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Where Are Your Manners?


Do you remember when your mother used to say, “Where are your manners?” Or “Do you live in a barn?”

Teaching our children certain manners such as “thank you” is important, but truly instilling a sense of gratitude goes beyond good manners — it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.

So what’s the big deal about having an attitude of gratitude anyway?

Gratitude and manners benefit adults and children alike on a very basic level. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, reveals that cultivating gratitude can increase happiness levels by 25 percent. It can also help individuals live more satisfied lives and enjoy increased levels of self-esteem. Other studies have shown that kids who practice grateful manners have more positive attitudes toward school and family.

When children have adults in their lives who consistently model appreciation and good manners, it will become natural for them to be grateful and kind to others. By treating others with respect and compassion, they are more likely to be treated that way in return. They will also learn at a young age to appreciate what they have rather than focusing on all the things they wish they had.

So how can we help our kids learn to live gratefully and use manners?

1. Count your blessings (literally!)
Have a moment of thanks each day when everyone shares something they’re thankful for.

2. Be a thankful parent.
It goes without saying that we love our kids, and that we’re thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs and so much more. Be sure to tell them that when you have their full attention.

3. Resist the urge to shower them with too much “stuff.”
The old adage “all things in moderation” is a useful guideline here.

4. Encourage written thank you notes.
Encourage kids to send notes when they receive gifts. Also encourage them to thank teachers, little league coaches, ballet teachers, kind pediatricians, helpful librarians and others.

5. Link gratitude to your higher power.
Spirituality and gratitude go hand in hand.

6. Encourage them to give back.
The old saying “it’s better to give than to receive” has stuck around for a reason.

7. Start early.
It’s never too early to help little ones develop good habits.   

8. Look for teachable moments.
When kids can connect the concept of gratitude to a real-life situation, the lesson we teach will be much more likely to stick.