The one came from our six-year-old grandson. His mother had diligently worked with him helping him write the content of the text and encouraged him on as he completed his task. I am sure he wasn’t very enthusiastic in having to write his grandparents especially as it is their midterm break.
However, her strategy was simple. She said to him that if you can’t show gratitude for the gift you got then you can’t have it. Well, that definitely inspired the thank you card writing. There was also another outcome she was looking for and that was the continuation of the skill of printing. One task – two outcomes!
The other card came from a twelve-year-old. This one had been written on her own initiative. It was well written and expressed a sincere heart of gratitude and thanks. Her mother was thrilled that it was not motivated by her but by the child. Why? Because that meant that all those years of training were having an effect.
This is internalization and this is what you are working towards with your children. Internalization is the process of making attitudes and behaviours as part of one’s nature by learning or unconscious assimilation. As the parent you need to remain consistent in what you see as important if you want it to become part of who they are and what they do.
Take brushing their teeth for example. When they are little you brush their teeth with them. As they get older you say, ‘Now, brush your teeth.’ Still later when they are saying good night you ask, ‘Did you brush your teeth?’ Until, finally, they can’t stand the thought of not brushing their teeth.
Voila! The process is complete and it has become part of them. It is internalized! The process takes time and consistency but it will give you rewards. Some day you too may get a card expressing gratitude!