Raising children is hard. Raising teenagers is harder.
When I had bad days with my kids I would call my mom. After we chatted for a while she would offer her input, support, and advice. She would also end the conversation the same way…”Don’t worry it’s only going to get worse!”
For the record, this did not make me feel any better! Also raising teenagers (so far!) hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would but by now there are certain things I thought I would be done teaching.
Am I really still teaching my teenagers this?
One of them being hygiene. I mean you think by the time you are 10 years old you would know that you need to wash your hands and brush your teeth more than once a day without me nagging you to death!
Since investing in these two books it has been less of a battle but still.
The second thing is manners. Saying please and thank you is really important to me. I will do whatever it takes to raise thankful, appreciative, grateful children in a thankless world.
Effective ways to teach appreciation
Appreciation. Being grateful. It’s a rare commodity now. Phrases like “Please” and “Thank you” often slip out of everyday speech unnoticed by many.
Children. Such a blessing, such angels…especially when they are sleeping. Some are just plain scary when awake. Trust me, I work in retail. I see the good, bad and the super ugly.
These are charming little carbon copies of you, especially the stuff you wish they never would learn. Like maybe your killer sarcasm. Or maybe your amazing stubbornness. Or…well you get my drift.
Thankfully they learn the good stuff from you too, like your sense of love, empathy, and justice.You can teach your teen to be thankful in 3 easy steps!Click To Tweet
Sometimes though I feel like I am in a war, battling against wills, traits embedded with such force I am sure it will never be corrected. The things that I fight against are not seen with eyes but are what surrounds both us and our children. It is the world we live in, work in, learn in.
It’s an Environmental Issue, that could destroy all our hard work if we let it.
Environment? By this, I mean things like commercialism, entertainment, music, books, friends etc. It’s a Me-First World. And that can be scary. Wherever and however, you raise your children, the struggle remains the same. Raising grateful teens is hard.
I am sharing my attack plan with you. These are 3 ways we can encourage being thankful and expressing it.
Step one: Set the example
That’s right, like everything else in life you must teach yourself first. My husband and I make a point of thanking each other for the “for granted” aspects of life, such as making supper, doing housework or even going to work. Letting each other know we appreciate these seemly “little” things not only makes us feel happy but sets a great example for our children.
Ask yourself: When is the last time I said thank you to my spouse or child?
Step two: Be consistent
Don’t be afraid to prompt them even when they are older to say thank-you for things, big and little. From holding a door open to a receiving a gift.
Little ones forget, bigger ones get distracted. Be kind and respectful if possible, a nudge and a whisper so as not to embarrass but sometimes we all need reminders. No worries, they will be happy to remind you as well!
Step three: Praise good behavior
Praise them when they do say thank you. You know the technique “Catch them being good”? It works. It’s when you focus on the good behavior and activities our children do, and we let them know! So go ahead let them know how much you appreciate it, and how good the other person feels. That you are proud of them.
Some people may not agree with me but I make sure that my children realize things come at a cost, not just money wise, but time, effort, energy. So when they receive a gift that they may not be thrilled about (read: That really ugly sweater!) I let them know they can still say an honest thank you. They can thank the person for thinking of them, or pick something else positive about it. “Wow, I won’t be cold in this super-bulky sweater, Thanks for thinking of me!”
Teaching children to be thankful starts at a young age, but just because you have been teaching them to say please and thank you when young, does not mean you get to stop when they are older. Sorry! You will probably need to keep it up with frequent reminders.
Even though my children are older, I still need to remind them to say please and thank you. Mostly I do this at home in everyday moments. “Did you forget something?” Is an often question when they have asked for something and forget to add the keywords.
Take Action-Thank You Notes!
Other things that really encourage and engage children in manners are “Thank you” notes. These are awesome activities that can bring out the artist in the child, be it handwritten notes (aren’t they so rare and just the best??) by email, even neat cards they can design on the computer using paint or word-processing programs and print off.
A few tools we use and love are pages from Reallycolor.com. (Read my review here) which make photos into cards!
Another thing you can use is Picmonkey! On Pickmonkey your children can practice their computer skills and design a card of their own, using fonts, colors, photos they took and more!
Create Your Own Card Using Picmonkey!
If you haven’t heard of PicMonkey you are in for a treat!
It is an online photo editing, collage making, graphic design, creative outlet all rolled into one kinda deal. In other words, if you have a teen that likes to get creative and add their own special twist on things, this is the site for you!
How I use Picmonkey to create thank you cards:
These are the steps I use to create cards in picmonkey:
- Go to https://www.picmonkey.com/
- At the top of the screen, you will find your choices. Click Edit, Touch Up, Design, or Collage. Under “Free Trial” you can also click “Details.” If you want to edit a photo, click “Edit.” If you want to make a design, like I did in the video, click “Design.”
- Note: If you want to use a background image, you will have to choose the ‘Edit’ option and upload your image, instead of choosing design.
- I clicked “Canvas Color” to get a background color.
- Click “Apply…” to save what you did.
- I clicked “Text” to write over my canvas.
- Scroll down until you find a font that you want to use. Click it. You will see a text box on your canvas you can edit.
- To change your text appearance, highlight it then explore the box. You can change the color, alignment, size and more! Play around until you are happy with it and hit apply!
- Next, explore the options on the left of the screen! There are too many to list 🙂
- I chose “Frames,” “Simple Edge.” You can customize your card in so many ways.
- When you are done playing with each setting remember to hit apply.
- Lastly, click “Save,” so it would save to your computer when done.
- Now you can print it off and use, or email if you want! I like to print it off on cardstock to make it sturdy.
- Give creative kids 5 minutes and they will be sharing all kinds of creative cards with you!
Note: There are paid plans that allow you to use more creative tools in picmonkey. I recommend signing up for the free trial and checking them out.
Thank You Kit for Your Teen:
Now that the children are older, I give them each a book of stamps and some colorful envelopes! I also purchased as part of their school supplies printable cardstock in various colors! These are great supplies for them to go ahead and get creative. It also serves as a no excuse not to say thank you, as well as a reminder to do so. I also purchased blank cards with envelopes for the not so creative days. It’s like a little “thank you kit” 🙂
Here is a neat site you can use for younger and maybe older children for teaching manners.
3 Steps to Teaching Thankfulness:
- Set the example. How does that quote go? Be the change that you wish to see in the world-Mahatma Gandhi
- Be consistent. Remind often, practice at home if needed.
- Praise. Catch them being good.
Do you feel this is a challenge facing parents of teens today? How have you combated this problem?