October is fast approaching, and that means my daughter is going to be turning four. There will be a birthday party, and since she is now old enough to say thank you on her own, I dread the thought of “making her say thanks”.
Luckily, I recently read a book full of great tips to teach children gratitude and other life lessons (like integrity, commitment, and forgiveness). Now I feel armed with advice to share using the suggested month long activities, and confident that I'm on the right track to raise lifelong learners who are full of good character.
The book, When You Say “Thank You”, Mean It was written by Mary O'Donohue after her son received a gift and she needed to remind him about saying thanks. With her husband, they created a “gratitude month” and it stuck with their son. Later, when both of her children were a little bit older, they developed a list of values that were important to their family and designed exercises to help instill these in their children.
Admittedly, when I first got the book I expected it to be laid out with values that aligned with times of the year, so I figured I wouldn't get to gratitude until November or December. The great thing I found is that the values aren't matched up with a certain month. If you want to put them in place, you just work in any order that works for your family.
For instance, it might make sense to start with forgiveness. Although When You Say “Thank You”, Mean It is geared toward children 5 and up, I thought I could incorporate some of the exercises from this chapter into talks with my (almost) four year old. Talking nightly about someone we should forgive seemed like an easy enough start. One night, it might have been the girl in her class last year who pushed. Another it was her ‘lil brother for biting. And one night, I learned that I too needed the lesson and talked about needing to forgive someone at work. O'Donohue suggests that after talking about it, you say, “I let it go.” How freeing!
There are 11 other values in this program that can be used with your family. While they may not be the ones your family values, you can pick and chose what works. O'Donohue definitely has something great here–helping parents raise children with values and that they can make a difference in the world. Truly a good find.
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You can find out more about Mary O'Donohue and her book When You Say Thank You, Mean It by visiting www.maryodonohue.com. You can also follow her on Twitter or “Like” When You Say “Thank You”, Mean It on Facebook. The book retails for $16.95.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book and was asked to write a review; however, all opinions and attempts to raise kids with character are 100% my own.