“Thank you” is a word that brings a positive feeling to both a speaker and a listener, and it is also a keyword to create a more optimistic life. In this article, let’s learn about the great power of “thank you” and the benefits when parents also express gratitude to their children.
How many times do you say “thank you” per day?
It is said that in many families, parents usually scold and put pressure on their children rather than paying attention and saying “thank you” or showing their appreciation to the kids. As a result, parents seem to only say thank you when their children do a favor for them or give them a gift.
Some people may feel shy when saying “Thank you” because they think that there is no need to say “thank you” in a family because “we are so close to each other” or “husbands and wives aren’t expected to say those unnecessary words”. However, no matter how grateful we are, it is completely meaningless if we don’t put it into words.
Sometimes, only a “thank you” can help to build a better relationship between husbands and wives. Professor Toshiyuki Shiomi, a distinguished professor at the University of Tokyo and an education scholar, wrote in his book that “Saying “Thank you” may be a big challenge for men who are not good at expressing gratitude and complimenting others. This obstacle is just like an invisible wall that not many people notice.”
According to Dr. Shiomi, if a husband often says “Thank you” for what his wife has done for him, the next time his wife is doing something, she will be willing to continue and put even more effort and love into it. Additionally, when an emotional cycle is generated, people will feel easier to express their emotions with each other which helps to bring family members closer to each other.
Definitely, the same thing will be applied to the parent-children relationship. Accordingly, when they receive gratitude from parents several times a day, the children gradually become more and more positive out of their expectations.
A “Thank You!” can improve children’s sense of self-assurance
How do thank-yous from parents affect their children? Let’s have a look at some specific examples as below.
“Thank you for coming into our lives”
Mr. Toshinori Iwai, a senior education consultant, shared that when hearing good words from parents related to their existence such as “You are our greatest blessing. Thank you for coming to this small home” or “Thank you for coming to our lives”, the child is strongly believed to be very confident in the future.
Many parents may think that their children must appreciate their parents for giving birth to them. However, frankly speaking, sometimes parents’ words seem to be inappropriate. In fact, parents’ words can make a great impact on the children, which can help them improve their sense of self-assurance as well as nurture their confidence.
“Thank you for (helping us, tidying up, etc.)”
When you say “Thank you” or “You have helped me a lot” when their children help you with household chores, they will feel more helpful and satisfied with what they have done for you. According to Professor Hideho Arita, a biologist at Toho University, the fact that people feel warm and happy when receiving a “thank you” results from the production of oxytocin inside our body, which is proven to make positive effects.
Professor Yukari Ido, a lecturer of the University of Tokyo from a clinical psychological expert’s viewpoint, also states that receiving appreciation from parents helps children to express themselves confidently. That is a powerful tool for children to develop their relationships.
Changing “Great!” compliments to “Thank you!”
Erika Takeuchi, the Chairman of the Japan Children’s Association, shared that: “Children who always receive the word “great” tend to become more interested in the evaluation and try their best to receive that compliment, which is only a word, not a deeper feeling.”
When praising their children, many parents seem to only say “great”. However, they should notice that “thank you” is more appropriate, since that will help children to be more compassionate and to feel more comfortable when helping someone voluntarily.
“Thank you for helping. Thank you very much.”
Daiji Akehashi, a psychiatrist and author of a book set named “Happy tips to raise your children”, says that “Thank you” is the easiest and most effective word to cultivate a sense of self-assurance in children.
“Thank you” is not just literally “thanks”, but also a word used to acknowledge one’s existence values and improve their self-assurance. The child will be aware of their ability to help others and their self-recognition to be helpful, creating positive energy to build their life after that.
“Thank you for helping me when I am busy”
Mr. Iwai also said: “If you want a child to be kind and caring, you should pay attention to his/her “empathy-based behavior” and thank him/her.”
For example, when seeing parents or siblings having trouble, children directly come and help us without being asked. Therefore, as parents, you should better recognize them and express your appreciation by saying such things as “Thank you for helping me!” and “Oh, your brother was struggling with something, I didn’t even notice that. Thank you for helping me and him.”
Gratitude creates a positive state
Being grateful to someone and letting them know that seems to be easy, but in reality, it is incredibly difficult. Saying thank-you is an ability, so if you don’t have enough ability, you won’t be able to say “thank you”. However, “thank you” and “gratitude” have a very deep influence on anyone’s lifelong happiness.
Robert Emmons, a positivity psychologist at the University of California-Davis, said that: “With gratitude, we can protect ourselves from harmful emotions such as jealousy, resentment, regret or depression. In other words, it is essential to maintain your gratitude to live a more optimistic life”.
In an experiment conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Martin Seligman applied gratitude into a lesson for depressed patients. As a result, they realized that “The power of strong gratitude increases happiness and decreases depression.”
In another study conducted by two psychologists – Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, a gratitude journal was made for insomnia people to improve their health and quality of sleep. In addition, a study conducted by Northeastern University also showed that gratitude improves self-control.
Based on these research results, it is clear to say that gratitude cultivates people’s happiness and has a positive effect on improving their life quality.
Gratitude leads to happiness, not only in adult cases. In 2013, a survey of primary school students conducted by Professor Mitsuru Aikawa, Professor of Humanity Science at the University of Tsukuba, concluded that the children’s gratitude is the key to building a nice friendship.
If you always feel grateful, you will obviously feel happy.
Gratitude is a great power to remove negative feelings as well as bringing colors and happiness to our lives. What gratitude can do to you may be beyond your expectation because happier people are more likely to achieve better results in all aspects of life.
Professor Takashi Maeno, a lecturer at Keio University and a top expert on the “science of happiness” has scientifically demonstrated the human happiness mechanism, particularly stated as follows.
For example, happier people have much higher self-assurance, productivity, clear goals, selflessness, optimism, and sociability, therefore, they can accumulate a larger amount of useful knowledge. Even people who are already happy at a certain level can also practice different psychological measures to be happier.
(Source: Takashi Maeno (2017), “Practical Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness”, PHP Institute.)
According to Dr. Maeno, positive psychology is “a solution that helps people in a normal state of mind to be better and happier.” While traditional psychology deeply focuses on dealing with negative psychological states such as illness and anxiety, positive psychology targets to “turn a normal life into a livelier and better one”.
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