In any given moment, it is easy to think about the next destination, event, meal, possession, or project. This is especially true for children, as their attention span for appreciating what they have or are doing in a moment is quite short. We don’t help expand their attention capacity. In fact, we lead by the wrong example by consistently anticipating our future wants and/or needs. To help children live in the moment and appreciate that which they have now, they must learn from who they admire most—you.
It is common to hear a child inquire about an upcoming activity when still knee-deep in one, or desire the newest gadget while playing on their current high-tech device. They may express the desire to visit a new entertainment facility before they have arrived back to the car from their current excursion, or anticipate summer break the week after returning from spring break. This is normal childhood behavior. And while we hope to grow out of this constant state of anticipation and future desire, many of us continue to perpetuate this behavior long into adulthood and parenthood.
Look at the way society approaches calendar celebrations. Before Fourth of July leftovers are gone, we find ourselves anticipating back-to-school necessities. Prior to the Halloween candy being eaten, we see the first signs of Christmas in the stores. And, before St. Paddy’s Day, we start thinking about preparing for bathing-suit season. Similarly, as adults, we are always discussing future activities, events, and possibilities. Sometimes forethought is essential, but most other times it taints our ability and our children’s ability to appreciate life in the moment. How do we appreciate where we are in life in the moment when we are constantly thinking ahead? We must forego living in anticipation and instead strive to live in satisfaction and appreciation. If we change our perspective and model appreciation for our place and time in life, our children will adopt this same approach to their present.
- Encourage your child to keep a journal. Journaling is a great way to keep track of how you feel in a moment and allows self-reflection on a specific place in time.
- Be present and vocal. When involved in a conversation with your child, be present and engaged in that. Verbalize, then and there, your appreciation for that time with your child.
- Lead by example with your gratitude. Children will naturally crave more, but if you vocalize your gratitude, for both material and emotional things, you will encourage them to vocalize their own gratitude for that which they have. Don’t be scared to discuss global issues of those who are less fortunate to guide their perspective and appreciation.