DIY, Selah, The Everyday

Teaching a toddler thankfulness

May 12, 2015
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Don’t confuse the title here with something I’ve got down pat. Because let me tell ya: this is something I am currently learning how to do. This is something that is having to be lived out loud here in our home… As it should be, but a certain three year old has really brought out the red flags lately that her parents may have dropped the ball with her on this important, life-shaping topic so far. *Ahem.*

Selah is such a good kid. She’s polite, and sweet, and so incredibly smart. She’s always been extremely easy going, and easy to parent, but she’s three (and a half) now, and with her growing age comes a growing personality. She’s growing into her own individual, with her own thoughts and passions and opinions and understandings. And I’m sure we can all agree that without the right guidance and teaching, there are areas in all of our lives that just naturally lend themselves to selfishness and entitlement and an unappreciative perspective.

In no way am I labeling my girl to those traits. Because I know her, and her heart is golden. BUT, as a parent, it is part of my job to discern when some things are getting a little off track, and do my best to teach and gently redirect her towards an instinct of being grateful, and knowing how to give thanks. And not just nurturing the knowledge of how to, but fostering her desires to want to.

So the other night when I was tucking her into bed, it all hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized I was staring into the eyes of my child who had her fingers plugged in her ears, deliberately checking herself out of conversation with her momma because I was not entertaining her wishes for all the new toys, and more shows, and giving back her iPad. Things. That has been our battle lately. We talk about things, she asks for things, her behaviors and reactions and responses to people have lately revolved around things. Materials. Toys, electronics, candy, and presents. “I went potty, I deserve something.. If I do this, you should give me this… I’m tired of these toys, and I want those toys… If you don’t let me watch another show, I am going to make your day absolute HELL…” And so even though I was T-I-C-K-E-D at her decision to so literally demonstrate that she was not listening to me in the moment, I was deeply convicted at how we have gotten to this place.

It starts with us. Mommas and Daddies. It starts with our hearts. Our demonstrations. Our authenticity. And I knew in that moment that she was showing me what she’s been taught. And my heart SO desires to not only raise the child in front of me, but to raise her with intentionality for the adult she will very quickly become.

So I walked downstairs, had a heart to heart with Jeremy, we got on the same page, and we knew that the next day would be different. We were going to have to model for her what it means to give thanks for anything and everything. The little things. The big things. The good things and the bad things. Not just for our Lalaloopsy toys, either. But for the food we’re about to eat. For the bird nest we discovered in our front yard that gave us so much joy. For the time we got to spend together during the day. Thanksgiving for each other, and for people, and God’s protection, restored health, and yes, even our material things. But not just.

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The thing about Selah is that she can get totally excited over a project, especially when she knows that we are invested, too. She will eat it up! And she will learn quickly. And she will carry it forever. So I knew that this would be the way to her heart: a station by her room, with a board for her to tack up all the things that she can think of that she is truly thankful for.

So I present to you Selah’s “Give Thanks” Station.

I’ve been thinking since we moved into this house about what to do with this awkward little space by Selah’s bedroom. It’s just a little nook by the stair bannister, probably most conducive for a book shelf, or a laundry basket or something. But it’s gone unused for six months because I’m a fan of keeping her toys confined to her room where she can throw them about in her usual Tasmanian devil fashion.

Ultimately, it’s the perfect little space for something like this project. Right by her room, she’s taken ownership over it, and she’s really enjoyed writing down her thanks and putting them all on her board.

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diy thankful board project chevron cork board milk glass fresh flowers pennant banner cricut expression2

I found the cute little cork board at Michaels, along with the chalk board pencil holders. I made the little pennant banner from stuff I already had in my craft drawer, broke out my Cricut Expression2, and strung it up with some jute twine and thumb tacks. I stole the tri-legged-yard-sale-find of a table out of our guest room, cut up some scrapbook paper, put it in a milk glass bowl I had laying around, collected the colored pencils, thumb tacks, and topped it all off with some fresh flowers. Voila. Inexpensive, cute, and so far, effective.

We’re onto more purposeful thanks-filled days around here. It’s amazing what comes out of this little ham of mine when she tells me what she would like me to write down. Whether it’s “fire”, or “coffee”, or “all the amazing things outside”, nothing is off limits if we’re truly thankful for it.

So here’s to conviction, and learning, and thanksgiving, and hopefully no more moments of rude ear plugging.

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