We’ve heard them over and over again. Those words that feel like they are ripping your brain to shreds because they’ve been spoken over and over and over again… ‘Mum can I have….’ Well my little one takes asking to things to a whole new level.
It’s not just can I have… it goes on for days. ‘When I get this…’ ‘when you buy me that…’ ‘Mum please can you get me’. It’s constant and it’s annoying. The way he goes on you’d think he never gets anything or has no toys to play with. I’m probably not putting it into words very well, how painful it is. But last week it got to me.
I know he doesn’t have the life experience to know how blessed he is. I also know that all he knows is what he has and he’s also a completionist like me, so if you buy him a toy like Minecraft Lego, of course he wants all the other kits.
But I want him to become someone who is grateful for what he has, and to be a person who is thankful.
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” Quote from today.com
Having a thankful attitude changes something in you, it switches your perspective and helps you see the world differently. When my little one isn’t thankful he’s upset, moody and not content.
‘But what about when there is something horrible going on…’ I hear you cry. Yes life isn’t all roses and fairy cakes (or whatever the saying is) but I do think it’s a good practice to even in the hardest of times find something to be thankful for, even if it’s something tiny.
I’m sure my husband won’t mind me saying but about a year ago he was finding things tricky, he was feeling lost and like life wasn’t on his side. He couldn’t see the good things in front of him. So I encouraged him to write a thank you diary. So everyday now he finds 5 things to be thankful for, and it’s really helped him to see the good things to help him look at his day through a different lens and be positive. A friend of ours who is a music therapist says that ‘a thank you diary is the best form of therapy’.
So with this in mind and with my brain feeling torn apart by the constant pecking of ‘can I have’, I went into action.
I asked J to choose a note book – I have lots at home. We designed the front cover of ‘J’s Thank you diary’ then turned it over and on the back wrote ‘J’s wish list’.
So in the front of the book we write one thing we are thankful for from that day. He’s at an age that he can actually write this. But we’ve been asking him to find something he’s thankful for every day since he was 2 and he’s just said it out loud, but we could have written those down.
Then in the back, we sat down together and found pictures online and stuck them in the book of the things he would like, once we’d concentrated it down there were actually only about 5 things, it just felt like more because of the dripping tap effect. Our rule with the back of the book is, once it’s in there he doesn’t need to ask for it again, because if we want to buy him a present or it’s his birthday and we or others need ideas we know where to look. He is allowed to add to the list should he wish to, but he doesn’t need to go on about it. And do you know what, it’s worked. I think him writing down his ideas just meant there was a place to file them instead of him feeling like he had to all the time talk about them in case they got forgotten.
I also think the practice of gratitude at the same time as asking for things (because let’s face it we all want things) just puts the need for things in its right place not a dominant place.
We do talk about how blessed he is and we do talk about others who don’t have as much as us and we also talk about how we can help those who don’t have as much and put it into action.
I’m hoping this is a practice he will continue in his life.
Some other ideas to record things your thankful for…
• A thank you jar – decorate a jar together and have strips of paper ready and every night write down something you are thankful for. Then every now and then have a look through those wonderful thank yous.
• A thank you garden – cut up petals and write on your thankyous’ and then every so often add them together to make a flower. How big can your garden get?
• Over dinner time think of something to be thankful for and then share that, it could spark a lot of dinner chat.
Have fun creating your thankful ideas and thank you for reading!