10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid

By Homa Tavangar

When my favorite uncle first met my daughter, then age three, he enthusiastically hugged her and gave her a toy he’d brought all the way from Uganda. My daughter wouldn’t even hold it, let alone say “Thank you.” I was mortified.

My daughter is now 17, and looking back, I realize that many factors could have contributed to her behavior: being unprepared for such exuberance, her natural shyness and biology. Kids under seven have difficulty understanding others’ feelings and being internally motivated to do the right thing. Nonetheless, parents can actively, gently instill a sense of gratitude.

The matter goes way beyond etiquette. According to research by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, “people who practice gratitude feel considerably happier (25%) than those in a control group; they are more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, and determined.”

An attitude of gratitude helps us thrive. Try these steps to instill a mind-set of gratitude in your little ones.

  1. Say “Thank you.” When “thank yous” are instilled in our vocabulary at home, a lifelong practice begins, even if it doesn’t stick at first. You can gently restate a sentence with polite language inserted, or suggest saying “Thank you” together.
  2. Live it. Set an example and show appreciation by conveying you paid attention to real effort: “Your room looks so nice with the toys in their bins. I’m so happy that you remembered to put them away!”
  3. Teach through role play. If your little one is too shy to say “thank you” in a social setting, they can pretend to teach their stuffed animals or dolls to do so, while you play along.
  4. Create daily or weekly routines. A regular question, “What are you most thankful for today?” can serve as a comforting routine at bedtime or a highlight of a weekly dinner ritual.
  5. Give concrete examples. At dinner, you can play the Rose and Thorn game, where the person whose turn it is to speak holds a rose and tells about one rose (a good thing) and one thorn (a challenging thing). A metaphor like the rose helps children develop gratitude even when things aren’t going their way. Keeping the rose in a vase all week serves as another reminder of coping with natural ups and downs. Books like The Giving Tree, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and Mama Panya’s Pancakes offer simple, powerful metaphors of virtues.
  6. Set expectations when shopping. Melanie Etemad of Bryn Mawr, PA shared a useful approach that her husband, a psychiatrist, came up with when their daughter Elyse was just two: “We’d say today is a ‘look’ day. Just like going to the museum, we enjoy the beautiful things, but we aren’t planning to buy anything. … We also tried to ensure that there were more ‘look’ days than ‘buy’ days, specifically to inoculate against the idea of always buying things, knowing that it breeds discontent. Now, at age six, Elyse knows that most of the time when we go out, we are not necessarily planning to buy anything and has the habit to ask if today is a ‘look’ day or a ‘buy’ day.”
  7. Make giving and volunteering a habit. Set aside toys and clothing in good condition. Deliver the items to a deserving cause together. Talk about the process and why you care. Tap into organizations like Global Giving that offer a virtual marketplace for making a difference.
  8. Create gratitude gift lists. Alongside a holiday or birthday gift wish list, for every item, family members can list something they are grateful for. These are the “priceless” gifts. By generating the list in a beautiful way, you demonstrate how valuable the alternate list is; it can be a keepsake for years to come.
  9. Thank those who serve. Your example of acknowledging those who quietly make a difference in your life, from the bus driver to the person sweeping up the aftermath of a family lunch out, sends a powerful message to your children. Likewise, organizations like Operation Gratitude and Blue Star Families remember those serving in the military. Kathy Roth-Douquet, Founder and Chair of Blue Star Families, says, “In addition to a thank-you letter, we ask the participant to pledge to do some form of community service … thanks and appreciation is best when it involves action, and a sense of all being in a worthwhile effort together.”
  10. Be patient. Kids can’t be cajoled into showing appreciation, but your gentle efforts and examples will instill gratitude as a way of life.

 

 

For original article please visit: http://www.pbs.org/parents/special/article-ten-ways-raise-grateful-kid.html

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The Word Gap

Article taken from http://www.zerotothree.org

The “Word Gap” has come to symbolize the gulf that can separate very young children who have rich opportunities for positive early learning experiences from those who do not. Science reveals that early language and literacy skills are important predictors of later success in school—and that as a group, children in families of lower socioeconomic means have fewer skills and know far fewer words than their more privileged peers.

How does our country close the word gap? Babies are driven to communicate to let the trusted adults in their lives know what they need, think, and feel. Developing language and literacy skills is about more than just hearing and learning words. It is about the social, back-and-forth communication that takes place through everyday interactions with parents, families, and caregivers which builds not only babies’ language skills, but also their thinking skills and their self-esteem. Strong language skills result from babies building close, nurturing relationships with trusted adults, which encourage babies to want to keep connecting and communicating.

The Mom and Dad Project has several classes surrounding foundations of developing early literacy and strong language skills. Please see our calendar or call (909) 878-2326 for more information!

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7 Things a Great Dad Knows

Posted by Ryan Sanders at http://www.fatherhood.org

We’re already midway through January; if you’re like us, you’re in disbelief! However, we’re still committed to helping you be the best dad you can be in 2013! After our first post for “New Year, New Dad!;” hopefully you’ve had time to reflect on your goals and are ready to tackle the year. In hopes of making sure your goals are in check and you’ve considered everything you need to for your family, use the seven questions below to help you assess the needs of your family and be sure you’re setting the right goals for the coming year.
Here are seven questions that great dads ask themselves:

1. A Great Dad Knows the Importance of Improving His Family.
Take the time to write down three things and post them in an area where they can be easily referenced. These things can be areas of weakness or things that you simply want to do more. These areas of improvement need not be statements; simply write one word to help you keep the ideas in mind this year.

2. A Great Dad Knows the Importance of Communicating with His Spouse/Ex-Spouse.
This will be much easier if your living with your child’s mother. But admittedly, it’s often easy to not communicate with your child’s mother regardless of where she resides! Be intentional about asking your spouse what she thinks of your goals and work together to agree about those goals. Single dads: the idea here is to work toward being on the same page as your ex-spouse with where you want to take the family regarding goals.

3. A Great Dad Knows What His Child Needs.
If you’re a new dad, or the father of a teenager, you may find your children have different needs. Assess what those needs are by age. If we make goals at all, we tend to focus on ourselves. Be sure you are considering where your children are in developement when creating goals and making plans. For instance, you will find your travel plans change drastically depending on the age of your children.

4. A Great Dad Knows His Child’s Favorite Experiences.
Ask your children what their favorite memory was for 2012 and begin brainstorming other similar activities you can do this year. Work to create a time, perhaps over dinner, to let the kids not only talk about their favorite memories but come up with a list of things they would enjoy doing this year.

5. A Great Dad Knows His Schedule.
A schedule is beneficial for children and parents. Consider stopping unnecessary routines and starting better ones. This may be one of the most difficult steps in the process. The point here is to reflect on your daily or weekly routine and see where changes could be made.

6. A Great Dad Knows His Family’s Schedule.
With school, dance, theater, and/or sports in full effect, check in with your family on how they are handling things. As a leader in the home, create appointments with yourself on your calendar to remind you about checking in periodically. It’s too easy to get too busy and often consider EVERYTHING as IMPORTANT when in reality, not everything is important. Depending on your assessment, consider cutting back on activities as a family.

7. A Great Dad Makes Time for His Family.
Schedule time each day to be intentional about being face to face with your spouse. Additionally, be intentional about being face to face with your kids daily. Of course this isn’t easy. Strive to be creative and caring this year. If you can change daily routines with family priorities in mind, you’ll notice a difference in your marriage and/or relationships with your kids.

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Things we should know about toddlers

Developmental Milestones

Skills such as taking turns, playing make believe, and kicking a ball, are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like jumping, running, or balancing).

Because of children’s growing desire to be independent, this stage is often called the “terrible twos.” However, this can be an exciting time for parents and toddlers. Toddlers will experience huge thinking, learning, social, and emotional changes that will help them to explore their new world, and make sense of it. During this stage, toddlers should be able to follow two- or three-step directions, sort objects by shape and color, imitate the actions of adults and playmates, and express a wide range of emotions.

Positive Parenting Tips

Following are some of the things you, as a parent, can do to help your toddler during this time:

Positive Parenting Tip Sheet

  • Set up a special time to read books with your toddler.
  • Encourage your child to take part in pretend play.
  • Play parade or follow the leader with your toddler.
  • Help your child to explore things around her by taking her on a walk or wagon ride.
  • Encourage your child to tell you his name and age.
  • Teach your child simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or other cultural childhood rhymes.
  • Give your child attention and praise when she follows instructions and shows positive behavior and limit attention for defiant behavior like tantrums. Teach your child acceptable ways to show that she’s upset
  • Child Safety First

    Because your child is moving around more, he will come across more dangers as well. Dangerous situations can happen quickly, so keep a close eye on your child. Here are a few tips to help keep your growing toddler safe:

    • Do NOT leave your toddler near or around water (for example, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without someone watching her. Fence off backyard pools. Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among this age group.
    • Encourage your toddler to sit when eating and to chew his food thoroughly to prevent choking.
    • Check toys often for loose or broken parts.
    • Encourage your toddler not to put pencils or crayons in her mouth when coloring or drawing.
    • Do NOT hold hot drinks while your child is sitting on your lap. Sudden movements can cause a spill and might result in your child’s being burned.
    • Make sure that your child sits in the back seat and is buckled up properly in a car seat with a harness.

    Healthy Bodies

    • Talk with staff at your child care provider to see if they serve healthier foods and drinks, and if they limit television and other screen time.
    • Your toddler might change what food she likes from day to day. It’s normal behavior, and it’s best not to make an issue of it. Encourage her to try new foods by offering her small bites to taste.
    • Keep television sets out of your child’s bedroom. Limit screen time, including video and electronic games, to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day.
    • Encourage free play as much as possible. It helps your toddler stay active and strong and helps him develop motor skills.
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