As parents, learning how to practice gratitude and developing family practices around being grateful is important. But, there is an area where gratitude is always missed — with our children.
Practicing gratitude with our children and teaching them how to be grateful is incredibly helpful for them and for us. But, practicing gratitude for our children is just as important of an aspect when it comes to parenting.
Often, by the time parents have reached out to me for support, either for themselves or for their children, they have become quite overwhelmed, frustrated, and sometimes even kind of fed up with their kids.
Similar to couples’ therapy — where couples often call when it seems to be “too late” for their marriage — parents call when they feel there is nowhere else to turn for their child or teen to get help.
Then, they call with a huge list of things that they would like their child to work on.
They need to eat better, show better behavior, clean up after themselves, do their homework, be respectful, work on their social relationships, work on their family relationships, play video games less, play outside more — and the lists go on and on sometimes.
While this is a totally relatable and understandable situation to find yourself in, we do not necessarily talk about how to shift the dynamic that can happen in a family when it seems that parents are focused more on what their child needs to work on and less on who they are and how great they are already.
Practicing gratitude for our children and who they are in an active way each day can certainly help shift that attitude and somewhat negative dynamic.
I encourage any parent who is feeling frustrated with their child or teen to consider trying this simple trick out to change the narrative you are telling yourself about your child.
Set aside 10 minutes a day to make a list of 10 different things about your child you are grateful for.
Try this out for 21 days and see if it shifts your perspective or even your relationship with your child. It would be even better if you keep going after the 21 days. Then, share your list with your child or teen!
A struggling child knows they are struggling and difficult to be around, even if they won’t admit it to their families.
The more parents focus on the challenges a child is having, the more the child feels like the “problem” child.
Expressing and showing gratitude for the things they do well, but also who they are as a person, helps to teach them that they have worth outside of their accomplishments and that they are more than their areas of difficulty.
This is valuable beyond measure in our world so focused on what we do and accomplish!
Erica Wollerman is a licensed clinical psychologist who has held a passion for helping people since beginning her career in psychology in 2006. If you would like to read more about her work, check out Thrive Therapy Studio.
This article was originally published at Thrive Therapy Studio. Reprinted with permission from the author.