Kids, especially those in high school, face an incredible amount of pressure to succeed. Parental expectations to achieve excellence in academics, do well in extracurriculars, find their purpose and calling — all while balancing an intense, burgeoning social environment, can be overwhelming. Add to that hormonal and physical changes, peer pressure, non-stop digital media streams, social and political environment, incidents at home and outside— students can lose sight of all the good going on in their lives.
From a parent
“As a mother of two teenagers, I am always challenging them to get outside of their comfort zones, take on new responsibilities, set goals and achieve them. I fear I might be making them feel that they’re not good enough as they are!”
“I want them to know how much I love and appreciate them as they are.”
From a teacher
“I’m enormously grateful for my students. First of all, they put up with my idiosyncrasies. They laugh at my terrible jokes. They put their faith in my instruction and reward me with kindness and gratitude years after”.
“I’m also grateful for the way my students inspire me. I’m grateful for the relationships we build, the memories we share, and for those moments when they allow me a front row seat to their joy.”
The close of the year as the sun sleeps in longer and the morning air cools, is the perfect time to remind all those we have in our lives – especially our kids, how grateful we are for them. Here are some thoughts on how we can do it.
What Parents Can Do at Home
- Let your kids know that you love and support them. Oftentimes we get caught up in pushing them o to be the best versions of themselves. We want them to be chirpy, humorous, planned, measured, diligent, helpful, focused, fun-loving, healthy, well-rested, hard-working – all at the same time. Pause, and praise them simply for being who they are.
- Make a mention of positive behavior and praise them for it. Tell them specifically how it helped. This places value on being a genuinely good person.
- Send a text or leave a note on their desk. This small gesture can make their day and reminds them how much you care.
- Show up to their big event or day. In our fast-paced life, we are ever ready to pass on the baton to the next available family member or friend, and run. Being present means more to them than you know.
- Make their favourite food. Surprise them with their favourite meal or take the time to cook it together! Things can get hectic with busy schedules, but bonding over a shared meal together is a great way to spread the love and enjoy each other’s company.
- Give your child the gift of a new experience! Even if it’s just exploring a different part of the neighbourhood or watching something together on TV, spending quality time together helps strengthen your relationship and may teach you both something new in the process.
What Teachers Can Do in the Classroom
- Have your students write down a list of who and what they are thankful for. Students can easily get caught up in all the noise and lose sight of all the good in their life. The more positive emotions they experience, the more flexible, creative, resilient, and socially integrated they will be.
- Place an empty jar next to blank strips of paper with pens/pencils and have students write when they have felt grateful for something or have a positive experience. Dump out the jar and read a few notes randomly picked, to reflect on some great highlight moments!
- Have your students talk through any passage or activity in their lives in detail-for example, getting ready for school, getting to school, a visit to a store. Have them focus on the different helpers, the visible and invisible ones (like the person who cleans the school-van before the driver and the kids get to the scene). Emphasize on how it is not easy to thank or help these people in return, but ‘paying it forward’ is a great way and the ripple effect it can have is magical!
- Have students pass around a piece of paper with their name at the top and have any one of their peers write a positive note about the student on their piece of paper.
- Take time to brainstorm ways your students can get more involved in the community or campus. Doing something positive for others can be a great learning experience for students, adding meaning to their daily routine and building deeper connections.
Spreading kindness and gratitude is always a good idea! Give thanks. Give love.