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Monday mom challenge: Say Thank You to your kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Spread some appreciation

We all go through busy times as families - times when everyone has to pull together a little bit, give a little bit (or a lot), and just get through. Sometimes the source of the busy is something with the kids: mid-terms, or illness, or a sports playoff schedule. Sometimes it's something with you or your partner: deadlines at work, or a big volunteer project or any number of things.

Thank You Post-it

When it's all over, when the crisis has passed, you probably say "Thank you" to your partner or others who have helped you through the crazy. That's a good thing. But do you thank your kids?

A two-way street

Appreciation goes both ways in a household. You want your kids to use manners, of course, say please and thank you, and all that. And you want them to develop appreciation for bigger things. You need to give that to them, too.

Saying thank you after getting through a crazy time - whether it's a few hours, a few days or weeks, or even longer - doesn't have to be a big production - though it does need to be more than a passing comment. It has to be heartfelt. Sitting down at the dinner table and deliberately saying, "I really appreciate how you helped out while I was trying to make my deadline," or, "It means a lot to me that you helped the way you did. Thank you," does wonders for the family dynamic, as well as boosting your child's self-esteem.

No gifts required

Some people thing that saying thank you to kids for their help or cooperation means a gift, big or small. While it's certainly a nice thing to do, it's not required. It may even send the wrong signal - that you do nice things for the reward not the act itself.  The appreciation itself is gift enough.

Families are our first communities, and it's where we learn how bigger communities work. In the wider communities, thank you isn't said nearly as often as it should be said, and it rarely comes with gifts. Taking care to say thank you and show appreciation in this first community can only help our children show that same spirit in the communities outside our front doors.

Are you feeling overstressed? Find out tips for dealing with the pressures of managing your family, work and your hectic schedule.

For more of our Monday Mom series:

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