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Instilling Thankfulness in Children

We could all use a reminder to show gratitude to the person handing you a gift.

It's a struggle for every parent to instill in their children thankfulness and gratitude. Every year before family arrives for a birthday party or Christmas dinner I have to have the pep talk with my children that goes something like this,

"Even if the gift you open isn't something you really wanted you must smile, look the person in the eye and say thank you."

I have this talk because my oldest son, L, is on the Autism Spectrum and one of his unique qualities is that he doesn't have filters. He doesn't have the ability to lie, he can't comprehend the little white lies that we all say in order to make other people feel good—"It's exactly what I wanted" or "I love it, thank you!"—instead he's brutally honest.

I was chatting with his teacher afterschool one day (she knows that I am a yoga instructor) and she mentioned that she started going to the gym and was going to try the yoga classes offered there. L overhears our conversation and inquires, "are you going to the gym because you are fat?"

I am instantly horrified. This was one of those moments when I wished the sidewalk would crack open and swallow me whole. Thankfully, she is very familiar with children on the Autism Spectrum and their honestly and didn't take his remark as a personal attack on her weight. Before I could apologize for his remark she simply smiled and said, "Yes, L. I'm overweight and I need to go to the gym to lose a few pounds."

Of course the second we are in the car I have a conversation with my son about how it's not appropriate to talk or ask questions about people's weight.

At some point I won't need to give the boys the pep talk before family arrives and present opening begins, they will know what to do and say. 

But in the meantime let's all remember to take the time to look the person in the eye, smile and honor their gift. It's an expression of their love, let's treat it as such.

Gretchen Schock is a mom, a writer and a yoga instructor. Check out her creative writings and crafty goodness on her blog, www.CocktailMom.com. Or come to a yoga class and be inspired! 

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