As parents we often exhaust ourselves prodding our kids to use their manners:

“Remember to say please.”

“How do you ask nicely?”

“What’s the magic word?”

“What do you say now?”

We want them to be polite, appreciative, socially appropriate beings, and sometimes forcing them to use manners doesn’t feel like the most effective or authentic way to do it. Learning social pragmatics is an important step in a child’s development to be sure, but I believe that to truly embrace this behavior, children eventually need to learn from within.

Manners aren’t just about reciting specific words that parents and teachers guide you to say. Instead, being polite is about possessing a level of empathy, kindness, and gratitude. We choose to be polite to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers, because we care about treating them with compassion and respect. We enjoy bringing a smile to people’s faces or letting them know we appreciate them bringing a smile to ours.

So this Thanksgiving, my son and I are reading books about gratitude. Rather than demand he say thank you on command, I want to help him learn gratitude from within, to appreciate what brings him joy, to recognize the kindness of others, to express these emotions to those around him.

Here are some great books about gratitude, appreciation, and sharing. I’d love to hear other suggestions from all of you!

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

An Awesome Book of Thanks! by Dallas Clayton

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thanks for being a part of CLiF!


Image from Dallas Clayton’s An Awesome Book of Thanks!, here.

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