How do we teach kids about giving and being gracious?
What behaviors demonstrate gratitude?

From a young age we tell kids they need to say thank you when ever they receive something. Kids lea21964882533_51eccae459_zrn that the response to being given something whether a physical thing or a service is to say thank you. So they say thank you. Adults tell them they have good manners. But what if kids learned the meaning of thank you? Ask a child why we should be nice to friends or why we thank people when they do something nice for us and you will probably hear everything from “I don’t know” to “because it’s a good thing to do.” Mostly kids have learned to say thank you without connecting the words and actions to emotions.

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, here are some ways to teach kids to connect the words ‘thank you’ with the action being performed and the feelings experienced by the people involved in the exchange. Remember to follow the activity with a discussion about how it made the kids feel!

Here are four activities to help kids learn to express and receive gratitude:

1. Growing Wall of Gratitude: This activity is great for right before or right after ‘The Secret Garden’ (this is what I call savasana in my kids’ yoga classes) or any quiet time. Take a huge poster board or long roll of craft paper and tack it up to a wall at a height all of the kids can reach. The bigger the better! Before class, cut out different shapes and colors of construction paper. Make sure they are large enough to write a sentence on. Give one piece of paper and a marker to each child either while they are in their Secret Garden or just at a quiet transition. Ask them to write down one thing that made them happy either in class that day or since the last class. Then have the kids attach their shape of happiness/gratitude to the poster using two-sided tape or adhesive s22560482756_245378db78_zquares. Each class, the kids can watch their gratitude for happy things grow.

2. The Compliment Train: This requires no supplies at all and is a great activity for when kids are gathered in a circle already. Ask the kids, one at a time, to give a genuine compliment to the person sitting to their right. I go clockwise just to make it easy for me to remember where we started. The kid receiving the compliment gets to practice being gracious and receiving compliments as well. The first child says “Joy, I like your shirt today with the butterfly,” and Joy responds with something like “Thanks for noticing the butterfly. Butterflies make me happy because of their colors.” Every child should have a chance to both give and receive a genuine compliment. Sometimes the receiving is harder than the giving!

3. Yoga Thank You Card: Have kids decorate or create a thank you card for the person who brings them to Yoga class. Have them keep the card Yoga themed. Maybe they draw pictures of what they do at Yoga class. Maybe they write a story about how class makes them feel. Of course, if you don’t teach Yoga, you could use the class theme of your choice. Each child delivers their thank you card to the provider of their ride when that person picks them up from class. This teaches kids that little things, like driving them places, are things that other people do for them and how to show appreciation for the act. If your child doesn’t take Yoga (yet), she can theme the card to whatever activity to which she regularly needs a ride. Maybe it’s a card for her school bus driver!22560305636_0ff0d2479a_z

4. “How Would You Feel Without It” Game: This game can be played any time during the day. It is super fun if everyone is in a goofy, silly mood as you can come up with all kinds of wild things to fill in the blank! No supplies needed! Just ask the kids “what would you feel like without ___?” and fill in the blank with various everyday items or people. They will be surprised how different life would be without some of the things they consider “essential”. You may want to end with a discussion about how other people live without the items you all joked about and live with those feelings every day.

These activities can be adapted for almost any age. Even teenagers and adults love to know their efforts are appreciated. Sometimes receiving gratitude takes more practice than being thankful. Remember to always practice both!

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Kidding Around Yoga Justice Information

 Company Justice Statement

We stand with you, our Black family. At Kidding Around Yoga, we are a worldwide multicultural community committed to bringing the teaching of yoga to children and families worldwide. Our aspirations have always been to treat all humans with dignity, respect and care. We recognize that aspirations and intentions are different from impact. Our good intentions have not diminished the impact of our lack of understanding. We acknowledge the harm experienced by Black people and people of color within our organization. We have been blind to the ways in which white supremacy culture has been at play within our materials, structures and communications. We are deeply humbled and saddened to start to realize the extent to which BIPOC have been harmed, undersupported, ignored, dismissed, asked to perform emotional labor for free, and otherwise not held in the ways we aspire to hold everyone. We appreciate those who continued to point out to us our blindspots, even when we failed to listen or honor the wisdom they were bringing. We apologize. We know it is not enough. We are committing to strengthening our anti-racist actions, to continue looking deeper into our structures and personal biases, and to make ongoing changes to embody the teachings of yoga.

This is a time to wake up, to speak up, to stand up. This is a time to fight for what is right and educate those who are still in the dark. Every Black life matters. We all recognize that these are not new issues, but this IS a new opportunity to be allies and agents of change, in large and small ways. Let us not hide from this challenge or wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting. We each have a voice and a responsibility to fight for a better, more just and peaceful world. Join us as we listen, as we learn, as we change, and as we do what we do best: share the ancient and powerful practice of yoga and meditation with children across the globe.

In addition to the ways in which KAY supports bringing yoga to all children, we specifically recognize and commit to the following:

► Our materials and content need to be reviewed and updated. Some existing content contains ideas or themes rooted in racist structures we are now becoming aware of. These have caused harm and discrimination, and we are committed to a thorough review and action steps. We will give updates as to our actions regarding these materials.

We also recognize that we have not fully understood what cultural appropriation of yoga looks like. We understand that, in certain instances, we have used yoga in a way that has diminished its roots and caused harm to the culture from which it arises. We are undergoing a deep review of our materials and marketing, in this light, and will give updates as to our actions as a result of this review.

We also recognize that asking our Black teachers to share what they are doing to guide themselves through these “trying times” was felt as insensitive by many teachers. It was not our intention to cause harm in this way, but we understand how this is emotional labor, and that teachers need to be compensated for this. We will compensate any teachers we call upon to support us in this process.

We acknowledge the lack of Black leadership within KAY, and are actively expanding the leadership team to include and elevate Black wisdom and voices. This week, we are delighted to welcome Shawandra Ford and Camelia Brown onto the leadership team. We will continue to expand our team in the coming weeks.

We are revamping our KAY4ALL training to include specific anti-racist training. We will make it mandatory and included for all trainees and trainers. Meanwhile, KAY Leadership is undergoing anti-racist trainings themselves, which will be ongoing.

We are in the process of allocating resources to support scholarships for BIPOC trainees, to fund classes in underserved communities, and to offer financial support to organizations upholding anti-racism and helping make yoga accessible and available to BIPOC families.

In order to move forward and accomplish the mandates listed above, we have created a Justice Task Force. The JTF will identify and implement the changes needed within KAY. The JTF consists of seasoned and new team leaders committed to serving to create an anti-racist culture within our organization.

We will be adding tasks to the list, as we grow and evolve in our understanding of what needs to be done. We hope you will join us in doing this work in your own lives.

We are open to feedback, but we understand that it is no one’s job but ours to look, to learn, to digest, and to take action. We stand by our commitment to become an anti-racist organization whose work uplifts, supports and learns from Black wisdom and leadership.

Please email info@kiddingaroundyoga.com if you wish to reach out to us in regard to this statement, whether it’s feedback, an offer to join our efforts, or you want to be kept up to date with these promises. 

Namaste,

Kidding Around Yoga

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