As another school year comes to a close parents everywhere are left scrambling with ideas on what to do with their children for the summer.
Summer camps are commonplace and have become a leading choice amongst parents for getting the children out of the house and active. According to acacamps.org, summer camps are a $18 billion industry!
Additionally, summer is a great time for creating structure with daily chores and reading. But, if you are a seasoned parent like me, you may have concluded there is that special something missing from your child’s personal development over the summer. That special something is appreciation and gratitude.
The rush of the school year and schedules can make it easy for one to forget to say thank you for the small things in life. We are all guilty of this – not just our children.
Summer to children (and parents) represent one thing: FREEDOM! A stray from structure and a welcome to long summer nights. Children get their
way a little more often than they did during the school year and parents just might be able to get up in the morning a little bit later. Not saying that children don’t deserve a little freedom. We all do! It is healthy and perfectly okay to want to yearn for change in a different direction than what you are used to.
However, none of us are perfect. I began to notice with my own kids as the summer progressed a certain attitude tends to develop the deeper into summer we journey: THANKLESSNESS and ENTITLEMENT.
Upon the onset of summer, some familiar sayings my husband and I start to hear around the house from the kids:
“Can’t we go out for ice-cream during the week” (it’s summer)
“We should go get that new swim suit” (It’s summer)
“We should splurge on all the vendors and restaurants we want when on vacation (It’s summer)
Asking over and over and over again soon turns into entitlement. We can all say thanks to that summertime freedom that we might be feeling (yes, parents are included in that too).
To help balance the transition of my enthusiastic summertime clan, my husband and I came up with a simple summertime gratitude activity for our family. Here are some simple examples that you can make into your own. Be Creative! No matter the variation you and your family decide, the goal is incorporating more GRATITUDE and less ATTITUDE into your summer.
#1 Each day do something for someone other than yourself. Example: Each child must approach a sibling, friend, parent, relative and help with anything. Or, simply do something for someone else without asking. For the younger kids we help guide them until it becomes a habit. My older children kept on task by texting me what they did. Eventually this will become habit and following up will become easier for everyone.
#2 Every night before bed or at the dinner table everyone must verbally say something they were thankful for in their day. Example: This is similar to incorporating prayer and can even be prayer at the dinner table. Instead of one person leading everyone becomes inclusive by going around the table one by one expressing the gratitude of their day.
#3 Write down a minimum of one thing positive they expect for the future and place it in a jar. Example: I will get along all day with my sister. This activity will encourage your child to want to act upon that challenge the next day. Thus, creating the positive result they wanted to happen.
#4 At the end of the week read the expectations that were put into the jar to see which may have came true that week (helps invite The Power of Positive Thinking)
To take it one step further, speaking and living in appreciation daily to where it becomes a habit (that would last way past summer) is the ultimate goal.
Most things that we do past 20 days or more become a habit. This activity has not only proven to work great for my family, but also has changed their mindset and ours for the better overall.
Blessings to you and your family! I would love to read what positive outcomes you have had incorporating your gratitude exercises into your daily schedule.