Teach Your Children The Value of Showing Appreciation

“Thank you.” Saying it is truly magic. Those two simple words can lift someone’s spirit, foster relationships, instill feelings of belonging, infuse an awareness of appreciation, improve happiness, and strengthen emotional well-being. And the magic happens for BOTH the person showing gratitude and the person on the receiving end.

When you say thank you, you feel good and your perception of gratitude increases. When you hear a sincere thank you, your happiness increases and you are more likely to show gratitude to others. It’s a lovely, warm-fuzzy, positive cycle.

So when you invest the time and make the effort to teach your child the value of appreciation and thankfulness, you will arm them with emotional strength that will improve their quality of life, now and in the future.

Here are my top tips to teach children how to show appreciation.

  1. Be sure “thank you” is said at home

Courtesy begins at home. Make “thank you” a commonly used phrase within the walls of your house. Parents who verbalize appreciation to other adults and the children in the home are setting an example. You can remind your kids to say “thank you” all you want but unless they hear you say “thanks” and see you show appreciation, it won’t matter much. Your child pays much closer attention to your behavior than she does to your advice, so practice what you preach. Say “thank you” often, even for small things.

  1. Prompt your child to say “thank you” if he or she forgets

When you give your child his lunch, sippy cup, toy, or anything, pleasantly remind him to say “thank you Mommy” if he doesn’t remember himself. It takes a bit of dedication on your part (and sometimes for a while) but the end result is that the consistent reminders will eventually plant in his brain and he will say “thank you” himself without the prompting.

  1. Recognize everyday courtesies

Most people make an effort to express their thanks for gifts, favors, awards and such but it is important to show appreciation for the everyday courtesies. Help your children recognize when someone does something nice for them, like share a snack or to allow them to pass in a room. If you are with your child, you should say thank you first and encourage your little one to say the same. Speak openly about seeing the kind actions of others. Soon your little darling will notice the civility in others on her own and show appreciation for it.

  1. Practice random acts of kindness

You don’t have to have a reason to do something nice for someone, like share some tea, send a nice text, or make dinner. But sometimes an event like a holiday, birthday, end of the school year, or International Siblings Day can give us a little motivation. My daughter loves to bake and so we are in the kitchen often, which mean we often have a little something sweet around the house. We have made it a habit to always make enough to share with someone outside of our house: a neighbor, a classmate, a teacher, a coach or friend. My little lady takes such joy in sharing and delivering the treat. But I think my joy in watching her is greater.

  1. Write thank you notes

While a thank you message sent via email or text is great, nothing shows you really care like a handwritten note. Even if your child is too young to write, a little scribble still counts. You can fill in a simple “Thank you for helping me/for the birthday gift/for being my teacher/for thinking of me” message if necessary. If you encourage this nicety early, your child will have it as part of his civility arsenal throughout life. And the art of the thank you note always draws a positive reaction and will always benefit your child now matter how old he is.

As a licensed etiquette trainer one of my favorite things to do is host children’s manner’s training sessions. Ask me about it at +1-868-757-1017 or laura@pearl-strategies.com

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THIS ALSO WAS PUBLISHED IN THE JULY 2017 CARE MAGAZINE DISTRIBUTED WITH TRINIDAD & TOBAGO GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER.

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The Unspoken Mom Dress Code

As I navigate through the adventures of motherhood sometimes I find myself wishing I could relive some highlights of my youth: my body (oh how I wish I had my 20-something body back), relaxing weekends (there are no days off for parents), an uninterrupted meal (family dinners are lovely but I’m always the last to finish), and my wardrobe. Recently I pulled on a pair of my old shorts and … well … fellow mothers … there are just some things we should not wear anymore. Here’s my list of top Mom Dress Code do’s and don’ts.

Do cover your tail.
Strutting through the grocery with kids in tow and your bumsie hanging out doesn’t reflect a confident, composed woman … rather it reveals more of you than what others want to see. If you have to keep pulling down your shorts or skirts, they are not the right fit. Shorts and skirts should cover your bits at the top AND the bottom.

Do not let clothes cling on you more than you child already does.
Clothing that clings to your EVERY curve, bump, and lump means it SHOWS every one of them – even the unpleasant ones. Instead wear pieces that skim only certain curves. If you wear a form-fitting top, pair it with something flowy on the bottom. If you wear something form-fitting on the bottom, pair it with a loose top. On the flip side, don’t go for tent-like shape-less clothes. Bigger clothes create a bigger visual so a little body skimming is flattering.

Do avoid peek-a-boo clothing.
While the game of peek-a-boo may be part of your everyday mom life, peek-a-boo with your clothes should not be. See-through shirts exposing your bra (or lack thereof) are just wrong and so are belly-baring tops. And, sure, it may be handy for breastfeeding, but low-cut tops and overly exposed cleavage as part of your normal attire isn’t appropriate.

Do not let your clothes say what they will about you.
As tempting as that funny “More Issues Than Vogue” t-shirt is, think twice before putting on shirts with childish statements for your school parent-teacher meeting. And please SAY NO to butt messages. Pants with anything printed on the seat are neither attractive nor appropriate for mothers. It doesn’t matter how comfy those Pink sweats are.

Do ask yourself “Can I chase my child in it?”
I love myself a gorgeous part of stilettos but I save them for a girls’ night out and instead pull on wedges or ballet flats for family activities. Also, as easy as it is to reach for the easy flip-flop slippers, trade them for low-heel sandals or trendy Converses for a more put-together look.

Do not wear vanity and other people’s judgments.
You’re a mom. You’re gonna have the occasional spit-up spot, pencil mark, lap-child wrinkles and messy-mouth smear. While you should try to stay neat and tidy, wear the imperfections with pride! There are some days when you will feel like you have it all together and there will be days when you won’t. Accept it and love yourself anyway.

Do remember who you are.
Lead by example. Remember as a mother you should be an example for your children and their friends. If you don’t want your daughter running around in a barely-there dress kept together by a string, then don’t wear it yourself. Even if you look and feel amazing in that teeny-tiny number, maybe just keep it for the bedroom.

No. 1 Take Away: If people focus on what you’re wearing more than they focus on you, you are wearing the wrong clothes. Always consider where you’ll be and who you’ll be with and make your clothing choices accordingly.

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This also was published in June 2017 CARE Magazine distributed with Trinidad & Tobago Guardian newspaper. 

Giving thanks for family

The older I get the more I realize how amazing my parents were. How did they manage eight children? My sanity limit is tested with my two kids. Thank you, Mother and Daddy, for teaching us that people are good unless proven differently. Thank you for instilling in me the confidence that can only be had when you know that you have unconditional support and love. Thank you for teaching me about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Thank you for teaching me faith, hope, stick-to-it-ness, optimism and the value of hard work. I love you and am thankful for you on this day and every day.

From the Archives: Kiss me, Laura! Kiss me!

I stumbled across this story in my files today and laughed at the memory. This happened in my frequent flier days several years ago and I still remember what that guy looked like. Enjoy!

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I turned around to catch a quick glance at the man who was making all the ruckus down the aircraft aisle. At first I thought he was speaking a foreign language but then realized that he was speaking the rapid-fire Irish dialect. He settled in the aisle seat directly across from me. Noticing my curious glance he looked directly at me and began a conversation.

“What’s your name, bonny?”

I smiled. “Laura.”

He continued his questions in a voice more appropriate for a noisy, crowded Irish pub than for the quiet cabin of the Boeing 767. Filled with weary travelers on a Friday evening, the aircraft was as quiet as a nursery at naptime and the Irishman’s voice was as out of place as an ambulance siren. I attempted to answer quietly so he would follow suit … ahhh … the attempts were all in vain.

As the aircraft rumbled down the runway for takeoff, the Irishman snatched my hand from across the aisle and yelled, “Hold my hand, Laura! Hold my hand! I’m scared! Kiss me! Kiss me, Laura!”

My arm stretched across the aisle as he enclosed my hand in both of his close and held it to his chest.

Oh my goodness! What … ummm … oh … my face is burning so I am sure I am as red as a cherry! Oh! How embarrassing. Please! Not so loud! How do I get out of this?

It seemed the heads of every single person in the cabin turned to our direction. Even the flight attendant leaned forward in her jumpseat to see what the fuss was all about. I tried to don a casual face as if having my name shouted in a silent aircraft and my arm pulled out of socket was something I experienced every day.

The aircraft lifted off and his yelling quieted down. I managed to pull my hand from his grasp and I patted his hands.

“Oh … you’re just fine.”

“I was scared, Laura. I needed you.”

I smiled. I tried to turn back to my book. He took no hint and continued his conversation and questions. In his same louder-than-comfortable tenor, he barked out questions about every taboo topic – religion, politics and sex. For 55 minutes we continued this game – he barking questions and I demurely answering in a soft tone. All the while, neighboring passengers stole curious glances, shot irritating looks and occasionally provided sympathetic expressions my way.

As we deplaned, the Irishman gave me his business card – [Name withheld for privacy] Family Butchers. I still have that card to this day. No … I never called and never will but it’s a good memento of a funny story.

A Father’s Day Thank You to My Dad

My Dad is one of the greatest men I know.  As I’ve gotten older, gotten married and raising children, I realize even more how great he is.

Thank you, Daddy for …

Teaching me the right things to do. Showing me that a righteous life is a good life. Trusting me. Letting me try, fail, get back up, try again, and succeed. Scrimping funds (without me even knowing how much) to send me to college. Being a wonderful example of hard work (and that hard work will always pay off in the end). Showing us in our youth that no one is any better than any one else and that we should be friends with everyone. Proving that a smile and friendly banter can get you far in life. Sacrificing a lot to provide for your family. Showing me that service in the church is a privilege. Displaying the value of prayer. Loving our mother so much. Telling all your silly jokes. Making us do chores growing up. Giving us the “I’m not raising cows, I’m raising children” experience. Not giving me everything I said I wanted as a child because it made me appreciate what I had and learn the value of earning something. Honoring your priesthood. Thank you for the daddy-daughter interviews. Introducing me to Yoohoo on our daddy-daughter motorcycle rides in Carrollton, Ga. Being a good Papa. Showing us the importance of a thirst for knowledge. Thinking I’m a good baker. Being so stinkin’ fun.
I could go on and on. I love him than a hound dog loves a sunny porch.
(I can only hope that I raise my kids in a way that they will want to write a note like this to me one day.)