Teach Gratitude to a Preschooler in Four Simple Steps

Gratitude

In all things give thanks… The five year old just celebrated her birthday. She received a predictably mountainous and diverse pile of presents from family and friends, and we had a princess party with Rapunzel wigs, manicures, make up, and an assortment of little princess activities. As any parent might, we made a big deal out of her day. Yet as her daddy, I asked myself before the party and after: what lessons are my little girl learning from this showering of attention and gifts, and are those lessons the right ones?

There are obvious lessons: I am special. I am loved. I am blessed. I am liked. My life is appreciated.

There are subtle lessons: Some people brought me nicer gifts than others. Some people seem to be having a better time than others. Some people seem to be sad (or angry) that I am the one receiving all the attention. Some people wish they had my toys.

And there are some lessons that are insidious: I didn’t get as many presents as my older sister got at her birthday. I think the present I got my friend for her birthday party is better than the one she got me. The party I went to last month was much more fun than my party. I don’t have as many friends as some of my other friends do.

You get the idea – all of these are non-specific and all of them apply. I am amazed as a still-rookie Daddy that these lessons are taught and learned at such a tender age. Yet it is my responsibility to lead my family through them: contentment, envy, fairness, jealousy, joy… but our focus for today is gratitude. As you develop a plan for teaching your kids to be grateful, consider these things:

1. You can’t teach what you don’t know.

Before you can teach anything to anyone – and especially your kids – you’re going to need to understand what it is you are teaching them. The word “gratitude” come from the same latin root word from which we derive the word “grace”. Although grace and gratitude don’t share precisely the same meaning, they are two sides to the same coin. Indeed, one could make a strong case that the proper response to grace is gratitude.

So, start like this: make a list of the graces you experience in your own life. Life itself is a good place to start, and while you are at it, think of other people who have led you, and taught you, and corrected you. And maybe even consider how people who have been less than gracious to you have shaped you in ways that have somehow or another worked out well. You can continue from there. Perhaps (and hopefully!) your children themselves are high on this list. Make certain that you consider how the people in your life figure into the grace/gratitude spectrum. This could as easily be called “counting your blessings”, but your list will have greater meaning to you and your kids if you write it down.

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You Can Only Steer A Moving Ship

Prop_and_Rudder

Propeller and Rudder

You can’t steer a ship that isn’t already moving in some direction. Think about it. The propeller must be spinning and a ship must be in motion in order to affect the direction in which it is traveling.

This principle is true in life and leadership as well, yet so often we miss it.

I’ve come across many people who are waiting for life (or God) to show them which direction to take next. Unfortunately, if you’re not already moving, you can’t be steered. Instead, you need to be “started.” And that is a topic for another time.

bow_thruster

Bow Thruster

I have a cousin-in-law who is an expert in cruise ships. And he tells me that modern cruise ships do not have to have forward momentum to be steered. They have what are called “bow thruster” that can move and seer the ship from a stationary position. But even so, the bow thrusters have to get the ship moving in order to accomplish the purpose of steering the ship.

If you’re looking for direction in your life, health, finances, relationships, parenting or any other aspect of your life, don’t sit around waiting for a miraculous neon sign to point you in the right direction. Get moving! And get a “coach” or “navigator” to help you navigate and steer once your ship is moving.

What is the Leadership Lesson here?

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Just What is Coaching Anyway?

Coach DeChellisOne of the great things about being involved in leadership development and coaching is the opportunity to be constantly learning and developing your own skills in these areas. They say that you teach that which you need to learn the most. Although I don’t subscribe to that theory, there is a thread running through it that resonates within me because of the learning that often goes along with the teaching.

If you’re like most of us, you have probably noticed the buzz word “Coaching” being thrown around a lot in the corporate world. I am a leadership and life coach. But what does it actually mean? Sometimes when dealing with abstract concepts it is easier to define it by describing what it is not.

Coaching is not leading. Leadership Voices, LLC is all about leadership and about the many ways that leadership is defined and employed. And great leaders will often provide guidelines and advice on how to succeed in certain areas. Typically they will be seeking to help you reach a certain goal, or they wish to rally you and your colleagues to reach this shared goal. Great leaders will often also be great coaches; however it is still important to understand the differences in the conversations with them.

What is coaching - 2Coaching is not mentoring. If you’ve ever been a coach or have been coached, and the conversation has steered towards advice on technical or job specific concepts, then you aren’t being coached – you are being mentored. Mentoring is defined as, “A situation where a senior or more experienced individual is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor or guide’’ (Business Directory, 2014). Yes, mentoring is crucial in any role, however it is equally as important to understand what mentoring is and why it is being done. Perhaps I will tackle that concept in my next article on this topic that is intimately related.

Coaching is not managing. If your manager provides a coaching session for you, and gives you advice on ways to perform your role in a greater capacity, gives you ideas on how to make your sales quota, or tells you how to achieve KPIs, then you are being managed. And if your manager does this with you frequently and an in a positive way, then you have a great manager. However, a great manager is not necessarily a great coach. It’s not that they are bad at what they are doing – quite the opposite. It’s just that they are doing what they are employed to do – manage their team members and ensure that they deliver on the targets set by their manager.

So, what is coaching?

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