Friday, September 8, 2017

Parenting in the Aftermath--Your children are watching

I cannot write a post today, without thinking of the millions of people affected by the recent hurricanes, both super storms that are causing pain and grief to millions of people in their paths.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the individuals who are dealing with the destruction and massive cleanup that faces them in the coming days.

To the families that are facing days without power and the tough job of cleaning up homes, businesses and communities, I say to you:  Remember your children are watching.  During times of stress and disappointment: your children are watching.  When you feel and anger, fear and helplessness: your children are watching.  When you take your stress out on your husband, wife or neighbor: your children are watching.

Children get their cues on how to behave from you.  So if you are stressed, overwrought, angry or depressed, you can expect the same from them.  This can be your finest hour of parenting or your worst.  The choice is yours.

During times of difficulty, choose to rise above the situation.  Choose to be the parent who can smile in the face of adversity.  Choose to be the neighbor who is reaching out to comfort others.  Choose to lend a hand, or a meal or a kind word to those who were hit harder than you.  Choose to be the person who creates a feeling of warmth and calm in the midst of frustration and chaos.

You will be teaching your children such a POWERFUL message.  Everything will be fine.  Everything will eventually be normal again. And while things are not how you would like them to be, you are able to choose to make the best of it--for you, for your family, for your neighbors, and for future generations!  The challenge is great--but remember you are shaping the future of your children's response to heartbreak and disappointment.  Be their guiding light.
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Five Simple Ways to Teach Gratitude

I was so lucky to attend a Cubs Spring Training Game last week.  The weather was beautiful in sunny Arizona.  The Cubs didn't disappoint either, hitting home runs and making incredible defensive plays. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was so thankful to be there with my husband.  There were families sitting near us, and the children in those families didn't share my sentiments.

First, let me explain that we had splurged on excellent seats.  We were in the second row, directly behind the Cubs dugout.  Seated both in front of us and behind us were two families.  The family in the first row was a dad and his two young boys (around 6 and 8 years old).  The dad spent the game leaving his seat to buy the two boys shirts, nachos (which ended up uneaten on the ground), and finally ice cream.  The older boy threw a fit because his dad did not bring him the flavor of ice cream that he wanted.  He ranted and raved at the dad, and dad apologized over and over again.  Near the end of the game, they left and left the new shirts in their bag on the ground.  Keep in mind, these boys were in FRONT ROW SEATS!  They had better seats than anyone else at the game.  This idea was clearly not brought to their attention.

Behind us was a family with older children. Mom left this family near the end of the game to buy cotton candy for her middle school age daughter. She was gone a long time.  When she returned, she told her daughter that she waited in a very long line and when she finally got to the front, they were all out of cotton candy.  The daughter got very upset and began throwing a fit that her mom didn't try another counter or find the cotton candy that she wanted.  As a side note, this family had already enjoyed a complete lunch, when Mom had gone and gotten burgers and fries and drinks for the family.But once again,  Mom felt guilty and apologized over and over again.

We need to do better, parents!!!!  If we don't teach our children to appreciate the things we give them, then why are we surprised when they grow up to be entitled, unhappy and ungrateful.  Why were these parents apologizing to their kids, in the midst of giving their children such a wonderful experience?  I found it difficult to hold my tongue and listen to these apologetic parents, while their children sat in the best seats in the entire stadium.  Thousands of other people were less fortunate than these families but clearly this lesson was lost on the children.  Where is the active teaching of thankfulness and appreciation?  Here are some suggestions to help teach these important lessons to our kids, so that we as parents can develop empathy and appreciation in our children.

1.  Model Thankful Behavior:  Kids learn what they live.  Show them you appreciate things in your life by thanking your spouse, children and others when they give you something or make you feel happy.

2.  Pray:  Say a prayer of thankfulness before meals or before bedtime with your children.  This practice of thinking outside one's self is an amazing way to pass on the lesson of being grateful for simple things like food, a warm house, a comfy bed, our loved ones, etc.

3.  Help Others:  Nothing breeds gratefulness like the realization that everyone doesn't have what you have.  Donate food to a food pantry and discuss with your children that some don't have enough to eat.  Donate clothes to a charity and discuss that some children don't get new clothes. You get the idea.  Generous people are grateful people.

4.  Teach Polite Words:  Start when your children are small, requiring them to use polite words.  Expect them to ask for things with polite words "Please may I have" and regularly use "thank you" when they receive something.  Remind them that at birthday celebrations and other gift centered times, each gift requires a verbal thank you.

5.  Write Thank You Notes:  Teaching children to send thank you notes helps them acknowledge that they appreciate a gift.  This is a wonderful exercise in appreciation, and a skill they will need through out their lives.

These five tips will go a long way in helping your children realize the blessings in their lives.  Small lessons over time make a huge difference.  Embrace thankfulness in your own heart and life, and see it spill over into the attitude of your entire family.

For more ideas go to this helpful post:

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