You might think this is a strange topic to write about at Thanksgiving but giving thanks and being grateful helps us to acquire our 7th Emotional Intelligence attribute: how to persist in the face of frustration. For a few weeks a year we talk about giving thanks and being grateful but this is truly the key for overcoming challenges big or small all year long. We always have a choice whether to be a victim or to rise above our challenges looking at the bright side and how these challenges may serve us and help us become stronger and better people. Gratefulness always moves us from victim to feeling empowered.
How do we teach children to be grateful? Here is a personal favorite story of mine.
When my daughter was a teenage with an attitude, she wanted these really expensive jeans. Being a single mom, they weren’t on my most needed list. I explained why she couldn’t have them but she persisted and I once again became the meanest mom in the world. I often wore this title proudly. I took this to another level though. I didn’t understand why she was not grateful for all she did have. So, I asked a psychologist friend of mine. Never ask a question that you may not like the answer to. This wise person looked at me and shrugged. “She learns it from you.” I answered, “No way, I practice gratefulness all the time.” He said, “Do you complain about not having enough money, not being able to do the things you want to do and buy?” Oops, yup, that was me alright. She was just translating it into her teenage world. What to do???
I had this idea. Didn’t know if it would work or not but thought I would give it a whirl. I insisted in family Friday night dinners with chicken soup and chicken. I started what I call, “gratefuls”. We would go around the table even with guests present and share what we were grateful for that week. I was astounded but the turn around was fantastic for her and me. It was so simple and so powerful. She is now 40 and we still do it at holiday times. My friends boys….now all grow up…still remember coming to my house for dinner and practicing their “gratefuls” on the way over.
Make this Thanksgiving be the first of many weeks when you share your gratefulness with each other. This is important even at 2 to 3 years old. Try this and feel the loving energy. Now this is something for which to be grateful!