The Webster Dictionary defines the word thank, as to “express gratitude,” combining it with “you” personalizes it to the situation and most importantly to the person involved. As individuals and as parents, we can sometimes be quick to point out the failings of others and not so quick to let them know how proud we are of their accomplishments and grateful for their contributions to our lives.
“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” – William James
The November 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Publication entitled “In Praise of Gratitude,” reported that people who participated in one study by journaling their gratitude for events that week, reported feeling more optimistic and happier about their lives. Another study had participants write and send a thank you note to someone they had never properly thanked, resulting in an increase in their happiness scores. Gratitude also benefits emotional and work relationships as well. Couples who take time to express gratitude to their partner felt more positive toward the other and was more comfortable expressing concerns around their relationship. Employees became motivated to work harder when their managers remembered to say “thank you” for heir efforts.
What does this all mean when applied to the parent/child relationship? As the quote by William James points out, being appreciated by others is a need each individual has and especially a child learning about the world. A parent is the emotional mirror of a child’s sense of self. When the reflection of acknowledgement is made up of “no’s,” “don’ts,” “can’ts,” and other negative messages, a child will not only internalized this as a negative sensse of self but will then reflect back negative behavior, words and ideas to the parent and environment.
What is the magic that the word “thank you” creates? The Harvard study mentioned above, noted that individuals felt better about themselves, their relationship and were inclined to work harder at their job when they expressed or received gratitude in the form of “thank you’s” by others. Physiological changes have also been observed when a person experiences gratitude. The body relaxes, deeper breathing brings in more oxygen and blood vessels relax allowing blood to easily flow through the heart and body.
“The very same neurochemicals are emitted by the brain when we are in a state of gratitude as those produced when we are feeling and thinking happiness, love, being excited and positive.” Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of “Evolve Your Brain.”
As individuals and as parents, what do we have to loose? Let the “attitude of gratitude” become a part of your daily interactions with your child and others. Let the gratitude in your “thanks yous” create a positive emotional, psychological and physiological environment for your child and for you because all of you will benefit. Your child will develop a strong, positive sense of self and they will reflect back an “attitude of gratitude” to you and everyone within their environment.