Think about this – how many times do we, as adults, tend to celebrate all of our little accomplishments? How about the bigger ones? (Or do we take them for granted?) If we have children, aren’t we more likely to notice the little and big accomplishments, such as milestones, for them? Hey – we’re only human! Now think about this – how many times do we notice negative stuff that happens? You have only to watch, listen to, or read the news in the various media outlets to know that they have a strong tendency to promote the negative stuff, although some are way better at balancing the good and the bad. Ask yourselves if you think this is healthy, fair, and right.
Let’s look at the value of celebrations, for us, as adults. Have you heard of gratitude? Scientific studies have shown that acknowledging or even celebrating in some way the smaller accomplishments in life contributes to our mental health in terms of being happy. Being thankful for them makes this effect even stronger. Think about all the things you can celebrate and be grateful for – waking up in the morning, having a roof over your head, noticing the awesome beauty in nature, like beautiful, blooming trees, all the various flowers with their gorgeous colors, having good, trusted friends, meeting an important deadline at work, keeping your work and personal life in balance (at least sometimes!), etc. Are you a student? Did you graduate from a program or complete a course? Or perhaps you got a good grade on a test. Did you get your “to do” list done today? There are endless numbers of ways to celebrate small moments. After all, these small accomplishments build into very large ones, including increasing our own mental health!
If you’ve been following my writings, then you know that I’m very “big” on self-care. If we take care of ourselves first then we are better able to help others, like our kids, our friends, family members, etc. It just makes sense. If we are neglecting our own care, eventually we burn out and then we can’t be there for anybody until we recover … been there and done that! Just taking a moment to acknowledge an accomplishment or be grateful for somebody or something in our lives, is an important first step. Then we can feel happy, proud, and even excited about them. We can share them with somebody important or even (carefully) on social media. What about rewarding ourselves with something small as a gesture of self-appreciation? (Just don’t make it an unhealthy but delicious piece of candy or cake…lol.) How about taking a nice bubble bath, or taking a well-deserved nap? Again, there are endless numbers of ways to do that.
Now let’s go one step further – how do we teach our kids to take care of themselves by celebrating the small things in life? First and foremost – you, the parent, are the main role model, no matter what stage of development your child is in and how he/she is treating you. You can demonstrate this by making sure you spend some regular quality time with your kids. You can perform acts of kindness for others together – perhaps you can help out at a soup kitchen, or even send cards to residents in a nursing home. Depending on circumstances, you, together with your kids, can visit older people who are often grappling with isolation and depression. You can bring rays of sunshine into their days by such small but meaningful acts of kindness.
As our kids get older, they have birthdays, and at least when they’re young, we often have birthday parties. This is a wonderful tradition (but keep the food healthy please), but there are other milestones. As with you, when they do something good in school, make sure you notice this out loud (without going overboard). When they graduate from elementary to middle school, and onto high school – these are great milestones to notice and celebrate in some small but significant way. When our kids do something cute or noteworthy in any way, we can take a photo and “brag.” Our kids will know we are pleased. Small rewards are another way to go but please make sure they are pro-social and healthy – think about food, often used, and encourage healthy, delicious, and nutritious ones. Small monetary rewards may be fine as well. Please do not forget to tell your kids that you appreciate and love them and let them know why! And certainly, remember the hugs and kisses. Let your imagination be your guide, and there are of course many other suggestions available online.
As always – Health and Wellness Online wishes you a happy, holistically healthy day!
Author - Dr. P
Dr. Donna Poppendieck below, who originally began instructing in colleges and universities before offering online courses to providers. After seeing the challenges every parent (and person) faces when seeking to help an individual with mental health issues and addiction, the courses are now widely available. See our courses here.
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.