Divine Simplicities: Expressing Thanks

When busy parents ignore or neglect small matters in the protocol habits of their children, the effects can be profoundly negative. The giving thanks is one of those small, even seemingly insignificant items; yet this easy practice CANNOT be overlooked without awful consequences–grabbing included. Thank you to Jennifer from Washington for her question thereby opening the following discussion about saying “Thank you”.

Question: I help teach teenagers at a home school co-op. At the end of each class as they are leaving the room I often give them a hand out with needed information for the class. (homework, timeline info etc.) Last week as I did this only 2 out of 12 kids said thank you to me. Many of them snatched it out of my hand. I have reflected on many excuses for them…..it is earlyin the morning, it is a heavy topic (World War II)…but I still feel it is terribly bad manners. Is it appropriate to say anything? Or is this a parental issue? thank you JB

Answer: Dear Jennifer–What a timely question with the arrival of the Thanksgiving season! How wonderful that you recognize the importance of this divine simplicity. Too many people overlook the character-shaping value of simply and properly saying, “Thank-you”. This is not an overstatement–the right protocol matters!

You have an appropriate position to address this situation with some helpful instruction. “Thank you” (and not grabbing) is immensely important to the culture of your co-op.

Good manners displayed via a spirit of gratitude create a general tone, which in turn foster an orderly atmosphere necessary for learning. Focus is difficult when rudeness rules. Your co-op should have a prescribed protocol of conduct in place and “thank-you” must top the list of expected behavior.

Tell your students that a responsive “Thank you” is in order anytime something is given or done for them.  Take opportunity also to give a list of polite class behavior. Follow it up with verbal instruction-and don’t hesitate to instantly remind students who forget their “thank-you’s”.

The teens who grab papers out of your hands need better training.  A simple discussion will help them know such behavior is rude.  You are correct in not making excuses for them. Grabbing or snatching anything from anyone’s hands is wrong. It speaks loudly about lack of respect, immaturity, and need for correct guidance in rules of civility. This “help yourself” attitude is a cousin  to ingratitude. Provide instructions on what you expect in orderly conduct. They need the positive input. Don’t forget to thank them in advance for their cooperation.

Secondly, you are also correct that this is also a parental issue. A good education includes a social education, and that starts in the home. Do the other co-op parents know what expected protocol is in place for student behavior? Some may not. Then too, many younger parents missed out on etiquette training. They wish to impart this life-skill to their children but don’t know where to begin. They will appreciate your help and leadership. Others have no idea protocol exists so they know nothing of its life-altering benefits. We must help each other in these issues. That is one reason why I wrote “Protocol Matters”.  Many teachers and parents find the section on classroom and home rules helpful.

We are commanded to instruct the next generation in Godly precepts so they know how to live, what is right, and what is wrong. Children look to adults for training and example. You are in a good position to help your students understand the underlying principle about the importance of expressing thanks. It is more than good manners. It’s foundational to the well being of their souls. They can see a glass half-empty or half-full.  If they neglect practice of giving thanks for small things it inclines them towards self-centeredness, which results in hard knocks in life. Ungrateful people are bitter people–their minds and hearts have been trained in self-serving ingratitude.

“Thank you” is a good antidote for ingratitude and its discontentments. Remember, people are generally prone to complaining and whining. Like a bad germ, it’s contagious.  We tend to grumble with displeasure when things don’t suit us. Good manners, based on Christian precepts, require a different response. The timely expression of grateful words is like a good medicine.

Your concern is justified. Blessings on your efforts.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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