We all want our children to be able to appreciate others. While that sounds great in theory, sometimes it can be easier for them to appreciate other people or things more than they can appreciate their own family. As a family we work on #ProjectJoy once a month. It’s really taught the kids to think of others and that a Random Acts of Kindness can change the dynamic of someone else’s day.
When it comes to our kids appreciating each other, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Shortly after a break from school is over, our kids need a big reconnection. To put it nicely (or not so nicely), they’re kind of sick of each other. Because of this, every winter we do a spin on our compliment circles and write each other appreciations.
What this looks like:
Each child in our house receives these adorable felt heart pockets from the dollar spot at Target. They have an elastic toggle that is supposed to go around the button but we use it to hang the hearts on the outside of their bedroom doors. Each of their doors has a 3M wire hook on it. The elastic gets hung from the hook and the heart stays on their door.
Whenever the girls feel like it, they write each other a message on a small piece of paper and tuck it into the pocket. The only rule is that the message must be positive. That’s not to say they can’t discuss issues that are bothering them, but this isn’t the time to do that. These appreciations are meant to give them an ego boost. It also helps them see the good that their sibling sees in them.
Every Sunday we hold a family meeting and the girls bring their hearts with them. Once we’ve discussed our other topics, the girls take turns reading their notes. You can let each child reach their entire pocket at once or you can have each child read one at a time as they take turns. Regardless, make sure that each child is listening when someone else is reading their appreciation. The best part of this activity is the pride they feel when they read the positive comment about themselves. You’ll see their smile spread across their face.
What you need:
- Some type of container to put the notes in. This Melissa & Doug mailbox is adorable and I love how the kids can decorate it themselves. Last year we used little mailboxes, also found in the Target Dollar Spot.
- Small slips of paper or index cards
- Crayons, pencils, or markers
When should you do it:
Whenever you think it’s necessary! If you want to do it as a prelude to Valentine’s Day, you don’t need to do it too far in advance. Even just for the 14 days leading up to Valentine’s Day would be perfect. I’ve found that if they’re left out too long, the appreciations lose their novelty. We do them for a few weeks at a time and then I put them away and bring them out a month of two later. Typically we do then in January/ February, April (after spring break), July (because the kids have so much time together over the summer), and again in late September when the hustle of the school year starts.
Questions to ask during this process:
- How does that make you feel?
- What do you like best about yourself?
- Which of these appreciations is your favorite today?
- Did you think anyone noticed that about you?
Asking kids to reflect on this process reinforces that they’re doing some internal critical thinking. Their brain will process that people feel good when you say nice things about them and how that nice things can make them happy. It also helps to teach them to find the good in people.
1 important thing to remember:
Always, always, always put your own appreciations in for your children. They’re going to want to know what you love about them, as well. It will fill their bucket and help see themselves from your point of view. It’s also important in case one of your children doesn’t get as many appreciations as another.
We regularly do Compliment Circles regularly so this is a nice addition to that. It’s especially great when we need a little extra lovin’ around here.
If you try it, let me know how it goes!
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