148: Why isn’t my child grateful with Dr. Jonathan Tudge (RE-RELEASE)

“I spent the whole morning painting and doing origami and felting projects with my daughter – and not only did she not say “thank you,” but she refused to help clean up!” (I actually said this myself this morning:-))

“We took our son to Disneyland and went on every ride he wanted to go on except one, which was closed, and he spent the rest of the trip whining about how the whole trip was ruined because he didn’t get to go on that one ride.” (I hope I never have to say this one…I’m not sure I could make it through Disneyland in one piece.)

 

You might recall that we did an episode a while back on manners, and what the research says about teaching manners, and how what the research says about teaching manners comes from the assumption that manners MUST be explicitly taught – that your child will NOT learn to say “thank you” unless you tell your child “say thank you” every time someone gives them a gift.

We also talked about how parent educator Robin Einzig uses the concept of “modeling graciousness” and that if you treat other people graciously, when your child is ready, she will be gracious as well.  The problem here, of course, is that most people expect your child to display some kind of manners before they are developmentally ready to really understand the concept behind it.

But what really underlies manners?  Well, ideas like gratitude.  Because when we train children to say “thank you” before they are ready to do it themselves they might learn to recite the words at the appropriate time, but they aren’t really experiencing gratitude.

Dr. Jonathan Tudge of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro tells us much more about this, and how we can scaffold our child’s ability to experience gratitude, if we decide we might want to do that.

Dr. Tudge’s book, Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents (co-edited with Dr. Lia B. L. Freitas) contains lots more academic research on this topic if you’re interested.

Transcript
Jen:

Hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. You might recall that we did an episode a while back on manners and what the research says about teaching manners and how what the research says about teaching manners comes from the assumption that manners must be explicitly taught, that your child will not learn to say thank you unless you tell your child, say thank you every time someone gives them a gift. We also talked about how parent educator Robin Einzig uses the concept of “modeling graciousness” and that if you treat other people graciously when your child is ready, she will be gracious as well. The problem here, of course, is that most people expect your child to display some kind of manners before they’re developmentally ready to really understand the concept behind it. Recently I saw an article from the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center about the development of gratitude and I saw it quoted Professor Jonathan Tudge, who is actually edited a very recent book of research called developing gratitude in children and adolescents, and I knew we’d found the right person to speak with about this.

Jen:

Professor Tudge, who goes by “Jon,” works in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, although you will hear from his accent in a minute that he’s perhaps not native to that part of the world. Most of his research focuses on the interrelations between the social world and children’s social, moral and cognitive development. He draws heavily on the ideas of Lev Vygotsky and Urie Bronfenbrenner, both of whom are practically old friends of our regular listeners by now, which means he’s interested in how social relationships shape development and in observing children “in the wild” as it were, rather than in lab situations. Welcome Jon.

Dr. Tudge:

Welcome Jen. Thanks.

Jen:

Thank you. So let’s start with the easy questions. What is gratitude? How do you define it?

Dr. Tudge:

Yeah. It’s not terribly easy.

Jen:

No, it’s not.

Dr. Tudge:

No. Um, I think there are three aspects to a definition of gratitude. First of all, there has to be a benefactor, so when who’s now given something that’s really nice or who’s helped in some nice way and second beneficiary, the person that received that has to appreciate the good intention of the benefactor and feel good about that person and about what’s being done. And third, I think this is the most important part, has to be interested, really addressed. It has to want to desire to reciprocate in some way if there’s an appropriate opportunity. So there are three different parts to what I think is a good definition of the word.

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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at www.YourParentingMojo.com/Membership

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at www.YourHomeschoolingMojo.com

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at https://jenlumanlan.teachable.com/p/school

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