Is hearing the phrase, “I really appreciate all your hard work, Honey,” long overdue? Cultivate a culture of appreciation in your family with activities that help each family member pause and acknowledge others’ gifts, kindnesses and efforts. From the littlest tot in the house to both you and your partner, let everyone know how much he matters in a way that is meaningful.
1. Encouragement Jar
You can start showing appreciation with an encouragement jar, which can be any container that you set out on your kitchen counter or mantle where each family member can access it. Over the course of a week, encourage each person in the family to write encouraging notes -- the littlest ones can draw a picture if no one is around to help with the writing -- to other family members. Write phrases like, “I really appreciate it when you pick up your toys without being asked,” or, “I like when we make cookies together.” At the end of the week, read the slips of paper together -- and put them in an envelope so that you can read them over and again.
2. Hug Day
Declaring a family hug day builds affection, love and maybe even some laughter. Your preschooler will enjoy counting how many hugs he can get, or how many activities count as a hug, like snuggling to read a book or sitting on the couch together to watch a movie. You can also encourage other forms of appreciative touch, like high-fives, kisses or pats on the back.
3. All About You Day
Try designating an “All About You Day” for each member of your family. This is an opportunity for each family member to select a favorite meal or activity, such as pizza and bowling or Chinese take-out and checkers. Other family members can present homemade gifts like coupon booklets for things like a trip to the movies or help with that person's chores. Finish the special day with an award of appreciation, such as a “Special Girl,” “Bright Smile" or "Big Heart” award.
4. Family Appreciation Day
Declare a family appreciation day and spend the day as a family at a local fair or plan a picnic. This should be a special day of uninterrupted time together -- no phones or computers allowed -- just face-to-face family time. A regularly scheduled family day will build family unity and remind you to sit back and simply enjoy being together without outside distractions.