notice the good things in my children, especially when things are difficult. I’ve tried hard to notice and be thankful.
Practicing being thankful has paid off in terms of my own happiness and ability to cope with tough stuff, but it has also paid off in terms of being able to parent better and cope with situations better.
The more I practice looking for the good in things and being thankful for them, the more I notice the good without having to try.
When my big boy comes home from school in a foul mood I am able to look past the prickly temperament and harsh words and see that this is just a tired boy reacting to a long day at school… and how thankful I am that he is settled at school and enjoying it, and I tell him that.
When one of my girls drops a big tub of yoghurt all over the floor, instead of only seeing the mess to be cleaned, and the time wasted when I was already busy and loosing my mind, I stop and notice how she takes responsibility for her mistake and begins to clean up without question or complaint… and how thankful I am to see my girls growing into young people who are responsible for their actions, but who don’t dwell on mistakes, and I tell her that.
Practicing being thankful has also paid of in terms of my children.
The more I have been grateful, the more I have said thank you, the more my children have done the same.
No, my children have not suddenly become empathetic saints who thank everyone for every little thing, but since I’ve been taking the time to tell them why I am thankful for things they do, they’ve learned how it feels to be thanked, they’ve learned that others really do appreciate their efforts, they’ve learned that small things, like saying thank you, can have a big impact
So when my girls thank me for figuring out how to put mods onto their minecraft install, or when my big boy throws his arms around me and says ‘thanks for my awesome birthday presents’ three months after his birthday, or when my small boy randomly kisses me and says ‘fanks mum’…. that’s when I realise that they are starting to understand this big huge concept of gratefulness in a way that asking them to say a ‘magic word’ could never teach them.
Do you practice being thankful?
I’d love to hear more about it if you do and how it has impacted your life.
Or maybe you think it is a new-wave fad and not worth the effort?
Leave a comment below, let’s chat!