My daughter has a big, powerful voice.
My other daughter likes to do things better than everyone else.
These are personality quirks that are often the source of conversations around our house. Conversations about trying harder to not upset others.
Once I realized that these “issues” we were constantly addressing were really just interesting ways my child is being human, I was able to relax a little and find genuine gratitude for who they are as they are right now rather than continuously wishing they would change.
If we want grateful kids, we have to be grateful ourselves and stop wanting for things we don’t need.
But beyond things there’s another set of gratitude muscles parents need to build.
The ones when we stop trying to change our children. The ones when we stop trying to force them to grow up too quickly. The ones when we put unnecessary pressures on them.
The ones when we stop wishing for them to be someone they are not.
That’s right, I just said be grateful for your child and all of his or her quirks. Take pride in those very things that drive you insane, make your cry and have you falling into bed feeling as if you’ve just been through battle are exactly the things you should be appreciating.
Because that is your child you’re talking about.
Here are three ways to practice gratitude by keeping your child’s quirks in mind:
1. Be thankful they are happy and healthy enough to explore and test limits. When your child can climb, explore and make messes, be thankful and appreciative of that mess you get to help clean up. Their strength and motivation to ask questions are positives in a child.
2. Be thankful for their personality. No one else has that exact same personality and upbringing. They are their most unique self — even now as they are growing and evolving. Understanding that their personality is theirs forever and ever is the first step to appreciating who they are now and not wishing to change something that will likely never change.
3. Be thankful for the hard moments. They are the ones teaching your child — and you — how to cope in life. Learning how to express differences, get our way and make amends are really valuable teachable moments. It’s time we start appreciating them rather than wishing them away.