The Best Things In Life Are Free
I wonder if these are the right messages to give to our children? As a family counselor, I prefer that kids experience the normal range of emotions which includes being sad or lonely, irritated and frustrated and confused or nervous. This helps them to be resilient and to work through those feelings so that they can handle the larger problems that may come as an adult.
I am shocked by the way we tend to over give to our children out of proportion to their age and responsibility level. They are given tools to communicate with strangers, technology that allows people to say things to others that they would never say in person and, frankly, these things waste time which could be better used studying, just interacting with the family or playing games that require creativity and real interaction with people. Some kids are allowed to get hardship driver’s licenses so they can drive and there is absolutely no hardship in the family-they just want to drive early. Brand name clothing links some kids with money (their parents; not theirs!) and can cause kids to link who they are with clothing rather than the strength of their character.
So, as the new year begins, why not focus on teaching your children to be grateful for what they have. And what we have is not our material possessions-those can be lost in a moment. We tend to take things for granted like family (mine is down to two people as all the rest have died), our health, our friends, our home, freedom of religion, our animal companions, nature’s beauty, free speech, etc.
Perhaps have your family begin a gratitude journal where everyone adds each day one thing each person is thankful for. This could be done at dinner time or whatever time is convenient. Entries could be on anything each person is thankful for that day such as “I appreciate my teacher who didn’t give a quiz today as expected!” or “I love the beauty of cardinals in our evergreen trees” or “I am grateful for my brother helping me with my homework.” It would be nice to have it in writing, but if you just have each family member do it out loud that would be as good.
I’ll begin this new year by saying, “I am grateful for each of you, my dear readers, for your devotion to your family. By reading these columns, I appreciate you trying to make your family even stronger! Happy New Year!”
Copyright © 2011, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please read my other column The Counselor’s Corner.
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The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.