Manners of the Heart® (MOH), a community-based organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is dedicated to transforming homes, schools and communities through instructional programs designed to build character, strengthen morals, and increase respectfulness among children and adults. This character education program, referred to as “Heart Education,” offers resources for children, parents, teachers and business professionals. MOH provides classroom application-level learning through our own evidence-based curriculum for students and professional instruction through seminars, workshops and conferences for adults.

Wise Ol’ Wilbur’s Blog

Thanksgiving Comes Before Christmas

We’ve been doing the hard work this month of looking in our own hearts to see what is there—gratitude or greed. When we get our hearts in the right place, instilling gratitude in the hearts of our children isn’t so difficult. It just takes the resolve to carry through on our desire to raise children with grateful hearts.

When my sons were young, every time we drove through the bank the teller offered them a lollipop. Rather than allowing the treat just because it was offered, more times than not, I said “Thank you, but not today.” After a while, the boys would join in unison, “No thank you, not today.” The boys had learned that the lollipop was a treat, not a “right.”

On the occasions that I said, “Thank you so much that would be a real treat” to the teller’s offer, the boys would squeal with joy as they enjoyed every lick of their lollipops.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to instill gratitude in the hearts of your children:

• Don’t allow your children to have something every time it’s offered. This creates a sense of entitlement and expectation that actually robs your children of joy!
• Encourage the simple pleasures:
      o Make homemade gifts for each other.
      o Play games rather than rent a movie.
      o Spend the night in the backyard as an adventure at home.
• As your children grow older, expect them to purchase their “wants” with extra money that they earn for doing chores. This not only instills gratitude, but also builds self-respect.
• Teach your children to write thank you notes. Beginning at the age of three, your children can “draw” thank you notes. As soon as they are able, they need to write their own. A simple thank you note from a child warms the heart of the recipient and teaches your child the importance of saying thank you.
• Try to not let a day pass by without asking your children (from toddlers to teens) to name at least two things they appreciated during the day.
• Wherever you go, point out the good you see people doing. Express your thanks to those who are serving you and teach your children to do the same. In restaurants, the teller at the bank, the checker at the grocery…everywhere you go offer your gratitude for the little things people do.

How do you instill gratitude in the hearts of your children? Would you share ideas for the rest of us to follow?

From our hearts to yours,

 

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