We have created these social-emotional blogs to discuss various emotions to help parents and educators become more aware of themselves and their practices. We feel that this will in turn help children along their unique paths in life. Every topic we have explored thus far (joy, love and forgiveness) is experienced by every human being on this planet, but we can only discuss these topics from our own individual perspectives.
Appreciation is an important topic, and although we think of appreciating other things, it is critical that we can appreciate ourselves first. If we can't appreciate ourselves, who we are, what we do, how hard we work, etc., how can we truly appreciate those aspects of others in our lives? For us to deeply appreciate others and what they do for us, we must first experience appreciating ourselves and that is not only a great lesson for us as adults and parents, but also sets a wonderful example for our children.
How Does Appreciating Ourselves Help?
Appreciation is best served whole; in other words, to truly appreciate something, you must accept it, with all its flaws and benefits together. This is important because it opens the door to forgiveness, which allows us to move past judgement, toward joy and love. If a child can learn to appreciate themselves, then they can be more willing to accept themselves without judgement. This allows them to try, fail, and try again, a process that is normally halted by a fear of being wrong or a fear of making a mistake.
When a child can appreciate and love who they are, this expands their compassion and capacity to appreciate and love others. As parents, being kind to ourselves and choosing not to harshly judge our own thoughts and actions, demonstrates self-forgiveness and respect to our children. Letting go of our personal judgements is key to treating ourselves with kindness and respect. If your child sees that you love and value yourself and your actions, and can forgive yourself after making mistakes, they too will learn to treat themselves in that same manner.
Lori Deschene, founder of Tiny Buddha, provides an insightful article titled 30 Things to Appreciate About You that discusses the importance of appreciating ourselves and includes a list to remind us of the good things we can do for ourselves, for others and the world. Feel free to share the list with your children and students as well and see if they come up with any of their own ideas. It will be a great way for them to practice and focus on appreciating themselves and take action to express that appreciation.
Another opportunity for children to express what they appreciate about themselves is to draw a picture like this little girl did and then discuss it with you. Isn't her picture and message lovely?
"I appreciate that I am a good person!" -Aliyah, 6 years old
If you are interested in participating in some activities to practice self-appreciation with your children, here are some good ideas from goodcharacter.com.
One of our favorite tips that they mention is to try and limit comparing yourself to others. I think this is a normal human behavior that we all, even kids, practice. But really, we are comparing apples to oranges every single time, as each of us is unique. So by teaching our little ones to compare themselves less, and leading by example, we can open up more room to appreciate all the great blessings we have in our own lives!
Now, we would love to hear, what are some things that you and your children appreciate and why?
Share your response with us in two ways:
Comment on this post below.
We also wanted to share this great list of books by Read Brightly that shares 15 books for kids about being thankful.
Tune in next week where we will focus more on how to appreciate others.
Have a great week!
-Joy Sun Bear Family