Monday, November 11, 2013

End of Week One (Operation: T.H.A.N.K.S.)

Teach Him (or her) Appreciation 'N' Kindness Specifically
Clever, right? Heehee
(If you're a weirdo and haven't already read my previous post, check it out now, so you'll know what I'm talking about. Mostly because I'm too lazy to recap.)
Week one of my little experiment went very well. Shockingly well, in fact. Gavin didn't have a single meltdown over the temporary loss of his toys. He did try to bribe me at one point, but I'm actually a little proud of that. Heh heh
 "I'll put up all of Rhett's toys for you, if you let me have some of mine back."

When I first sat him down and informed him of the plan, I wanted to make sure he understood the point of it, and I've reiterated that point every single day since. He's almost five, and he's very smart, but the kid still puts his underwear on backwards; it's necessary to repeat myself a lot.
It was very important to me that he knew he wasn't in trouble. This was not a punishment but an opportunity to learn an essential life lesson. 

It wasn't as easy as I anticipated it would be to explain the concept. You try defining something intangible to a preschooler! Not only did I have a limited time to work with before I would completely lose his attention, I had to explain it using words he was already very familiar with. After all, I didn't want him to merely recite back to me whatever I told him; I wanted him to get it.

What I ultimately came up with is that being thankful means you are happier with the things you already have than you are sad about the things you don't have. It's perfectly fine and understandable to want more, but it's not a good attitude to spend more time and energy pining away for things you don't have than you do being appreciative of what you already have. (Obviously, this goes for intangible things as well, but I figured this was a good first step... because it's actually visible.)
*If anyone has any other suggestions about how to help explain it, seriously let me know.
So, Gavin survived with having only three toys for a week. He learned a little about thankfulness, and he was forced to use his imagination even more than he normally does. For real - along the way I found him playing actively with a string, a scrap piece of fabric, and a Christmas ornament. 
And BONUS, he said he actually kind of liked it because it was "way easier" and faster to clean his room each night before bedtime. This, of course, didn't keep him from ripping the lid off of the toy box this morning, though!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Operation: T.H.A.N.K.S.

Teach Him (or her) Appreciation 'N' Kindness Specifically
Clever, right? Heehee

I'm a lucky lady. Not only are my boys beautiful, they're genuinely good. Yes, I know I'm partial. Duh. But seriously, they both naturally have sweet dispositions. They're amusing and observant and adorable. Having said that, they're certainly not perfect. They have a lot to learn. That's my job - not to make them perfect, of course, but to cultivate them to be the best versions of themselves.

My current mission is to simply and specifically teach my four-year-old gratitude. It's not an easy task, by the way. Don't get me wrong. Gavin has always been a sensitive and relatively thoughtful kid. He doesn't like to see others cry, and he's not the type to exclude anyone on the playground. What I've been struggling to teach him is to be appreciative of what he has, instead of just constantly wanting more, more, more.

This is tricky, because I don't want him to go without. I'm happy that we're in the position to provide all that he needs, and I enjoy giving him material things along with my affection and time. Plus, the desire to achieve more, more, more can be a fantastic tool to drive him to success in his adult life. (And realistically, can we ever expect a child to not want every toy he sees in the store?)

Soooo how do you instruct a child to be grateful for all that he has without putting him in the position of someone who has not? I'm not sure that you can. Many people opt to take their children to volunteer at soup kitchens around the holidays. This is a wonderful thing to do, in my opinion. However, I'm not sure that it is all that effective... at least not in the long term. Your kid may see someone who is enduring poverty, but that's not the same as experiencing lack.

Now, am I going to make little boy go hungry to prove a point? Hell no.

I am going to temporarily take some things away from him, though. Not because I wish him to think it's wrong to have and/or want things, but because I want him to understand the difference in needs and wants, and I desire for him to recognize he's fortunate to possess both.

So here's my gameplan:
Week 1: Put away all but three of his toys
Week 2: No more than an hour of TV a day
Week 3: No unhealthy treats (i.e. icecream, candy, etc)

Some may argue that these elements are already in effect in their households. Wellllll, gooood for them. My well-behaved, water-drinking, vitamin-taking, vegetable-eating, active, educated kid indulges in sweet treats and probably too much T.V. Also, I know this plan is similar to Lent in some ways. Lent is not something we have ever practiced, but I grasp the concept and potential benefits.

This plan of mine may give him an epiphany that will positively change the rest of his life. Then again, it may totally backfire and do nothing but make both of us miserable.

Either way, I'd like to stress that I chose the words for my little acrostic carefully, not simply out of convenience. (Quite honestly, I generally detest acrostics... because, well, they're usually lame.) I think being more appreciative of your own life makes you more likely to be generous and kind to others.

And, ya gotta admit that this is the perfect time of year to try this. Yeah, yeah, the origin of Thanksgiving sucks. In this instance, I'm a believer that it's what you make something into and not what something  started out as that counts (same goes for soccer and Halloween, etc). I don't celebrate the fact that dumb white people brutally took advantage of Native Americans. I do, however, take the time to see extended family and profess sincere gratitude for all the things I'm lucky to have, including good food!

Besides, we all know that Thanksgiving is really just foreplay for Christmas... ;)

Funny Mothers Day Card: Thanks Mom, I Turned Out Awesome