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Does your language teach gratitude?
Parenting Power Admin December 18, 2014 No Comments

Does your language teach gratitude?

This month, we’ve been talking about gratitude – living it and teaching it to our children. We’ve talked about gratitude for stuff and situations. Today, we go a bit deeper – we are focusing on gratitude for who we are and the people who surround us.

It is really easy for parents to lose a sense of the joy of parenting because of the reactions and behaviour of their kids. For example, not putting laundry in the hamper, forgetting to empty out a hockey bag or leaving dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher. We know that this happens in our own households and it may well happen to you.

You head downstairs to do the laundry and realize that none of your child’s clothing is in the hamper. Fueled by a feeling of disrespect and frustration, you head back upstairs and the first words out of your mouth are,

“YOU didn’t put your clothes in the laundry!”


“Oh? So your clothes have just turned invisible then, is that it?!”

And the disrespectful interaction continues. We’ve just marched upstairs and invited our teen to argue with us.We are mad at ourselves for our reaction and mad at our kids for their reaction which we taught them; kids do live what they learn.

So let’s pause this story for a minute and take a look at the situation:

We both know (and you likely do to,) that problems are never solved in the heat of the moment. Ideally, we would strike when the iron is cold and make a plan using problem-solving, clear expectations and consequences to hold our kids accountable to change the behaviour.

When we forget to do that and react in the heat of the moment, we are not helping anyone. So how do we change that behaviour? By asking ourselves some tough questions including:

Does your language teach gratitude?

And now, back to our story…

How do we make things better? Well, in the heat of the moment, when we hang onto the respectful response, we are showing gratitude for ourselves by taking the high-road, we feel better about ourselves and we model or teach our kids a response of gratitude as well.

We can model for our kids what they might have said or could say next time:

Us: I notice that your laundry is missing from the hamper.
Them: I thought I put it in.
Us: I think you meant to say, “Sorry mom, I’ll go get it right now. Thanks for doing my laundry.”

This kind of response leaves everyone involved feeling much better than the version above.

When we are living self-respect we are practicing gratitude for ourselves, and self-care. The bonus is that when we live self-respect, we model it for our kids.

What’s the secret? The next time we are about to launch into the blame game, we are going to ask ourselves,

“How can we be helpful in the moment?”

“What language will teach gratitude?”

We’ll begin by stating the problem starting with “I notice that…”
Then, we’ll be prepared to model the language that our kids could use and teach gratitude:

“Thanks for dinner, Mom.”
“Thanks for the ride, Dad.”
“Thank you for the gifts – I love them!”

And when we we make a mistake – which we will, we know that there will always be another opportunity to do it better the next time.

Expect respect for self and model it. It really shows gratitude for self and family.

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