Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Family Forte: The Dance for Appreciation

by: Topher & Ashley Wiles

We all struggle with wanting people to appreciate us, but the demographic that struggles with it the most is our children.  That’s why cute Clara at 3 years old regularly says, “Daddy, come watch the new dance I made up for you,” or “Daddy, look at this big stick I’m carrying.”  Of course, as a dutiful dad realizing that children need that appreciation and approval from their parents, I make sure to praise her for her beautiful impromptu ballet recitals and I tell her to show me how big her biceps have grown after she drags a stick to the burn pile. 

Yet, one of the best parental triumphs that we’ve stumbled onto is getting our other children in on the praise as well.  Gabriel, Micah, and Ethan jump right in with cheers and encouragement of Clara for her many wonderful contributions to the family, and vice versa.  Clara also regularly praises her older brothers for playing with her or for their manly feats of strength.  We are a flawed imperfect family, but we are actively working on creating an environment where no one needs to brag about their accomplishments for appreciation because we regularly point out and praise the others for their good efforts. 

Parent and Teen magazine says this about appreciation: “Children who are recognized and appreciated — for studying hard or preparing dinner, for example — will likely repeat more of these behaviors. And if they get appreciation, they’re more likely to be appreciative. This is because a heightened sense of connection to others contributes to having additional caring relationships.” (March 1, 2019). The magazine then goes on to list five ways parents can increase positive behaviors and appreciation in their teens and the whole family. Here are the five ways in their entirety.

  • 1) Recognize acts of kindness - Catch teens when they’re being kind, generous, and thoughtful. Tell them how pleased you are with their behavior. It’s not uncommon for parents to praise children for getting an A on a test or scoring a goal. But all too often children get recognition solely when they produce. Try to increase the amount of kudos you offer for the efforts they put into being a good person.
  • 2) Focus on positive ways people treat each other - Teens benefit when families discuss selfless behaviors, the kind that usually go unnoticed. For example, make it a habit to acknowledge the co-worker who visits her mother every day or the grandson who takes meals to his grandmother. Make a conscious decision to change what you talk about most – especially if topics tend toward the negative, gossipy or unproductive.
  • 3) Choose words and actions carefully - Children pay close attention to how adults treat each other. Young people always watch grown ups for social cues regarding how they should behave. When we disagree with our partners, we’re in the best position to demonstrate how to voice opinions respectfully. Our ability to listen, to offer kindness even in the heat of the moment, shows children how to appreciate others and their points of view.  
  • 4) Treat strangers well - Children learn to value qualities like compassion when they see parents acting compassionately. No words we say to children will ever be as influential as our own behavior. Our acts of caring and understanding are silent and powerful teachers. Teens and tweens observe us and remember.
  • 5) Value love and kindness over material goods - Never worry about spoiling children with love and kindness. Love doesn’t spoil children, it only makes them sweeter. But love and kindness don’t require buying children every last video game or piece of clothing or material item they request. Remind them to be grateful for what they do have, instead of worrying about what they don’t. It’s OK to have teens save enough money for special items they long to own. The upside of delaying adolescents from getting whatever they want is that they’ll be that much more appreciative when they do get them.  Quoted from (https://parentandteen.com/appreciation/)

A little appreciation and recognition goes a long way in families.  I wonder what would happen if an entire community decided to appreciate others on a regular basis in a positive and public way?  

What would happen if we publicly thanked, appreciated, and bragged on the national volunteer storm relief organization Team Rubicon, who has directly responded to 42 different White County residences with chainsaws, wheel barrows, and smiles after the March 29th storm damage?  Maybe we should point out community servants like Ken & Donna Geer that walk the entire Wheat’s Curve area daily picking up trash for all their neighbors.  Perhaps the Help Center on Main Street should be a focal point for their dedication in continuing to give out food supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.  Surely the Mennonite community is worthy of recognition as they’ve come out in droves to chainsaw trees and repair homes charging no labor in the community to those who receive it.  
Team Rubicon, Bearcove Baptist Chainsaw Gang,
and Central Church of Christ Disaster Response
combine volunteers forces to help clear storm damage. 

Would the entire community react to praise and appreciation similar to the way a child would in the family?  If we appreciated positive acts more, would we see more positive acts grow in White County?  I daresay they would.  Let’s test that appreciation theory in our families and our community by recognizing acts of kindness, treating people well, and valuing people over material goods.  You’ll be glad you did.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.