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.

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. 

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.)

I HAD to Share: Every Night I Hit “The Parenting Wall”

.Every Night, I Hit “The Parenting Wall”

Facebo

http://www.babble.com/parenting/every-night-i-hit-the-parenting-wall

Every evening, some time after dinner, I start to feel my mental grip loosening a bit. A wave of exhaustion laps up to the shores of my patience. It’s been a long day, you know. Same as yesterday, probably the same as tomorrow.

This is “the parenting wall.” And every night, I hit it.

Somewhere between getting woken up at the crack of friggin’ dawn and my kids’ 8:00 bedtime, my enthusiasm fades.

The day begins with me Tasmanian Deviling around my house, getting my kids ready for the day.

I’ve worked some gritty, draining jobs in my life. But just for getting kids ready in the morning, we all deserve medals of efficiency and valor, us parents. We just do.

Parents work, whether it’s at some desk job or carting around kids all day, the fact of the matter is that most of us are breaking our asses all day long.

I survive it all by trying to imagine some pin dot of promise at the end of the tunnel. A half hour where I will sit on the sofa and watch TV before I collapse. And sometimes I stick a cold beer into my fantasy scenario too. Just because.

But most of the time, I hit the parenting wall long before I get there, I’m afraid.

Come about 6:30 pm, I’ll be trying to psyche myself up for the final stretch, preparing Charlie for bed and all, when I’ll hear those older two fighting about some ridiculously inane thing.

I remind myself to breath, but dude. I’m spent. I just am. I don’t care if you want to judge me, but I’m like this close to walking out the back screen door and getting in then Honda and aiming it towards Mexico, towards a whole different life.

This is every night, remember.

The parenting wall.

My love for my children, once a warm and bubbling spring at 8 am, has now congealed into a hard layer of sick-of-it-all and despair.

I want to be saved from this feeling of my face being smooshed up against the wall.

I can’t take anymore!

I’m tired! I’m hungry! I’m dehydrated! I’m lonely! I need to pay the bills! I need to get the laundry out of the washer before everything is just a wrinkled waste of my precious time!

Oh my God, NOOOOO!

Charlie just crapped his diaper and is crying because I’m footballing him around in his own filth and surprise! Here comes Violet and she has ice cream all over her hands and she is carrying my laptop and making it all sticky and surprise! She’s bawling because Henry just pinched her in revenge!

I close my eyes. I try to breath slowly. I take a big country whiff of the kid poop and I try and be Zen about it all. I imagine my fantasy scenario, tell myself I’m almost there.

Sometimes it works and I get there without losing it and I feel so proud.

Other nights, I’m almost there when I come across two kids kicking each other as they put on their PJ’s in the middle of a whole roll of toilet paper unraveled all over the room and I let go completely. I fall away from the Zen and I become a bear, a lion, an elephant with a Philly accent.

Some nights, I yell.

I do what I have to do.

But we get there, eventually. We get sorted out and tired heads end up sleeping safe and sound under the roof of this nuthouse we call home. That makes me happy. And proud. It really really does. I did it. We made it.

I’m so hungry.

Please stay asleep for the next 40 minutes. I need it, my loves. I need my TV time. I really really do.

The parenting wall, man.

It’s a b*tch.

But I guess I wouldn’t change a thing.