Finding Gratitude in New Experiences

<!-- wp:paragraph --><p><strong>Grateful Parenting - By Roxi Nevin</strong></p>
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Grateful Parenting – By Roxi Nevin

Recently my 9-year-old said he wanted to play basketball, and I was beyond elated. I’ve longed for one of my children to play a sport, any sport, since before they were born, and I’ve asked them every year about various options, which they’ve consistently declined. But this year I didn’t even have to ask, as he came to me first, and I enthusiastically agreed.

The one aspect of this new activity I wasn’t looking forward to was the schedule changes. I’ve never been good with change, and I’m quite content in my routines and processes. Even good change typically throws me off, and can cause a disruption that takes some getting used to, and this was no exception. Just the additional organization required was quite a process. We are pretty great at misplacing things we need at the last minute just before we are getting ready to go, particularly shoes. Not just any shoes of course, but special basketball shoes that can only be worn on the court and not outside. Along with basketball shoes we added even more things to our collection of sports supplies, including special bags, jerseys, socks, and other special accessories. More things to keep track of = more stress.

Another difficult change that goes along with adding a sport to a kid’s schedule is the schedule itself. Traveling for games means less time managing the household. Practices and events and getting everyone to them on time is just one more thing to have to add on to an already hectic daily routine. But don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth every additional minute of work it takes to accomplish surviving a season of grade school sports. Because when you consider the value of this type of activity, and the lessons we all learn as a family by participating in them, it’s hard not to see how truly impactful it can be, not just for the kids, but for everyone in the family!

When I really thought about it, I found that it was easy to see the benefits in the entire experience as a whole, and there is so much gratitude to be found in the team sports experience. I’ll highlight some examples and how you can use these experiences as a lesson in gratitude for kids:

Gratitude for communication and new acquaintances – Part of being in sports is being part of a team! And that means making new friends, both for the player and the parent. You communicate with the coaches, other parents, and collaborate and make decisions together. You plan events and celebrations, communicate changes, and over time may even become friends and hang out outside of school or sports related activities. Encourage your kids to become closer to his or her teammates and get to know them outside of the court or field. Have conversations with them about showing gratitude to your new friends, and being grateful for that experience!

Gratitude for routine – Having an extra motivation to stick to a routine and schedule can do wonders for kids. Ben, who can find it quite difficult to find the motivation to stop doing the things he loves most, like gaming and sleeping, was much more cooperative and ready to go when a game or practice was involved. He enjoyed going and I didn’t have to beg or bribe him to get his things ready to go. The more often this occurs, the more of a habit it becomes, and by the end of the season you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how self-sufficient your child has become after just a few weeks. Have a discussion with them about how grateful you are for this new change in them, and for how helpful it is to not have to keep track of everything. This can be a powerful motivator in the future.

Grateful for health – Not only is the exercise involved in sports healthy for their bodies, but being part of a team and all of the benefits that go with it, are healthy for their brains and futures as well! According to MU Health, team sports help teach adolescents accountability, dedication, leadership and other skills. Studies also showed that:

  • Many athletes do better academically
  • Sports teach teamwork and problem-solving skills
  • Sports boost self-esteem.
  • Sports Reduce pressure and stress

Knowing all of these things makes it impossible not to be grateful for this experience, and gives us many opportunities to teach our kids how to be grateful leaders.

About the Author

Roxi Nevin is a digital media coordinator and On-Demand content specialist at International Institute for Learning where she has worked for six years, as well as the Digital media administrator for the Center for Grateful Leadership. She has been a freelance writer since her teenage years and is currently writing her first novel. She has five children, many of which she has homeschooled, and is an advocate of the “Peaceful Parenting” method. She is also an outspoken autism awareness activist, as she is not only the parent of children with autism but is also on the spectrum herself. She has embraced the Grateful Leadership message as a lifestyle and has seen major improvements in both herself and her family using the methods taught within the Center for Grateful Leadership.