As we begin the new year, it’s an opportunity to start fresh and find ways that make our world a brighter place. This month, we’re focusing on what it means to be appreciative. Appreciation goes hand in hand with gratitude, and showing the kids around you what that means is important. This is a big concept for children to learn and it begins by seeing it in action. Here are some activities and ideas that model and teach the meaning of appreciation.
Make appreciation part of your daily routine.
Set aside some time during the day, at the dinner table, or before bedtime to talk about what things you and your children appreciate for that day. That ‘appreciation time’ can be an opportunity for each person to share something that was good about the day, or something that they were thankful for that day. This cultivates a mindset of appreciation and thankfulness that helps focus on the positives rather than the negatives.
Model appreciative language.
Parents and nannies can model appreciation in how they talk. For example, ‘Aren’t we lucky to have Clark as our neighbor?’ or ‘Isn’t it wonderful that you have Lily at school to play with?’ In addition, share things that you appreciate about one another in your family. Encourage your kids to find the uniqueness in each person and be appreciative for their differences.
Work on a larger scale project together.
Sit down with the children and come up with some ideas on how you can give back to the community or someone you know that needs some encouragement. Perhaps it’s sponsoring a child overseas every month, or maybe it’s making cookies or dinner for a sick or elderly neighbor or friend. Determining a larger scale ‘appreciation project’ will help expand your children’s worldview, and help them think about people other than themselves.
In a world where ‘more’ is always promoted as ‘better’, it is important to instill the basics of thankfulness – even for the smallest things. Children love to ask for things and if you always grant their wishes and requests, it becomes more difficult to be grateful. So, practice saying no when applicable, and help them become resilient and gracious when they don’t get what they want. When kids see the adults in their lives being grateful and appreciative, then they will in turn want to model similar behavior. In the end, this makes the world a stronger and more loving place.