The 1,2,3’s of Gratitude: What Children Can Teach Us about Being Thankful
One of the joys of working with young children is that change happens constantly. Learning is a part of the everyday and conversations with families are both interesting and enlightening. At this very busy time of year adults become rushed and can feel pressure to be everything—to everyone. Often there are times it seems jobs are thankless, our efforts go unnoticed and that our children, in particular, are not thankful.
Being ‘thankful’ is a basic hallmark of emotional development that is actually a culmination of many other developmental milestones. Our children are growing each day. They laugh, play and learn. But let’s face it; young children are not often thankful that you feed them, keep them warm, drive them around or that you give them toys to play and learn with . . . or are they?
Without ever saying those two words, here are 7 small ways children throughout all stages of development show their gratitude.
- Your tiny baby stares right into your eyes and holds tight to your finger while you are giving her a bottle and snuggling with her on the rocking chair. She knows you need her as much as she needs you.
- Your new walker smiles and reaches for you as he takes his first steps. Your arms are his destination. He knows you will always be ready to catch him.
- Your young toddler chooses a book and carries it to the place you are sitting on the rug. Without hesitation (or looking), she backs right up into you and sits confidently on your lap knowing you are a safe landing spot. She knows you will always be there.
- Your older toddler calls your name over and over – for no reason but just because now he can. And with this great thing called speech, you will give him a high-five or more peaches or bring him a block, or say his name back or just look at him and smile. He knows it is your name that will bring what he needs.
- Your three year old holds your hand as she excitedly walks to the playground with you. Once there, she climbs up the climber and checks to see that you are watching her. She swishes down the slide and checks to make sure you are laughing too. She throws a ball and checks to see that you are clapping. She knows you keep her safe. Your eyes are always on her.
- Your preschooler shows off his painting and that he can kick a soccer ball into the net. He finds “his” magnet letters on the fridge. He insists on wearing a sweatshirt because you have your sweatshirt on. You hear yourself in his words and see yourself in his play. He works hard to be just like you.
- School-agers look for you on the bleachers at their game. They relish your praise at a completed homework project. They bring all of their friends over because their house is the “best” house on the street. They sign you up to sell a million candy bars. They know you love them for who they are.
So I guess ‘thankful’ looks many different ways and our children teach us about each one of them.
Now that is something to be thankful for.
Vice President of Education & Staff Development