Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Teaching Kids to Be ThankfulYou just can’t convince me that a good fall breeze, beautiful leaves, or a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks can’t make everything better. I love hoodies and all things outdoors. This is my family’s first fall in Arkansas, so I am learning to love the heat (still) and the joys of Saturday morning soccer in the fall. With this season comes a time of reflection and thankfulness.

But how do we teach small children to be thankful? In a world where kids seek satisfaction first and think toys and material goods are the key to happiness, I am perplexed. I am only 32, but I feel like the world I grew up in was different from this one. Here are some ideas on how to teach your little ones to be thankful this fall season.

Serve Others
Thanksgiving is a time when many go without food and fancy meals. You can volunteer with your local church or other civic organization. Food pantries are a great way to show kids that not everyone has a pantry stocked week-to-week. If you have toddlers, seek an organization that will allow you to bring your little ones. If you’re still a mom to a baby, consider baby wearing. (Like we need another excuse to wear our Tula!) Many communities have Thanksgiving dinners that need volunteers. Have your kids help you make small bags to donate to local organizations. October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. My local MOPS group made small bags to donate to hospitals for moms who have experienced loss. Kids can help stuff bags, make cards, or even help deliver.

Get Crafty
Pinterest is full of fun ideas for fall crafts. Break out the finger paints, markers, and crayons and have your toddlers make small crafts for those they are thankful for this year. We recently purchased a pack of cardstock and made pumpkins for each door in our house. Everyone has a pumpkin bedroom door now. My daughter loves to make crafts for her Mimi and Grammy. If you have a baby, you can still do a fun fingerprint craft.

Get into the Conversation
One fun way to teach our kids to be thankful is to get talking. My daughter just turned 4, and it has been fun talking about who we are thankful for this fall. We were given a small wooden board from Target with clothespins, and each Sunday, we change it up. I sit with her and ask her what she is thankful for this week. I then take small post-it notes and write down her responses. This board hangs by the garage door where we see it daily and we talk about those things for the week. Her first response was Jesus, and this week it was Levi’s naps. (Her 2-year-old brother has recently given up napping.) I added a healthy baby and she even wanted me to write down Paw Patrol and Daddy’s job. It will amaze you what your kids are thankful for and how much they really do notice.

While I don’t have the answer on how to teach our little ones to be thankful toddlers, I do know it’s important that they are aware of the gifts they have. I know I could learn from Johanna and take some tips on how to be thankful for today and what I have. I want my children to grow up to be thankful, appreciative adults. I don’t want to fail them as a mom who is always wishing for more or dissatisfied with the present.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two, almost three, in Arkansas where she is thankful for Shopkins and naptime so she can blog.

Whose Mother’s Day is it Anyway?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

334207_496956690320518_1327671256_oLast year, I nearly forgot about Mother’s Day. As parents of a preschooler, toddler and newborn, we were just treading water through a sea of cluster feeds, mealtimes, diapers, bath times and bedtimes, just trying not to go under. If there wasn’t a play date or appointment of some sort scheduled, I usually had no idea what day it was.

So when we got home from church and were now painfully aware that we had missed Mother’s Day, I made an effort via email and sent my mom a gift certificate to one of her favorite stores. I made a mental note to call in case she hadn’t checked email that day, but I figured she’d probably call me at some point and I would tell her about it then.

But she never called.

It wasn’t until I spoke to her the next day–she brightened when I mentioned the email gift card, which she had not seen—that it hit me. My mom didn’t call me, not because she forgot, but because she thought that I forgot her.

I think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day are great days. Sure, you can chalk them up to the greeting card industry and just another reason to buy flowers and candy, but I want to use days like these to teach my girls the huge importance of telling people that you value them. Especially people like moms and dads and grandparents, people who pour their very heart and soul into you each day so that you feel confident, secure and loved. I also try to let them see me acknowledge people around me without waiting for a holiday to say thanks. Gratitude is a practice, not a special-occasion behavior.

But I think there is a time to let go of Mother’s Day, and I have decided that when my girls are mothers, I am passing the torch. They will have full schedules, full brains, full hands, and full hearts, and it will be time for me to turn and appreciate them in their important role as mother, without giving them one more thing to remember—or forget.

I will still be their mom. They will still call me mom, always. But it will be time for me to give the day to them.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Teaching Appreciation

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Teaching AppreciationOne thing that is important to me on days like Mother’s Day is that my kids get how important it is to appreciate people. These holidays, although, yes, probably created and lobbied for inclusion by card and flower companies, also serve as a way to force us to take time out and reflect on someone’s impact in our lives.

A temptation on days like this is to run out to the grocery store or Walgreens, buy the obligatory trinket or flowers and call it a day.  Although my kids are still pretty small, my husband and I have already talked about what we want our kids to do on Mother and Father’s Day–we don’t want them just accompanying us to buy something for the other person. We want them to take time out to do something for the other person that requires thought and effort on their part.

Whether it’s an idea we can help them make into a reality, or something they can do all on their own, it’s important to us that the point of these days isn’t to buy more stuff, but to show appreciation for someone and everything they do for you.

Here are a few ways for kids of all ages to show appreciation on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, or other holidays:

  1. Make a coupon book. For this activity, all you need to crayons, paper, and some imagination! What are some things this person does for you on a regular basis? What is something you’d like to do for them? What could make their day bright.
  2.  Make a card. Even babies can help make a card by stamping their tiny hands or feet in it. Little children can help pick out a card or make one with simple craft supplies
  3. Write a letter. Small children who can’t write still have opinions! Ask them open-ended questions about why they love the person being honored and write it all down for them. If your child is still a baby, write down memories of a special time with mom and baby from your point of view, or even baby’s perspective.
  4. Plan a family fun day. Don’t just go out to eat–make memories! It can be a picnic at the park, a nature hike, anything special your family can do together.
  5. Make a meal together. Plan a meal that your kids can help make, whether they suggest a dish, help you put it together, or prepare it themselves.

How do you want your children to participate on appreciation days like these?

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, NY.