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Appreciate your way to joyful parenting

If you want to keep the “thanks”-giving going and attract better behavior from your kids (and everyone around you), keep the practice of appreciation going.

When we actively appreciate people, they feel closer to us and better about themselves. Appreciating can bring you more peace, joy, and connection, too. In fact, appreciating is one of the most effective parenting practices. In the words of author Sarah Ban Breathnach, “Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos.” People cannot help but feel closer to us when we genuinely and frequently appreciate them.”

The Art of Appreciation



When we make appreciation a way of life, we:

– bring out the best in others: What we focus on grows. When we consciously focus on someone’s positive qualities, we help draw out more of that.



– raise appreciative children: When parents complain about their unappreciative children, I ask, “Do you model appreciation?” Invariably, parents flash a smile of recognition. It’s easy to forget Gandhi’s advice to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” yet that is exactly what it takes to effect change. Be the change you wish to see in your home.

– improve our health: According to a report published in “Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science” (1998), researchers at the Institute of HeartMath of Boulder Creek, Calif., devoted to studying the heart asked 30 people to focus on feelings of love and appreciation whenever they began to feel angry or frustrated. After a month, the researchers measured the participants’ levels of DHEA, the anti-aging hormone, and found it had increased 100 percent, while levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, had decreased 20 percent.

Words of appreciation are wonderful indeed. Written words of appreciation have the added bonus of being experienced long after the spoken word. Write an appreciative note and slip it into your child’s lunchbox. Send an e-mail into the inner sanctum of your teen. I heard of one mother who routinely wrote thank-you notes to her children and that became second nature to them as well.

You’ll bump up the level of peace at home by appreciating your child not just after, but also before he performs a desired action … not just what she does, but also who she is. When you encounter even a tiny shred of what you want to see, express your appreciation. It’s like fanning a flame. Children tend to rise to our view of them. Appreciating magnifies. If you want to raise a child to be helpful, search out times when she shows the smallest inclination toward helpfulness and show your appreciation.

When you become upset with your child, insert a sentence of appreciation before dealing with the upset. If your family room has been transformed into a very messy arts and crafts center, appreciate your child’s creativity (first to yourself, then to your child) before dealing with the mess.

What we focus on grows. When we appreciate, we notice what we have. By focusing on what we have, we attract more of that into our life. So appreciate often and genuinely and enjoy the good feeling of this season all year long.

Vickie Falcone, YouthZone’s director of planning, is the author of the book “Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn’t Drive Carpool: Seven Principles for Parenting With Soul.”


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