Children’s attention span or ability to concentrate is constantly growing. If we compare a one-year-old and a five-year-old, it’s clear that the progression is huge. This aspect, like every aspect of childhood development, can be… More
In the psychologist’s jargon, we say that a set of actions has been selected and that you now work on auto-pilot.
The ability to move from one behavior to another depending on the requirements of the environment.
The ability to actively and effectively search information contained in your memory.
The ability to organize a series of actions in one optimal sequence to achieve a goal.
They are manifested by difficulties in passing from one behavior to another depending on the environmental requirements.
They are manifested by difficulties in performing two tasks at the same time while each of the tasks can be performed individually without difficulty.
They are manifested by difficulties in organizing a series of actions in an optimal sequence to achieve a goal.
Executive function is like the CEO of the brain. It’s in charge of making sure things get done. When kids have issues with executive functioning, any task that requires planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking becomes a challenge. The more you know about the challenges, the better you’ll be able to help your child build her executive skills and manage the difficulties.
Many studies have demonstrated the fact that including more physical activity in children’s daily schedule may help them focus. I am sure you have heard the expression a healthy mind in a healthy body. The nature of this expression becomes clear when we read about all the benefits children reap from physical activity. Among other things, physical activity can be helpful for the development of strong bones and muscles, increase endurance, and improve self-esteem. Certain studies have also highlighted the fact that it is easier for children who are in better physical condition to make decisions, plan, and follow instructions.
Take a few minutes to examine your day. Do you think children have sufficient opportunities to be physically active? Can you compare the time children spend sitting down and the number of opportunities they have to run and jump for example? Like adults, children are all different. Some adults need to be more active while others are more sedentary. Personally, I have a strong need for physical activity. There’s nothing like a thirty-minute run to increase my productivity at work. The same is true for children. The more they move during the day, the easier it is for them to focus and remain seated, for example at lunch time or during story time.
I would like to act as a spokesperson and convince you to include more physical activity in your daily routine. I even encourage you to be active with your group. It will be a win-win, trust me. Here are a few simple ways to get children to move more.
- Make sure children have time to play outside every day.
- Add stretching exercises to your morning routine to help each child’s body wake up. Once their body has had the opportunity to be active, their brain will have the ability to concentrate on a more sedentary activity.
- Encourage children to be active when they are moving from one area to another within your daycare. For example, have them imitate different animals, hop, etc.
- Every day, especially when it’s raining, be sure to include one high-energy activity. The possibilities are endless.
- Before sitting down for an activity for which children will need to focus, take a few minutes to stand up and perform a few stretching exercises. Afterwards, children will be able to concentrate on the task at hand.
- If you have enough room within your daycare, set up an “active play” area. Add cushions, mats, balls, hula hoops, etc. Any equipment or material children can use to release their extra energy should be in this area.
1, 2, 3…move!
- Navigating a conversation can be difficult for kids with social skills issues.
- Different skills are required for various parts of a conversation.
- You can help your child get better at joining, starting, maintaining and ending conversations.
For most people, having a conversation is easy. We don’t think about having to make appropriate comments or how to join in when other people are talking. But for kids with social skills issues, the normal flow of conversation can be hard.
Important skills, like reading body language and knowing what to say (and when to say it), don’t come easily to them. Here’s a look at the four parts of a conversation, the skills involved, and how to help your child navigate each one.
1. Joining a Conversation
Group conversations are tricky because there’s more than one person to connect with. Each person has a unique personality and communication style. The group itself has a unique way of functioning, based on who’s in it and what’s being discussed.
- Reading the body language of the group to know if it’s appropriate to join in.
- Using the right phrases to ask to be included.
- Understanding the tone of voice people use when they aren’t OK with you joining.
- Knowing what’s being discussed, and staying on topic.
Why it might be hard: Trouble reading body language can keep kids from knowing if a conversation is private or open. They may also misunderstand the rhythm of the conversation. Is the pause in talking a natural lull? Or is someone just taking time to breathe? And some kids don’t get that they need to talk about the topic at hand to join a conversation.
How to help:
- Use videos, TV shows or real-life events to point out situations where a group is turned away or talking privately. Also, point out when people in a conversation are looking around and seem open to others joining.
- Model for your child how to wait for a break in the flow of conversation and then ask a question, like “Is it OK if I join you?”
- Remind your child to listen and say something related to what others are saying. Your child can use “wh” questions (who, what, when, where and why) to get up to speed.
2. Starting a Conversation
Launching a conversation involves a number of steps. To be successful at it, you have to do them all correctly. The first step is often the hardest: figuring out if this is the right time to have a conversation.
- Knowing to start with a greeting, and having the language to do that.
- Recognizing if it’s an appropriate time to have a conversation.
- Choosing an appropriate topic and having phrases to open the dialogue.
- Recognizing nonverbal cues that show if the other person is interested and wants to talk.
Why it might be hard: Kids who are impulsive may burst into a conversation without any greeting. They may act like the other person already knows what they’re thinking. Some kids may not be able to read the “feel” of a room to know if it’s a good time to start a conversation. And once they start, they may not pick up on signs that the person isn’t interested in talking.
How to help:
- Teach basic greeting phrases to use with familiar people (“Hi, how are you?”) and with unfamiliar people (“Hi, I’m Joe—I’m Miranda’s neighbor”).
- Show your child what someone’s body language looks like when the person does and doesn’t want to talk. Also show examples of a neutral or uncomfortable facethat might mean a lack of interest.
3. Maintaining a Conversation
The work doesn’t stop once kids with social skills challenges enter a conversation. Continuing the conversation can be difficult, too. It requires following a number of social rules—and not just for a minute or two.
- Knowing how to take turns in a conversation.
- Listening to what the other person says and responding appropriately.
- Being able to stay on topic.
- Reading body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
Why it can be hard: Impulsivity may cause kids to blurt something out or interrupt when they’re excited about a topic. Trouble with nonverbal cues may keep them from realizing that the other person is trying to speak or is losing interest. Kids also might be so stuck on one thought that they can’t let go of it.
How to help:
- Teach your child how to ask follow-up questions to show he’s heard and is interested in what the other person is saying. Give him scripted examples to practice and use.
- Help your child practice keeping a thought in mind instead of blurting it out. Let him know it’s OK to say, “Remind me that I wanted to say something about that once you’re done,” if he’s worried he’ll forget his point.
- Brainstorm words or phrases he can use to show he’s paying attention during conversation, like “right” or “that’s cool.” Make sure he knows he needs to mix them up a little because saying the same thing over and over can sound like he’s not paying attention.
- Role-play and demonstrate how saying something off-topic or at the wrong time can sound like he’s not interested in what someone else is talking about.
4. Ending a Conversation
Ending a conversation can be as challenging as starting one. You have to read the situation correctly to know if it’s the right time to wrap it up. And then, you have to have the words to end it appropriately.
- Reading body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
- Making sense of tone of voice and other verbal cues.
- Being aware of how your own verbal and nonverbal cues may look to others (perspective-taking).
- Conveying intent through language. (For example, “Well, I have to go now.”)
Why it can be challenging: Since many kids with social skills issues have trouble reading body language, they may not recognize that a person is no longer interested or needs to end a conversation. Kids who are impulsive or who struggle with communication skills may also end a conversation abruptly without saying “goodbye,” just walking away or hanging up the phone.
How to help:
- Demonstrate some of the nonverbal cues your child may see when someone is trying to end a conversation, like checking the time, turning away or yawning.
- Teach your child some of the verbal cues that show someone is trying to end a conversation, such as not answering questions, saying they should go or saying things like “So…” or “Well….”
- Explain that your child can use these cues to end a conversation, too.
- Teach phrases your child can use to know if the conversation is over. One example is: “Are you OK to keep talking, or do you need to leave?”
- Help your child learn and practice how to close with a sentence like “It was good talking to you,” or “Well, I have to get going now,” before walking away.
For kids with social skills issues, learning the art of conversation takes lots of direct instruction and practice. So it’s important to be patient, and know that you may have to reinforce these skills over and over.
Learn more about what trouble picking up on social cues can look like in different grades. Read how a mom got her son to stop interrupting. And find out how the “chicken wing” rule can help kids learn to respect personal space during conversations.
- Understanding body language, facial expressions and tone of voice are key conversation skills.
- Being familiar with nonverbal cues, like when someone looks around or checks the time, can help your child know when it’s a good time to join or end a conversation.
- Learning the art of conversation takes a lot of practice, so it’s important to be patient with your child.
The source can be found here.
We all know that anxiety can be present at any age, even in very young children. As they grow, most children follow a “normal” developmental trajectory in terms of anxiety manifestations. In simple terms, since anxiety is part of childhood development, we can expect to see children deal with it at different stages. The most common form of anxiety seen in children is separation anxiety. Others will develop signs and symptoms associated with more severe anxiety. As early childhood educators, you may have observed persistent signs associated with anxiety in children. You may even have felt powerless when you faced anxiety-related behaviors. There is no miracle recipe. However, certain strategies can be considered to help children in general, particularly those who may experience more serious symptoms.
A healthy lifestyle at its best
A rested, well-fed child who has a consistent schedule and healthy, balanced lifestyle habits may, over time, demonstrate fewer anxiety-related signs and behaviors. Anxiety tends to increase during times of stress or during periods when a child is more tired. For this reason, be sure to create a stable routine that leaves plenty of time for rest. Alternate between calm and active games and activities. Watch for signs. You may have to temporarily reorganize your schedule to fulfill the needs of your group if children need more rest.
Balance “reassurance” and “overprotectiveness”
When we intervene with an anxious child, reassuring him about his fears is extremely important. The same is true for future events. With an anxious child, you must aim to prepare him for unforeseeable events as much as possible. However, be very careful. Do not become overprotective. Try to find the middle ground between reassuring the child and preventing him from taking initiatives and developing a go-getter attitude. In the same way, make sure you aren’t helping the child avoid all situations that may cause anxiety or increase his level of anxiety. Instead, simply accompany the child whenever he is facing an anxiety-inducing situation.
Self-esteem is built day by day. The more confident a child is, the more he will believe in his ability to succeed. His level of anxiety will most likely go down. Make a point of positively reinforcing an anxious child. Set him up for success and show him you have faith in his abilities…and your own. Keep in mind that children learn by example and you are an important role model.
Plan for what’s coming
Of course, we can’t plan everything. Nonetheless, integrating an illustrated schedule and announcing field trips and special activities ahead of time can help children feel prepared to face what’s coming. All children need to be reassured whenever they face unfamiliar people or activities. Explaining how and when things are going to occur will help an anxious child. Aim to use visual tools as often as possible.
Each child is unique. If an anxious child feels accepted despite his anxiety, it will be much easier for him to grow and evolve. Accompany an anxious child as much as possible.
With your help, an anxious child can tackle the challenges associated with his anxiety.
The source can be found here.
“I wish I knew this at the beginning of the school year!” How many times have you realized that you could have done things differently as a parent, had you had better knowledge about your kid’s learning and development?
In this article, I would like to explain the differences between two critical terms: accommodation and remediation. These two terms often remain under-the-radar in many parent-teacher meetings and are the cause of fruitless attempts of improving students’ performance in school. Throughout my work as an educational specialist, I meet with many parents who are faced with many challenges in helping their children succeed with tasks that require cognitive/executive functions. These kids face different kinds of issues on a daily basis. The main two being homework and class performance.
Nevertheless, those issues surface much more in school than at home. Therefore, teacher-parent collaboration is essential. In the absence of effective cooperation, many parents end up feeling hopeless as they see how their children are not fulfilling their true potential as individuals and as learners. Many parents share with me their willingness to cooperate and meet with the school’s demands, but the issues seem to persist; they keep on getting negative reports from the teachers. Nothing seems to be working.
To learn more about their children, I ask parents many different questions seeking to clarify the areas of struggle.
For example, one parent explained to me how his son can read a chapter from the textbook but cannot recall what he read shortly after. A more significant problem emerged when the child started avoiding learning and showing outburst of anger. When the school administrator contacted the parents, the conversation revolved around the behavior and conclusion that the student might have ADHD or dyslexia [or both]. The teacher reported many ways to differentiate the teaching, some of which include moving the student’s seat closer to the board, breaking the tasks down into smaller tasks, and even working with the student one-on-one during lunch time. All these attempts ended up fruitless. The school’s recommendation was to send the student for an evaluation. Sadly, no one suggested discussing a plan of action to remediate to the child’s weak working memory, an essential executive function.
Parents know that when the issue pertains to their children their ability to control their emotions becomes compromised rapidly; some even admit that they feel physical aching during those meetings in school. Another ability that is weakened during these situations relates to asking the right questions, one of which could be the school’s ability to help the child.
If we want to help struggling students, we must clarify two types of appropriate supports. Theses supports fall into two categories: accommodation and remediation. Parents should find out whether the teacher and/or school are able and ready to provide students with these kinds of support. Some schools do so as part of their teaching style, other schools do not. Accommodation means providing support for the sake of achieving a result. For example, erecting a wheelchair ramp at the entrance of the City Hall is a support for the disables who needs to enter the building. Another example, when my student broke his finger in basketball practice, the nurse recommended that he will type his class-notes on the computer. These two cases are examples of accommodations where support is available for one to attain his/her goal. These accommodations are not meant to heal the disability nor the finger of my student. It will, nevertheless, help them achieve what they need to get.
In contrast to accommodation, remediation deals with the healing of the problem. The word remediation stems from the Latin word, remedialis, which means “healing, curing.” For example, a student who suffers from test anxiety and resorts to procrastination will benefit from sessions with a coach or a counselor who will help the student find out about causes and together form effective solutions. Moreover, the student may discover that her test anxiety stems from a fear of failure. The work with a coach will then focus on flexibility and problem-solving skills.
Another example of remediation could be a student with dyscalculia who struggles with understanding number-related concepts. It was the Kindergarten teacher who noticed the problem first. However, due to the child’s ability to remember answers rather than understand processes, the issue surfaced only in fourth grade. At that juncture, the teacher, who did not know the previous teachers, allowed the student to use a calculator in class. After a whole year of using a calculator, the student arrived in 5th grade unaware of the concept of place value. Needless to mention his arithmetic skills were below grade level. To remediate the student problem of dyscalculia, his 5th grade Math teacher will have to find the exact problem or use the student’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) to remediate a few years of Math deficit.
As you may realize, the ramifications of addressing a problem with accommodation rather than remediation can create a cycle of unproductive efforts and growing frustration. I have seen many parents who could not accept the idea that their child will be better off in a different school. These parents perceived their conversations with the school as utter humiliation. Unfortunately, there is a bad stigma for specialized schools. Even though these schools are fully equipped and dedicated for remediation, many parents still perceive specialized schools as institutes for troubled kids.
There are instances where accommodation is the best alternative, but in some instances remediation is the best option. Every parent should seek to understand the balance between these two approaches. The possibility of a blend of the two can also be explored.
Accommodation and remediation are thus two critical terms parents ought to know and understand. For students with learning disabilities, it is always better to inquire with the teacher about the difficulties of the student. Try to look for the facts. You would also want to remind yourself that managing your emotions during the meetings with the school’s representative will help you stay focused and ask the right questions. In addition, taking notes on the conversation will help you remember the key points when you follow up with the grade advisor or the school psychologist for further inquiry. Some of your questions should include trying to understand in which classes your child misbehaves or does not meet class expectations. Ask about the learning activities and the work environment. Find out about the activities your child performs rather well. Finally, ask what you can do at home to support the teacher’s endeavors and your child’s learning.
Showing curiosity and empathy with the teachers have proven to be very helpful. You do not have to agree with them, but mutual respect will surely enhance effective communication and progress. Understanding the differences between accommodation and remediation should change the way you encounter your child’s learning endeavors in school and home as well. Maintaining frequent communication with your child’s teachers by asking relevant questions will help you focus your efforts and resources effectively.
I wish you and your children a happy and successful first semester! Please remember that you can contact me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rains that grows flowers, not thunder.
The use of spanking to discipline children has been in decline for 50 years. But yelling? Almost everybody still yells at their kids sometimes, even the parents who know it doesn’t work. Yelling may be the most widespread parental stupidity around today.
Households with regular shouting incidents tend to have children with lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression. A 2014 study in The Journal of Child Development demonstrated that yelling produces results similar to physical punishment in children: increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression along with an increase in behavioral problems.
I use a program called the ABCs, which stands for antecedents, behaviors and consequences. The antecedent is the setup, telling a child, specifically, what you want them to do before you want them to do it. Behaviors are where the behavior is defined and shaped, modeled by the parent. And the consequence involves an expression of approval when that behavior is performed, an over-the top Broadway-style belt-it-to-the-back-row expression of praise with an accompanying physical gesture of approval.
So instead of yelling at your kid every night for the shoes strewn across the floor, ask him in the morning if he can put his shoes away when he comes home. Make sure when you come home that you put your own shoes away. And if your child puts his shoes away, or even puts them closer to where they’re supposed to be, tell him that he did a great job and then hug him.
The ABC method of praise is a highly specific technique. You have to be effusive, so you actually have to put a big dumb smile on your face and even wave your hands in the air. Next thing is you have to say, in a very high, cheerful voice, exactly what you’re praising. And then the third part is you have to touch the child and give him some kind of nonverbal praise. The silliness is a feature, not a bug. It makes the kid notice the praise that accompanies correct behavior. And that’s the point.
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For all the parents, like my wife and I, who are out there living, walking, eating, even laughing sometimes, yet feeling a hole inside.
This is for you.
Losing a child is losing a part of you and yet you are still here. Still breathing, still paying bills, still talking about the weather. Still loving those left.
But never, ever, feeling whole again. How can anything ever replace the little hand you once held?
It cannot be replaced!
But I want to live until I die. I don’t want grief to paralyze me. It has changed me, but I don’t want it to stop me from living a full and joyful life. The death of my son has made me realize how precious life is and how it can be gone in a moment. I want my friends to see how precious their children are. I want those I love to live a full and filled life! I chose life!
If you know someone living this life, be aware that it will never stop hurting. It will never stop grasping the air out of their lungs in the middle of the night.
The grief will never end, it will remain, like a hole.
Love them hard. They deserve it.
Excitable as they are, children can often be seen diving into action or immersing themselves right into things. They’ll interrupt when mom or dad are mid-sentence or run around without checking their surroundings.
It is in part due to childhood innocence; if they have not yet been hurt, how would they know to be cautious?
By and large, impulsiveness is a regular part of childhood and is something that is not necessarily harmless. Unless children throw sharp objects around, hurt themselves or someone around them, there’s no need to be concerned.
Nevertheless, we must remain attentive to our children’s ability to hold on to what they want to say or do. It is a gradual process, not a matter of either you have or not. Impulse control remains an important executive function, one of the many skills that let us plan, focus our attention, and remember instructions. In other words, it is crucial that we allow our children to develop this skill at a pace that is reasonable for their age.
Below, you can find some ways to help your child develop this his/her impulse control:
Teaching by Example
The most basic approach is to lead by example. Kids tend to adopt behaviors not always considering its benefit. Therefore, we should be a good role model and practice the behavior we want our kids to display. To help children visualize this, talk to your children through your thought process. For example, “I would like to watch TV, but I know I have to clean the bedroom first.” Speaking out loud will go a long way in teaching your child to internalize dialogue that helps them manage their impulses.
Give your child fun opportunities to practice delaying gratification. One way to implement this is to reward your child’s good behavior with tokens which they will redeem later for predetermined rewards (preferably non-tangible such as ‘daddy-and-me time’). Let your child also know that there is a more significant reward if he saves enough tokens, like a trip to a theme park or the movies!
Putting A Label on Emotions
Our little angels sometimes jump into action because they don’t know how else to express themselves to us. When we help our children understand their emotions, we help ourselves by reducing the chances of tantrums and teach them to deal with their inconvenience independently. Talk about the differences between feeling and behavior, letting them know that it is okay to feel angry, but that it is not okay to throw things to express that. As always, be sure to lead by example. If they see their parents yelling at each other when they’re angry, they’ll naturally think there’s nothing wrong with doing the same.
Drilling It in With Repetition
Sometimes, our children want to see our faces light up with pride that they’ve done something well. So, when you give them instructions, they nod and get right to it. Instead, ask your child to repeat your directions before they get moving. Make sure to praise them so they’ll feel encouraged to do it again next time!
Keep It Positive
Use games like ‘Simon Says’ and ‘Red Light Green Light’ that give children ample opportunities to practice impulse control. With these games, they’ll learn to wait for instructions, or to stop and think, all while they’re enjoying themselves. You can also have your child practice reading with a partner, taking turns to read each paragraph and letting them practice waiting for their turn.
Consistency Is Key
Our children need us to be consistent, or they might get confused as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Simple things like “Hold my hand and look both ways before crossing the road,” will go a long way if you practice this each time we approach the street. Routines will create less opportunity for chaos, which helps to reduce impulsive behavior.
While helping our children develop impulse control, do remember that it is a learning process and not an overnight change. Praise them to acknowledge good behavior and encourage your children when they make a mistake. Even adults make mistakes at times, so let them know that it is normal to make a once-in-a-while mistake and motivate them to do better next time.
This classic toy is an awesome way to practice the logic and problem-solving skills that are crucial to STEM education. Here’s how to harness the fun.
Toy or Tool?
This puzzle has come a long way since Erno Rubik, a professor of architecture in Hungary, invented it in 1974. Nowadays, Brown says, the Cube can be used as a hands-on way to teach algorithms, which are the foundation of computer programming and mechanics. “Figuring out how to solve problems is the heart of the scientific process,” so tinkering with the Rubik’s Cube fits right in with STEM education goals, Brown says. Learning one algorithm (on YouTube, say) helps kids start to break down solutions into steps, each of which builds on the last. They learn to think critically in general and are able to generate more flexible and effective strategies to solve this, or really any, puzzle.
Patrick Bossert, who wrote a bestselling instruction guide called You Can Do the Cube in 1981—when he was just 13!—agrees. He credits the puzzle for stimulating his love of logical reasoning, central to which are the Cube’s “if…then” formulas. If you twist one side up, for example, then the blue square will be next to the green one. Kids will see these concepts in everything from math homework to business spreadsheets.
Bossert says cubing also helps develop spatial awareness, the ability to see and understand two or more objects in relation to each other and to oneself. Kids must follow instructions for placement that include the concepts of “over,” “under,” and “behind.” This may seem like simple stuff, but being able to visualize and then follow through with a step is actually a complex cognitive skill for kids. Cubing takes this ability to the next level by continuously rearranging the position of the parts—and also continuously testing and expanding kids’ sense of space.
Another benefit of cubing: strengthening pattern recognition, says Feliks Zemdegs, a record-holding speed cuber in Melbourne, Australia. As kids learn to recognize that, say, a white square in the center of one side means that a yellow square is in the center of the opposite one, they’re also learning the building blocks of pattern recognition in music, math, and more. And of course as kids get faster and faster, they push memory and finger dexterity too (hello, future surgeons!).
- RELATED: Get the Mafic’s Cube now!
The Need for Speed
Solving the Cube is one thing. Solving it fast—really fast—is another. In fact, “speed cubing,” as it’s called, has become a competitive sport. The World Cube Association actually holds tournaments where Cube lovers from all over the planet commune and compete. (The current record for fastest solve of the 4×4 cube? Just 21.54 seconds!) “Practice is the most important thing,” says Zemdegs, who actually holds the current world record. “It took me about three months to get my time under 30 seconds, but two years to get it down further by about nine seconds.”
Since his first solve, Nate has been hooked on cubing—trying different patterns, playing with more complex puzzles, and solving them faster and faster (he’s down to 50 seconds for the 3×3 cube!). Our household now boasts no less than 12 different cubes of varying size and style. With this skill squarely in his pocket, I think he may move on to his next hobby: ruling the world, of course.
Yesterday, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday.
For this special occasion, we decided to let her make her own birthday cake. It took more time to make but it was definitely worth the lesson!
Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers and preschoolers — who are by nature self-centered — but one of the most important. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way. Grateful kids look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them — prepare dinner, dole out hugs, buy toys.
By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.
How to Teach Gratitude:
Children model their parents in every way, so make sure you use “please” and “thank you” when you talk to them. (“Thanks for that hug — it made me feel great!”) Insist on their using the words, too.
- Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Try to weave appreciation for mundane things into your everyday talk: “We’re so lucky to have a good cat like Eliott!” “Aren’t the colors in the sunset amazing?” “I’m so happy when you listen!” When you reinforce an idea frequently, it’s more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a “thanking” part of the day. Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation.
- Have kids help. It happens to all of us: You give your child a chore, but it’s too agonizing watching him a) take forever to clear the table or b) make a huge mess mixing the pancake batter. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. (Don’t you feel more empathy for people who work outside on cold days when you’ve just been out shoveling snow yourself?) By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.
- Find a goodwill project. That doesn’t mean you need to drag your toddler off to a soup kitchen every week. Instead, figure out some way he can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it’s as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. “As you’re stirring the batter or adding sprinkles,” talk about how you’re making them for a special person, and how happy the recipient will be.
- Encourage generosity. Instead of throwing things away, donate toys and clothes to less fortunate kids.
- Insist on thank-you notes. Just the act of saying out loud why he loved the gift will make him feel more grateful.
- Practice saying no. Of course, kids ask for toys, video games, and candy — sometimes on an hourly basis. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying no a lot makes saying yes that much sweeter.
- Be patient. You can’t expect gratitude to develop overnight — it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. But trust me, you will be rewarded.