Monday, January 25, 2016

Two Powerful Words

    Two of the most powerful words in the world are “Thank you.” 

     They change how others see and how you see the world.  With those two words we look outward from ourselves to acknowledge the help, gift or kindness of others.  It’s a significant perspective for small and large children to learn, and, of course, middle-aged people, old people, young parents, and probably the dog.

     Gratitude is a perspective, and a choice.  It isn’t tied to how much or how little you have been given or earned, or how much more you want or need. Gratitude is about not being stingy-hearted.  It is about acknowledging the value of other people, and childhood is a wonderful time to learn to be appreciative.

     Each of us has our own worries and challenges, and small children are no different.  Our adult concerns can be complicated and intense, but it’s really not easy being a kid, either.  Big and little we can all get caught up in our own needs, and the best way to turn that around is to look up and say thank you to someone else.

     We can all be like those impossible two year-olds who insist “I can do it myself.”  Independence is healthy and important and makes us feel strong; yet it is important to also learn that accepting help and acknowledging the good done for us by others makes us no less independent and no less strong.

     A child who learns to be generous with gratitude and acknowledgment of others will be a happier and more powerful person.  Good leaders show appreciation for the help of others and recognize the talents of others without feeling insecure themselves.  Good citizens recognize the power of collaboration and how important a sincere “thank you” is in building good relationships.  Good students learn that they need the help of teachers and peers to get where they want to go in life, and a sense of appreciation helps with learning and friendship. 

     There are lots of ways to express gratitude.  Of course saying the two words right out loud is right at the top.  The child who learns to say thank you to the neighbor who gives him a cookie or the friend who offers a ride will find himself with more cookies and more rides.  Grandmas, store clerks, mail carriers, librarians and teachers all love to hear those two words.

     A child who learns to say thank you for a meal or treat at home, or at someone else’s home practices both gratitude and good manners. 

     Children can say thank you with a notes, cards, letters, or treat.  A thank you note for a gift given is a wonderful practice.  From a child a card with just those powerful two words and a name will make a gift-giver smile.  A cookie and a drawing for the refrigerator door that says “thank you for being so nice” could make the neighbors life-long friends, even if your cat does dig in the neighbor’s flowers.

     Giving to causes in the community is a wonderful way to express an overall sense of gratitude.  Give some quarters to your children to drop in the Salvation Army red kettle outside the grocery stores and explain it is a way of sharing because you are grateful that you always have food to eat, and those quarters will help feed someone who needs food.

      Watching adults who volunteer to help out at the school project, give blood, donate to the food bank, or shovel a driveway for a neighbor teaches a child about being aware of others, and indirectly a sense of gratitude that they have enough to share.  Even small gestures of gratitude and kindness can cheer and bless others, but even more importantly, they change us and who we become whether we are young and old.  And it all starts with those two words, thank you. 

© Diane L. Mangum 2014