I love the song “My Favorite Things,” composed by Richard Rodgers.
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.”
I know we all remember when Julie Andrews sang this in “The Sound of Music,” produced by Robert Wise with music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.
During this month, I’ve had reflections of heartfelt gratitude. These reflections made me realize my favorite things are faith, family and friends. I know right now it is so hard in this world to raise families. I respect and pray for our young families who are trying to make it during this season. I hope the little bit of heartfelt outreach in this column will help young parents in sharing the most important things in life, which are faith, family and friends.
1. AS WE OPEN THE SPIRITUAL DOOR IN PLANTING.
As parents and teachers, we have to experience faith ourselves. Seeds in the hearts of young children grow by living and experiencing faith. We can look back on our lives as God gives us altars with answered prayers, carrying us through tough times, letting us know that He is walking beside us.
I know from teaching young children that they will literally ask, “What is faith that you keep talking about?” Of course, my answer is “to trust God.” But young children will come back and let you know, “I cannot see God.” This is a question that we as parents, grandparents and teachers answer by showing our children.
We can model a life of faith. Being in the midst of young children is the best audience to be in. They will challenge your thoughts and truly encourage you in hope and joy. Children observe their parents and teachers very closely; this is how they learn. This is a time where parents and teachers can look for opportunities to share what faith is. This can be done by sharing stories from the Bible of people having faith, such as children’s favorites like the story of Noah building an ark and how God took care of him, his family and animals; how The Lord parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites to escape slavery from the Egyptian; or the walls of Jericho crashing down after the army marched around it just seven times, as God had commanded. These are just a few examples from the Bible that young children understand and can apply in their lives. Also, by faith, children see the miracles that Jesus did in healing people who were sick.
As parents and grandparents, we can also share our own stories of faith. Children absolutely love to hear stories from their parents, grandparents and even teachers about how faith in God has helped us.
2. HOW CAN WE AS FAMILIES TEACH YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT GRATITUDE?
As parents, grandparents and teachers, we can be an example and model of expressing gratitude. I love to see young children break out in a great, big smile after opening a lunchbox and seeing a “thank you” note or a drawn picture from Mom or Dad expressing gratitude of some kind for an act that their child has done at home, like cleaning their rooms or helping their parents by doing age-appropriate kitchen tasks or other household chores. Showing public gratitude — even for little acts of kindness, gifts, etc. — in front of your young children teaches them to model your actions. You can extend thanks, for example, for someone opening a door for you and your family, helping to carry groceries or serving a family food at home or a local restaurant. These are ways your children observe and imitate your models of gratitude. These actions of gratitude show that blessings are all around. Thankfulness is a wonderful attitude to learn.
Celebrate your child’s individual self. I love what God teaches us in Psalm 139:14: “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” T-I-M-E spent with your child spells L-O-V-E. Undistracted listening is a courteous gift of love to our young children. Modeling good listening skills for our children develops empathy. This says and shows our young children that they are loved and truly cared for. During this time of talking with your children, you can talk about the best parts of their day, discuss how they truly like their friends and why, what games they like to play or toys they like to play with.
3. IN TEACHING YOUNG CHILDREN ON THE TREASURE OF MAKING FRIENDS, I TEACH THEM A LITTLE SONG OF TRUTH I LEARNED AS A CHILD IN THE GIRL SCOUTS PROGRAM IN OPELIKA.
“Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver, and the other is gold.” When children begin to discover the joy of friendships, their world opens up to new relationships and socialization skills. Of course, this does depend on the age of the child.
When children are very young, parents, grandparents and teachers can role play with their children in activities, sharing activities, playing and interacting with them while teaching them how to make friends.
When inviting friends over, it is wise to plan activities such as going to the park, playing games outside or inside, viewing a video and enjoying a favorite snack together. With young children, it is necessary for parents to quietly oversee the play of their friends, especially if it is their first time to play. As a parent, you don’t want to dominate or control their play, but you mainly want to facilitate their play.
Over these days of Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day, you and your child can write down, draw or talk about the things they are thankful for during this season of gratitude!
Have a wonderful week being grateful for each day!