One of my twin daughters has a big, powerful voice and is pretty bossy sometimes.
The other likes to do things better than everyone else and she likes to do them first.
These are just a few of the personality quirks that are often the source of many conversations around our house.
Conversations about trying harder to be kind and fair to others.
Conversations about what we can do better on tomorrow.
Once I understood that these “quirks” we were always addressing were really just interesting ways my child is being human, I was finally able to relax a little and feel genuine gratitude for who they are as they are right now rather than continuously wishing they would change.
If we want grateful kids, we have to be grateful ourselves and stop wanting for things we don’t need.
But beyond things there’s another set of gratitude muscles parents need to build.
The ones when we stop trying to change our children. The ones when we stop trying to force them to grow up too quickly. The ones when we put unnecessary pressures on them.
The ones when we stop wishing for them to be someone they are not and start seeing their quirks as strengths — such as being promising leaders and being willing to stand up for themselves.
That’s right, I’m offering up this great idea to be grateful for your child and all of his or her quirks.
Be proud of those very things that drive you insane, make your cry and have you falling into bed feeling as if you’ve just been through battle.
Because those are the very things that are making you stronger.
Because those are the very things that are the heart of your child.
Here are three areas where you can practice gratitude with your child in mind and love him or her fully:
1. Be Grateful for their Health: When your child can climb, explore and make messes, be thankful and appreciative of that mess you get to help clean up. Their strength and motivation to ask questions are positives in a child.
2. Be Grateful for their Personality. No one else has that exact same personality and upbringing. They are their most unique self — even now as they are growing and evolving. Understanding that their personality is theirs forever and ever is the first step to appreciating who they are now and not wishing to change something that will likely never change.
3. Be Grateful for the Hard Moments. They are the ones teaching your child — and you — how to cope in life. Learning how to express differences, get our way and make amends are really valuable teachable moments. It’s time we start appreciating them for how they make us stronger, rather than wishing them away.
Shawn Fink is a family wellness coach and founder of The Abundant Mama Project community and online program. She is also the author of The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow and The Playful Family. She recently created the program Rise and Shine, a 10-Day Challenge to help you sleep more, rise early and take care of yourself before your world wakes.