Imagine being able to teach your kids how to go beyond the obligatory “thank you,” to truly appreciate the world around them? No matter your traditions or your faith, the holiday season is the prime opportunity to model and coach your kids in mindful appreciation and gratitude.
Scientific data has shown us that people who are grateful reap the benefits. Gratitude has been shown to lower stress, increase positive emotion, build stronger immune systems and strengthen social relationships. Put simply, grateful kids tend to be happier kids.
What we want to share is a two-part message that we call supercharging the thank you and mindful appreciation. Come holiday time, it’s all about teaching your children to pay attention to the gift, the opportunity or the advantage and learning to share that appreciation with the giver. These are fast-forward building block that helps us to arrive at the doorstep of gratitude much quicker.
Here are some simple ways to incorporate the two-part message when teaching children holiday appreciation.
- The thank you can be supercharged when we ask our children to focus on one or more of the five senses that the gift triggers.
- A way to do this could be ‘The smell of the bubble bath you just gave me smells so yummy and reminds me of whip cream.’
- Mindful appreciation takes it to the next level. It’s all about paying attention to the gift, opportunity, advantage or “good thing” and about sharing that appreciation with the giver.
- A recognition of the effort that the giver went to in researching, obtaining or procuring the gift. You could say‘I know that you would have had to buy this 6 months ago when that artist was in town. I can’t believe you were planning for my gift that long ago!’
- An active noticing of the thought, care, or personalization that the giver put into choosing the gift ‘Oh! You remembered that I’m gluten-free and I love these vanilla cookies from London – I think it’s so sweet that you remembered!’
Simply Speaking …That’s it!
Here’s an example of how this two-pronged approach could play out:
We coach our child to pay attention to what sight or sound they like most about their new Lego set from Grandma; they realize how challenging it must have been for Grandma with her cane and bad hip to get to the mall to get the Lego; and they recognize how she must have shopped early to find the rare collector’s edition Lego set.
It also goes beyond the gift. When your child recognizes Grandma for her care, it will likely also likely deepen your child’s relationship with their grandmother.
The more our kids see us using this two-part message for instilling holiday appreciation, the more naturally they will follow our lead. It will also help them to be more open to ideas when we are coaching and nudging them towards other good habits.
These benefits will decorate your holiday season with children that are inspired to be grateful and kind!
Happy Holidays from Dr. Lisa Ferrari & Dr. Carla Fry, a.k.a. #TheDrFs