One of my favorite words is “tankoo.” At the end of every week day, Maddy grabs her mom’s hand on her way home, stops, looks me in the eye and sings a “tankoo.” This daily moment fuels my entire day.
Sharing gratefulness is truly a gift in itself.
When written letters and cards all too frequently seem archaic or at least foreign, they seem about as common as Yiddish. Have we stopped teaching our kids to say thank you? To write letters?
Teaching gratefulness is not a new concept. References to gratefulness abound in Pirke Avot (written around the year 200 CE). “Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own portion” – Pirke Avot 4:1.
I am not going to argue that “thank yous” have gone by the wayside. In fact, signs of gratefulness flourish on Facebook. Somehow, somewhere, someone started a Facebook trend that for 30 days straight people post one thing they’re thankful for. Sweet sentiments are everywhere. Likewise, Oprah followers are famous for their daily Gratitude Journals.
If anything, recognizing gratefulness and teaching thank yous are more important than ever. A field of research on gratitude in kids is emerging, and findings demonstrate benefits come to kids who literally count their blessings.
Giving thanks is not just holiday fare. Going around the Thanksgiving table and having each person say what they are grateful for is a great start, but why not do it all the days after Thanksgiving, too? Create a thankfulness routine daily or weekly, maybe every night before kids go to bed or at the dinner table one night a week. Simply ask them one thing they are thankful for that day or week, and have a little discussion about why they are grateful.
And don’t forget to share your own gratefulness. Like any lessons for our kids, modeling makes the strongest mark. By making gratefulness a part of your daily life, it becomes a part of your kids’ daily lives.
Pirke Avot, Facebook and Oprah certainly are not wrong. Gratitude works like a muscle. Take time to recognize good fortune, and feelings of appreciation increase.
In the famous words of Nike, “Just do it.” What are you grateful for? ✿
Audra Martin has worked with children in the JCC field for over 17 years. She is the Director of Children and Camp at the Merage JCC. Contact Audra at firstname.lastname@example.org.