What does GRATITUDE look like in a child?
When a child writes a thank you letter spontaneously, from her heart, to a teacher who repairs her musical instruments for her, spontaneously, from his heart…….gratitude arises.
We cannot teach this to a child; to feel sorry, to feel gratitude, to feel anger, to feel longing. These are natural & arise from their emotions moment to moment, as development takes place, and when conditions are present for our children to feel all their feelings.
Yes it is true we can model gratitude. Yes it is true we can direct our children to show gratitude. (“Here’s a piece of paper, now please write a thank you note to your teacher.”) But we all know the difference.
When a child says “sorry” to you & really means it, that is quite different to saying “sorry’ because they were told to.
When a child says “Thank you” & really means it, that is quite different to saying “Thank you” because they were following the rules of etiquette.
The question becomes: What do we want to cultivate in our children: following the ‘rules’ or following their heart?
By Laura Newman MSc