gratitudegrat·i·tude:  /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/

Definition:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Giving gratitude can be one of the most precious gifts one person can give to another. As adults, we understand the value of saying “Thank You” and the importance to do so. It is the golden rule of etiquette and kindness, but what about our children? Do our wee ones understand that saying thank you is more than just two words strung together?

 My mother always impressed upon me that giving gratitude was not only respectful, but a sacred activity. And that this sacred interaction should be done with meaning regardless of the reason or scope of for what you are saying thank you. For example, if someone holds the door open for you, then the following should occur:

  1. Stop to acknowledge the gesture
  2. Make eye contact with the person holding the door
  3. Say “Thank You!”
  4. Smile and do so genuinely

This act of acknowledgment, though it be small, is like a silent conversation that is taking place between two people. How do we impress upon our little people the importance of this short yet meaningful experience? Simple: By modeling it in front of our children or those you are looking after. By having them model it for you in return when the opportunity arises.

I also believe that gratitude and saying thank you can also be an activity that stems from just wanting to acknowledge or share one’s thankfulness. In our house, we have a Giving Plate. The Giving Plate is a painted plate that explains our gratefulness in general terms, but also asks the receiver of the plate to pass on the appreciation by sending the Giving Plate forward to another person. My little lovelies choose a recipe, create their treat, and then go out into the neighborhood and choose a home to deliver it to for no other reason than wanting to share their gratitude.

So many times the recipient is so overwhelmed by the random act of kindness and appreciation that the Gratitude Conversation begins on its own and with ease. My lovelies come alive and their smiles are majestic! All shyness melts away and the engagement between two humans comes to life in some of the most remarkable and heartwarming ways. And this is all made possible by sharing gratitude and saying thank you for just being another human presence in the world.

To raise a gratitude-conscious child is one of the biggest gifts to pass on. It is a rewarding and full experience that each and every one of us can do, but can also benefit from. So when you are spending some quality time with your sweet loves take a moment, choose an opportunity, and come up with ways that they too can share in the art of saying thank you.  

With love and a great big thank you,

The Gratitude Project


Hilary Bryan is the owner of Roark & Company, a full-service fundraising and development consulting boutique that can provide nonprofit organizations with the tools and resources necessary to fund and grow their critical programs that service their communities. She is mama to Juniper.