“I appreciate you!” Those simple words make us feel more committed and understanding of each other. A recent study found that the key ingredient to improving the quality of marriages is gratitude. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that expressions of gratitude were the most consistent predictor of marital satisfaction. Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you seem to indicate just how committed you are to your marriage.
So imagine how children feel when parents and teachers appreciate them! While it might seem funny to say “thank you” to a baby, it’s an easy way to deepen your commitment and ability to understand the baby while increasing the baby’s sense of connection and love. Thanking your toddler when he helps clean up or gives you a hug reinforces a positive and mutually engaging relationship.
Studies show that people who express gratitude regularly are better at understanding the perspective of others and experience higher levels of optimism and reduced stress. Who couldn’t use a little more optimism and a little less stress?
Easy ways to be grateful in early childhood organizations:
• Write a thank-you note from the babies in your classroom to their parents. Thank the parents for getting up in the middle of the night, putting the babies’ needs first, and playing with their children.
• Start staff meetings with expressions of gratitude.
• Collect gratitude statements on the staff bulletin board.
Easy ways to express thanks at home:
• Encourage your children to start each meal by thanking the cook.
• Make a drawing for someone who has done something nice for your family.
• Always follow “Thank you” with specifics like “for playing blocks with me” or “for making me laugh.”
Easy ways to express gratitude on your own:
• At the end of the day, make a mental list of all the good things that happened.
• Say “thank you” for as many things as possible.
• Each week, write a thank-you note to someone who is special to you.
• Meditate on a pleasant sensation, for example the warmth of the sun or the sound of birds.
And, I want to thank you for everything that you do to help children and families succeed in relationships, emotional development, learning and expressing empathy and understanding of others! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.