Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Home

Last week I wrote a post about choosing gratitude in our daily lives.  In that post I shared why I feel this is such a valuable practice and today I want to focus on 5 simple ways you can encourage and cultivate an attitude of gratitude within every member of your home.Attitude of Gratitude Printable

For a printable version of this quote that you can display in your home, click here: Gratitude Printable

  1. Work with your child(ren) to identify wants vs. needs. Ask them to help you list out the things they need to feel safe, comfortable and happy. Then take a few minutes to appreciate just how many (if not all) of their needs are currently being met.  Continue this lesson by asking everyone to be more conscious about using the word need when talking about a want. This is not intended to discourage your family from wanting things in the future. It is simply intended to encourage gratitude for needs that are met even when wants are not.
  2. Talk with your child(ren) about all the different ways they can show gratitude.  Examples could be saying thank you, saying other nice things, giving hugs and smiles, etc. The next time your child is in a situation where it would be appropriate to express gratitude, instead of prompting them to “say thank you”, which they can end up saying almost robotically, simply ask them to remember to “show gratitude”. This allows them to be genuine and thoughtful when figuring the best way to express their gratitude.
  3. Create a family “Lucky List”. In a notebook that you dedicate for only this purpose have each family member make a short list of the items they feel lucky to have in their lives. Take turns sharing your lists. Repeat this practice at an interval that works for your family. This activity is especially fun if you take care to note names and dates by each entry because it allows you to read back through old entries and be reminded of all the ways your family has been blessed through the years.
  4. Help your child(ren) to practice seeing the good. Discuss situations that might feel challenging or disappointing and ask your child to tell you things they could find to be grateful for in those difficult moments. Examples could be; their best friend is absent from school…but now they have the chance to make a new friend, rain cancels their sporting event…but now they get to stay inside and play their favorite board game or their favorite lego creation breaks…but now they get a chance to have fun building it again. Focus on the fact that they can always try to find something good to appreciate in any situation.
  5. Spend time as a family sharing the reasons you are grateful for each other. This works well as a dinnertime activity.  You go around the table and allow each person to state what they appreciate about all the other members of your family. This exercise is beneficial because it provides an opportunity for everyone to take turns expressing gratitude while also allowing the person receiving the compliments to feel grateful for the love and support of their family. Gratitude Text Box
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Talking to Your Children about Change

In our post Tuesday we touched on the importance of teaching children to develop a positive attitude towards change. So today, for Slow Down and Share Sunday, we have a quote and some discussion points that can be used to initiate conversation with children about change.

Sunday Quote 6(1)

 For a printable version of this quote, please click here: Sunday Quote 6

  • Share with your child(ren) that palm trees are able to survive hurricane strength winds that can uproot or break other kinds of trees. Ask them to guess why this might be. Then explain that the reason for this is because when powerful winds are blowing palm trees they don’t remain straight up. Instead they are flexible and bend, almost to the ground sometimes, and this is what helps them to survive.
  • Talk to them about about a time you were confronted by change and, like a palm tree, chose to bend instead of break. Try to keep your example basic and at their level of understanding. For instance, with a very young child you could use the idea of going to get ice cream and the store being out of your favorite flavor. Instead of getting mad and throwing a fit and leaving with no ice cream, you instead remained flexible and selected a different flavor so you still got a treat to enjoy. For an older child you might share about being at recess and having your best friend suddenly decide they don’t like to play the game you two usually play together. Instead of getting frustrated about your friend’s opinion or abandoning a game you really loved, you chose to bend a little and tell them you would try a new game for one day if you could return to the game you usually play tomorrow.  Then you ended up trying a new activity you really enjoyed and you still let your friend know it was important to you to play your favorite game another time.
  • Give them some different examples of scenarios where they might experience unexpected change and ask them to share what might happen if they chose to stand stiff and inflexible. You could follow that by asking how they could bend and be flexible in those same scenarios. Examples could be the following; a play date where their friend doesn’t want to play the same things they want, going to a resturant that doesn’t have their favorite food they like to order, finding out they have a substitute or new teacher at school or learning that there were going to be new rules at home.
  • After you talk with your child(ren) about this concept, whenever you feel them getting flustered when confronted by change you can simply remind them “Maybe we should try to bend a little…so we don’t break…just like a palm tree.”

Slow Down and Share Sunday – Kids in the Kitchen

The focus of today’s Slow Down and Share Sunday is to get your child/children excited to be more involved in the kitchen. Below we have provided a quote and some basic talking points your family could use to discuss this subject. 

Sunday Quote- 5For a printable version of this quote, please click here: Sunday Quote 5

  • Question your child/children about their favorite foods. Ask if they would like to try recipes to make these items themselves  (i.e. pizza, spaghetti, chicken nuggets etc.) or if they would like to try recipes based on their favorites (i.e. if they say they love strawberries, try a pie or muffins; if they say chocolate, try cookies or pudding, etc).
  • Pull out your cookbooks, go onto the web or take a trip to the library together with the intention of letting them browse recipes and see what inspires them.  Hand them some sticky notes and ask them to mark things they have an interest in making for the family.
  • Once they have a few recipes selected, take out your calendar and pick a night or two when they can make dinner for your family. Be sure to let them know how much you are looking forward to having some help with the meal preparation.
  • Have them select a basic cookie or muffin recipe and talk about who it would be fun to bake for. I have found that when you provide people like grandparents, neighbors, teachers or coaches with treats they respond with very excited and grateful reaction kids really enjoy :).
  • Another fun idea is to ask kids to find a recipe that uses a certain ingredient you could pick up locally. For example, we planned a trip to the local berry farm and picked raspberries. My boys then used them to bake a raspberry pie and raspberry cheesecake bars.  You could do this same type of thing with items available at your local farmers market or you could simply select an item that is on sale at the grocery store.

 

Slow Down and Share Sunday

Sunday Quote 4

For a printable version of this quote, please click here: Sunday Quote 4

With our recent posts on Reducing Chaos with Routines and Collaboratively Creating Morning and Evening Routines still fresh in our minds, we selected a quote for today’s “Slow Down and Share Sunday” that could be used to kick off a family discussion on responsibility.

Below we have provided a list of possible talking points you could draw on while discussing this quote with your family:

  • Begin by having your child/children tell you some of the things they have to do each day. Then have them share some of the things they want to be able to do every day. Ask them how they would feel if there was only time to do things they had to do.
  • Then repeat the same exercise, only this time for yourself. Share with them that grown-ups will not have time for things they want to do unless everyone in the family does their part to take care of themselves and the household.
  • Another way to demonstrate this point would be by having them consider if there was only one person in the family doing all the routine tasks like cleaning, shopping for the food and supplies, working to earn money, etc. Inquire as to whether or not they think that person would be as happy as the rest of the family? If everyone worked together to do their part would the whole family be happier?
  • Have your children imagine what it would be like in your home if everyone spent a whole week doing only things they wanted to do.  You could ask them questions such as; would people have clean clothes to wear if no one did laundry? Would friends be able to come over for playdates if the house was never picked up and cleaned? How would your bodies feel and smell if no one brushed their teeth, showered or got good sleep? Would there be good food to eat if no one shopped or meal planned?
  • Conclude the discussion by having everyone share what they want to do more of as a family. Make the point that each person has an important role in helping the “have to do” items get completed so there will be time for the “want to do” things. Let each person know just how valuable their contribution to the family is.

We hope the above quote and talking points will support and inspire family discussion on the importance of responsibility.

Slow Down and Share Sunday – Mistakes

Happy Sunday!! When considering what quote to share with you today we thought about our recent post on teaching children that their brain is like a muscle. When we encourage our children to exercise their brain with new or challenging activities there are bound to be times when they do not achieve immediate success. Today’s quote is one that can be shared and discussed with your family to reinforce messages of resilience and perseverance in times of struggle.July week 3 Quote

This quote is set up as a printable coloring sheet. Please click here to print: Sunday Quote 3 . We thought it would be fun to encourage children to exercise the creative part of their brain by coloring in and decorating the quote. Possible discussion points to use while they color are shared below:

  • Ask your child/children to share about a time they made a mistake. How did they feel? Use this as an opportunity to share that mistakes are an important part of learning and growing. When they learn from a mistake it is no longer considered a mistake…it has now become a learning opportunity. Now ask them to consider that same mistake mentioned previously and share what they learned from it.
  • Tell them about a time you made a mistake. Share what you learned in that situation. This could be an opportunity to remind children that even adults make mistakes.
  • Question your child/children about a time they kept trying even when things felt hard. Ask what they think happened with their brain in this situation. Use this as a chance to reinforce that our brains are like muscles that grow when they are exercised.
  • End by asking each family member to share a new activity they have been interesting in trying. Discuss all the choices you have when facing something new. Do you let the fear of making a mistake prevent you from trying at all? Will your brain learn new things if you don’t try? What if you choose to try and you do make a mistake; is that bad or is it a learning opportunity? What if you find out what you decided to try is hard; is that a problem or is it an opportunity to grow your brain?

We hope the quote and discussion points provided above serve as another tool you can use to cultivate a confident, optimistic and can-do mindset amongst your family.

Slow Down and Share Sunday

Sunday Quote 2For a printable version of this quote, please click here: Sunday Quote 2

Happy Sunday All! Here is our newest “Slow Down and Share Sunday” quote. This quote ties in nicely to the post shared at the beginning of this week on praise. One of the points made in the article we shared was that if we offer encouragement to our children that focuses on their effort as opposed to their ability we can help cultivate their desire to work hard. By sharing this quote and utilizing any of the talking points we provide below, you can begin to share this message with your own family :).

Possible discussion points:

  • Ask your child what they feel it means to “give their very best”.
  • Have them expand by telling you about a time that they felt their very best effort was given.
  • After they share, take a moment to let them know how much you enjoy watching them work hard. If you remember the specific situation they mentioned, let them know you remember watching them work their hardest in that moment.
  • Ask them what activities they feel come easily to them and what activities they feel they need to work harder at. (The point here is you can make a mental note of their response and when they are working at something they mentioned that takes more energy, you can be sure to offer a bit of additional praise focusing on their effort).
  • Ask them how it feels to accomplish something that required extra effort and compare that to accomplishing things that come very easily to them.
  • Discuss the value of hard work and perseverance. There is always the option to bring up stories of people who did not achieve success immediately (like Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team or Thomas Edison who failed countless times before finally inventing the lightbulb). Ask what they thought it was that allowed these people to eventually succeed.
  • Finally, share with your children moments from your own life where you feel you have really worked hard. A suggestion might be to discuss things they can continue to see you do, so you are modeling hard work on a consistent basis. For example, I could tell my children I am trying to learn to become a better chef and then when they see me try a new recipe they know I am putting out the effort to reach my goal. When cooking something new I could even casually mention to them that I am excited to push myself and make the effort to try something that does not come easily to me.

We hope the above initiates some quality family discussion about giving your very best!

Slow Down and Share Sunday

One of the best ways I have found to clarify our family chaos is to remember to consistently carve out moments for meaningful family conversation.  Even in the craziest and busiest of weeks, we can find 10 – 15 minutes, usually while sitting down for a meal, to unplug, share our thoughts and feelings, and focus our undivided attention on each other.  Spending this quality time in relaxed conversation with my family is so important.  This is because it provides an excellent forum for teaching ethics and values and by listening and talking with my children I am cultivating trust and keeping the the lines of communication open.  This is done with the hope that if a problem arises for any of them in the future they choose to bring it to me instead of taking it to someone else.

The intention for our Slow Down and Share Sunday postings is that we provide you with an inspiration you can have ready to use to spark meaningful dialogue during your own carved out moments of family conversation.  We have enjoyed using quotes and/or short stories in our home as a way to start discussions.  Every Sunday we will provide one of these for you and we will also suggest possible talking points you could utilize to get conversation progressing in an engaging yet relaxed way.  Our first quote we chose to share is pictured below. For a printable version, please click here: SundayQuote1.

SundayQuote1Possible pathways of discussion for this quote:

  • Ask your child/children if they know what it means to learn or ask what learning means to them.  Explain what it is to you.
  •  Talk to them about their brain and how it is like their very own library or computer that they can fill up with all kinds of info.
  •  Discuss different ways learning can take place.  Inquire about their favorite ways to gather new information.
  • Ask them what types of things they like learning about the most and what new things they would like to learn more about.  Share with them what you enjoy learning or what new things you would like to learn more about.
  •  Brainstorm ways you can have new learning experiences as individuals and as a family.
  •  Plan a few new learning opportunities with them and let them see you add them to your calendar.  Reinforce that you support their interest in learning.
  •  Plan a new learning opportunity for yourself and discuss with them that while you enjoy supporting their learning it also is important that you make time to learn new things as well.
  • Some simple learning opportunity ideas could be a library outing to research books on a topic they want to know more about, looking up a new recipe they want to try to cook on the web, going on a hike to a new destination, trying a new restaurant, participating in new athletic or artistic activity…the possibilities are endless!

Happy Fourth of July!!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYONE!! It seems so fitting that our very first Friday Favorites post would fall on a holiday. In our family holidays are one of our absolute favorite things.  The main reason Kellie and I enjoy holidays is because they give us a great opportunity to establish family traditions and we enjoy the familiarity of returning to them no matter what else is going on in our busy lives.  Some of our most lasting memories of the people we love stem from our family traditions.  Holidays also provide us with a wonderful opportunity to discuss values with our children, and they often afford us a chance to flex our creative muscles.  Here are handful of our favorite ways to celebrate on the Fourth!!

Quotation Conversation Starter

On the morning of a holiday, I often print out and hang up a quote that I can use to start a conversation about the holiday with my kids. This year I am going to use this one that Kellie made for me: 4th of July Kids Printable

Click here for your own copy to print: 4th of July Kids Printable

Possible conversation starters are:

  • A discussion of what our flag stands for
  • A review of the significance of the stars and stripes
  • Have a dialogue about what it means to be a part of one nation
  • A short brain-storming session on age-appropriate ways your family can contribute to our country. Possible ideas are; writing a letter to a solider, cleaning up a local park or beach or having a family history lesson

Printable Activities

Another thing we often do on holidays is print out a few activity sheets for the kids to do at some point during the day. We typically pull them out at the point that our hands are the most full (often during meal prep time). Kidsactivitiesblog.com is a site that we have found with great options. The link below will take you right to some fun sheets you can use: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/54263/4th-of-july-free-activity-printables. We also like to find activities that make fun keepsakes. Here is an example of one we created:4th of July Poem-1 And here is a link to a blank version of the above image for you to print: Freedom Worksheet for Kids

Themed Treats

We enjoy celebrating with a themed treat! Scroll down for a post on a festive treat that Kellie made.

Reusable Decorations

We like making a craft with our children each holiday. We are fond of choosing projects that can be re-used year after year as decorations. Below we have posted age-appropriate crafts we did with our children this year that doubled as decorations. Thank you for letting us share this short round-up of our favorite ways to celebrate the Fourth!