These Two Words can change a Child’s Life
According to Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino in a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Grant & Gino, 2010) you have a 66% percent chance of receiving more when you say, “Thank you”.
In the study 69 participants were asked to provide feedback to a fictitious student called ‘Eric’ on his cover letter for a job application. After sending their feedback through by email, they got a reply from Eric asking for more help with another cover letter. The twist is that half of them got a thankful reply from Eric and the other half a neutral reply. While only 32% of participants receiving, the neutral email helped with the second letter, when Eric expressed his gratitude, this went up to 66%. The experimenters found that people weren’t providing more help because they felt better or it boosted their self-esteem, but because they appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.
Now for a reality shake up. We cannot teach children to say, “Thank you” without mirroring it in our own lives and we adults have a real problem saying thank you. Why? Here are a few reasons:
1. We fail to recognize effort in others and tend to be distracted and disengaged
2. We have a clear lack of communication and interpersonal skills so staying silent is our default. And ” That’s great” is not a “Thank you” in case you were wondering.
3. We feel saying thank you lowers our superiority. After all, how dare we say thank you to a competitor for sharing valuable insight, or the house-keeper for cleaning well or our child for doing his chores.
How does one create a habit of saying Thank you?
Why not try using a trigger word you use often such as “I’m Sorry” and replace it with a “Thank you”. This also flips the script and changes something that could be perceived as a negative mistake into a moment for you to express your gratitude and appreciation which is another great lesson to teach your children.
Here are some examples:
**Replace ‘ I’m sorry I am late” to ” Thank you for waiting on me!”**
When someone points out your error. Don’t respond with “Ugh, I’m so sorry about that!” Instead, say “Thank you for that helpful note!”
Say “Thank you for loving me as I am ” vs. ” I am sorry I am such a mess!’
Once thank you becomes part of your everyday vocabulary, here are some other really easy ways to reinforce it as a habit in your household:
1. Encourage your children every morning counting their 5 fingers on one hand to be thankful for something that day. Starting out the day in thanks can never be bad.
2. Create a little household competition and once a week put up the best drawing from all family members of the person or thing they are most thankful for. Also remember it must contain specifics such as “I am thankful for my brother who makes me laugh every time he farts!”
3. Create a “Thank you Failure, Mistakes and Imperfection Pizza Night” once a month. Here’s how you do it:
Order in a pizza uncut. When the pizza arrives, gather the entire family around and keep the pizza box closed. Every person should say out loud any mistake, imperfections or failures they experienced that month and why they were thankful for it and the lesson learned. Keep it short and simple. Nobody can comment on another family member reason for thanks. Then before opening the box have the family rate from 1-10 each other’s thank you based on the lesson learned from the Failure, Mistake or Imperfection.
Once the Imperfections have been rated, open the pizza box. The person with the highest Thank you rating gets to cut whatever slice of pizza he or she wants first. Now that is as Thanks a kid will never forget!