This week our two-year old speech-delayed twin boy learned a new phrase: thank-you. We’ve known for quite some time that he has been observing and absorbing much more than we thought, but what we didn’t anticipate was that he would not only share his newfound skill with us, but also repeatedly at speech therapy this week.
And while it seems fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of vocabulary, it actually has meant more to me than I thought.
Let me explain. When we first even began thinking of having kids, it didn’t really occur to us that:
a) we’d have trouble conceiving
b) that our children would have any delays and
c) that those delays would include speech and communication difficulties.
So, now that we’ve experienced all three of those scenarios and then some, it’s made every milestone that much more momentous and celebratory.
Thank-you, signed by a two-year old in context is a beautiful thing. It makes me recognize that from the beginning we’ve been trying to teach our children gratitude even for the daily little things.
How interesting that when we reach adulthood we tend to overlook or not recognize the little things for which we should be saying “thank-you”.
At age 4, our oldest son still needs reminders to remember to say thank-you—it just makes me wonder, why do we ever stop reminding our kids or people in our lives to be thankful?
It shouldn’t just be a once-a-year occurrence on Thanksgiving that we say thanks or remember to say it-it should be a daily thing. So, that’s the challenge. How do we incorporate thankfulness and gratitude into our own life; into our family life.
We’ve been brainstorming and have come up with a list of 5 things to up the level of gratitude this year. We’d love it if you join our family in the challenge:
Start a gratitude jar—ask your kids every night at dinner time what they are grateful for today. Write down the answer(s) on a slip of paper and put it in the jar with a date on it. Then, on tough days or even once a month pull out random things from the jar to read aloud and remember.
Purchase a story that focuses on gratitude or thankfulness and read it aloud with your family once a week for a month (or throughout the year) and spend a “thankfulness hour” talking about what it means to be grateful and thankful.
Put together a gratitude box. Decorate it together, have everyone contribute ideas and pictures or cut out magazine images of things that they’re grateful for to fill the box. Have it displayed in a prominent spot and make a point of discussing gratitude throughout the month or year.
Put together a list of ways your family can give back to the community as a way of being grateful. You could visit a soup kitchen, put together a hamper, put together shoeboxes, help neighbours, or whatever you think of as a way to be grateful for what you have and help those not as fortunate.
Declutter and donate. Go through your home and donate items that are no longer being used but are still useful. Have your kids participate in the donation process and challenge your family to a 30-day buying freeze to practice exercising gratitude.
These are just ideas to get you on your path towards gratitude. As with our two-year old, all it takes is a little thanks that will go a long way.