Yesterday, I spent 2 hours passing out samples of healthy foods at my children’s school during lunch. Well, it’s my school too. I literally know every child in the entire school from teaching them in “guidance” classes and being there for the past 5 years. It is a wonderful school with a unique mix of diverse cultures, families, and socioeconomic groups. It’s small, intimate, and safe. It’s friendly and warm, and I choose for my children to go there despite being zoned for another good public school. I love it for them because they are walking to same halls that I too walked at their age!
You could say I’m biased and loyal. It’s a great group of kids with very supportive families, which is why I find it a little sad that yesterday, I remember the kids who said thank you when I quickly rushed around handing out their free, healthy samples. Why? The majority of sweet students did not use those two, polite words. I hurried around to literally every class in the school during lunchtime and more tables than not did not say thank you. In fact, I remember some of the hyper kids that I see in my small-group counseling actually using those two simple words when I handed them their veggie straw. I was proud and acknowledged their thoughtfulness. We have been practicing ‘good manners’ in our “friendship club” and I loved hearing them use them!
The younger kids were much more polite, more likely to say ‘thank you‘, and more grateful than the older students. It’s not that most students we’re intentionally acting rude, but more kids than not didn’t take the time to say those two simple words.
In fact, I had a very kind mother eating with her very polite son remind all the boys at their table to say “thank you”. I appreciate that, and ‘teachers’ notice that. We notice those kids that use the words please and thank you. Why? Sadly, it’s because many students do not.
Saying thank you shows you have gratitude. Saying thank you means you are humble. Saying thank you means you acknowledge the effort of others. I think saying thank you shows you have empathy because you think beyond yourself. And, empathy and values can and should be taught. Recently, there has been more and more research and articles in the media showing the importance and value of teaching children empathy and character.
Now, having kids of my own, I realize they are selfish creatures! This is nothing new and nothing that will ever change because they are wired that way as they move through stages of natural development. However, what’s changing is parents taking the time to teach their children gratitude, good manners, and empathy. I have to remind my children to say ‘thank you‘ and ‘please’ often. I will keep reminding them too until it becomes a routine part of their vocabulary.
You don’t have to be rich or poor to say it, or to feel it. When I routinely bring in special snacks or treats for the conclusion of friendship groups which last 6 weeks, I am often surprised of the groups who show gratitude and all say ‘thank you‘. As a parent, I need to teach my children to show other adults and kids how to be grateful.
“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.”
We will keep on practicing and reminding at home and everywhere else because it’s the nice thing to do.