Gratitude is one way to ensure that life is always experienced in the positive. It’s a choice that takes practice and as such, is a skill that can be taught.
I believe that learning the basics of good old fashioned “please” and “thank you” is the foundation for learning gratitude. When you have to say thank you for everything, you teach yourself to be grateful for everything.
So, we start early with our kids by teaching them “ta”. Our eldest, Tyson, took to saying “Ta” much more quickly and easily than the twins have. In fact, “ta” was one of his first words and he still, at four, is great with saying thank you.
It wasn’t an easy road though. We taught Tyson that each time he was given something, he should say, “Ta”. When he wanted some item, he needed to point and say, “Ta”.
He picked this up pretty well, but soon we noticed that maybe the lesson he was absorbing wasn’t what we were teaching. We thought we were teaching him manners. He thought he was learning the key to getting anything he wanted.
It started fairly innocently. He’d point to something he wanted and say, “Ta?” If he didn’t get what he wanted, he’d put on a cute face and, well, we all know it’s hard to say no to the cute face.
But, soon he started asking for things that he really couldn’t have, just because we had it: the iPhone, some raw meat, cleaning products, sharp knives…
So the exchange would follow:
Me: “No, Tyson”
Me: “I said no, Tyson, you can’t have it”
Tyson: “Ta? Ta? Ta? TA? TAA? TAA? TAAAA? TAAAA? TAAAAAAAAA??????”
It’s hard to describe. If you haven’t experienced it, then you need to see it to believe it.
Click on the video to see a visual example of what we affectionately called, “The Ta Tantrum”, by my husband, radio host and comedian Luke Holt.
And with that, we began our next parental lesson: “Learning to Say No In Tough Circumstances” also known as “Surviving Tantrums 101”.