Teaching Kids Gratitude & The Power of a ‘Thank You’

When Cody and Nick were younger and we celebrated their birthdays with big parties and cake and by inviting friends and family to celebrate I always made it a priority to purchase thank-you cards for them to fill out. I say fill out because when they were little it was much easier for them to fill in a “blank” with one or two words rather than come up with a personal sentiment, especially when they were only four or five years old. I would explain to them that regardless of what each person gave them for a present, or even if they simply showed up for the party without a “real” gift to open, they still set aside time in their life to celebrate with us and should be appreciated. Over the years parties have turned into special family dinners, and even a trip to Walt Disney World , with birthday cards arriving in the mailbox.

Teaching Kids Gratitude

My boys are both teenagers now and I blame myself for not continuing to encourage them to write thank-you cards or show their gratitude in some other way, like with a simple phone call. I plan to change that this year. Last night while going about my evening and finishing up kitchen clean-up following dinner, my phone rang. It was my 10-year old niece calling to thank me for the card and gift “credit card” (kids loves that plastic little rectangle) I sent her for her birthday. Hearing her sweet little voice brought a smile to my face and her calling to say thank-you made my heart swell. I certainly didn’t need the call, but my sister-in-law is a really great mom and she’s teaching her kids wonderful life lessons about gratitude and appreciation. After I chatted with my niece for a moment about her big plans with her “credit card” she told me my nephew wanted to talk to me as well. You see, their birthdays are less than a month apart and I was late getting his card sent so it ended up arriving with his sister’s. Luckily kids are understanding and forgiving when you send them cards with plastic inside of them. He thanked me for his greeting card and “credit card”(I love how they call it a credit card) and then proceeded to explain to me how they work when you go to the store and buy something. Did you know if you don’t spend all of the money on the card the rest of the balance stays on the credit card until the next time you go shopping at that store? I’m not even kidding when I say his explanation of how gift cards work was the best part of my week so far. He then told me what he planned to buy for himself and quickly handed the phone to his mom so he could go back to playing. I realize it seemed like a simple phone call for all of them, but for me it was a reminder that we need to keep teaching our kids about appreciation and gratitude no matter how old they get because a simple call or hand written thank-you means the world to the person on the other end of the phone or mailbox.

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