Four Things I Ask My Children to do Daily

There are four things I ask my children to do every day so that they can grow into being the best versions of themselves.

1) Learn something new.

I am a firm believer in that education is a life-long thing and that we remain students forever. I want my children to understand that and to realize how much there is potentially to learn in a day. So everyday I ask them to tell me something new they’ve learned during that day. I discourage a fact that they feel compelled to memorize for the sake of satisfying me. Instead, I encourage them to tell me something they’ve genuinely learnt, whether it is a fact or an observation they’ve made throughout that day. Usually my kids share more than one and it leads to great conversation, usually as I’m serving dinner. We read alot of non-fiction and we also watch age-appropriate documentaries so there is always an abundance of things to discuss and questions to be asked. Young children are naturally curious but I feel like we loose a lot of that zeal as we age. This is my way of trying to perserve that as much as possible.

2) Help someone.

This can be something as simple as helping a friend with schoolwork or including someone that has been left out during recess or something bigger like taking the initiative to gather things to donate. Helping me counts as well but I try to encourage them to help others outside of family because we are naturally inclined to help the ones we love anyways. My hope is that this exercise will help solidify the concept that when they do something, it should be out of the goodness of their heart, not because they expect something in return, as they realize they won’t get anything in return most days. This applies to strangers, friends, and family. We do not discuss this because I believe when you help specifically someone, it should not be shared by you with the world, instead I simply remind them to be kind when they leave for school.

3) Sit quietly for five minutes.

As much as it is important to help others, it is important to help ourselves. We lead busy lifestyles and my kids are too young to meditate or realize that they need to stop and rest. I’m not the greatest example either. However they are definitely not too young to sit quietly, eyes closed, taking slow, deep breaths for five minutes, which essentially is the beginning of meditation. I set a timer so there are no interruptions or curiosity over when said 5 minutes are over and I turn on the diffuser. We use some great kid-friendly essential oils. Kid or adult, we could all use breathing-focused quiet time to recharge and reflect. This is usually done after bath and before homework because it helps wind them down after a long, loud, hectic school day. However, this five minute quiet break is not limited to just after bath. I encourage five-minute breathers for whenever they are feeling stressed/unmotivated/overwhelmed/upset. It offers them a chance to calm down, gain new perspective, and clarity. It’s also an awesome way to start the day. This exercise is also a great way to develop patience and an appreciation for stillness.

4. Practice Gratitude

Starting this year, the older kids started keeping a gratitude journal that I gifted them for New Year. The kids keep their journals by their bed and right before bed, they jot down three things that they were grateful for during the day or three things that made them happy that day. They are not required to share that with me unless they want to, because it is personal and I choose to respect their privacy. Alot of times they choose to share and if we are pressed for time they just say it out loud/in their heads; it’s no big deal, we pick up wherever we left off in the journal. In today’s world where materialism is at it’s highest and we are fortunate to have things at our disposal, I think it’s important to teach children to count their blessings to avoid becoming insatiable.

I don’t think these are high or impossible expectations. None of these are meant to be stressful or thought of as a checklist. I want these to be simple yet effective and not feel like a chore, and instead help them form positive habits that they will hopefully take into adulthood. 

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