Creativity

How I Love To Teach My Kids Appreciation

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 5, 2022
The word awe in colorful blocks

Let me explain two appreciation categories — one is the gratitude type. You can be really appreciative, i.e., grateful, that someone helped you move from one apartment to another or they watched your child while you did some errands. A teen might appreciate that their sister took the blame for the messy kitchen even though they had a part in it. 

The other category of appreciation is awe and amazement. You have a great appreciation, i.e., awe, for someone's ability to do something well. Awe could be related to something big such as someone who uses their organizational skills to pull off an event that feeds hundreds of at-risk youth. Or it could be something smaller, such as appreciating a friend’s ability to get people laughing with their clever storytelling. 

Today, I’m focusing on this awe-form of appreciation and how we can foster it in our kids. I believe one key way to do this is to get them to try new things. I notice my sense of awe is much greater for something I have tried myself. 

Below are some examples of the power of experience as an appreciation builder.

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I am in jaw-dropping awe when I watch gymnasts. Starting at 8-years old until I was eleven, I did gymnastics at the YMCA. I loved doing things like back walkovers and one-handed cartwheels. At the same time, many things scared the Dickens out of me. For example, when we did the vault, more times than not, I peeled away to the bathroom to hide out for a while. Another thing that didn’t scare me but I could never master was a press to handstand. 

Through my own experiences and struggles with gymnastics, I gained a deep appreciation for the sport. I wanted to build that same appreciation in my kids, so I signed them up for tumbling and gymnastic classes.

My kids’ decided to do gymnastics for a relatively short time, but I am convinced that it was plenty to boost a deeper appreciation of the sport. As kids they really enjoyed our family outings to go see gymnastic meets at the University of Washington. Backflip on a balance beam — amazing! 

Think about appreciating art. Do you agree that part of why we find ourselves marveling at an intricate realistic painting is that we’ve tried painting as kids? 

Or let’s take a beautifully frosted cake. It is when we have tried frosting cakes do we truly appreciate the skill involved. It takes immense skill and patience. I have never come close to anything a professional baker can do. The cake crumbs always get into the frosting, the amount of frosting is never evenly spread, and my strokes never look right. 

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I am certain that all my mishaps with frosting help explain why one of my favorite delights is oohing and awing at cakes whenever I see them — be it at my local grocery store or a bakery I pass. 

Summertime is a wonderful time to help increase feelings of awe in our kids by  providing them opportunities to try new things, even the littlest of things.

Questions to get the conversations started:

  1. When was the last time we experienced a feeling of WOW when we saw someone do something? 
  2. In what ways do any of our  friends or family members leave us awestruck and how does it relate to our having tried, or not,  whatever it is we are in awe of?
  3. Let's come up with a list of 3 new activities to try this week and see how it deepens our appreciation. Some examples might be tossing a frisbee at outside targets to appreciate disc golf. Or making a new type of vegetable dish to appreciate the work of chefs even more. How about doing a few minutes of stand-up comedy to appreciate those masters of laughter — a talent of which I am in deep awe!
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Creativity

How I Love To Teach My Kids Appreciation

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 5, 2022
The word awe in colorful blocks

Let me explain two appreciation categories — one is the gratitude type. You can be really appreciative, i.e., grateful, that someone helped you move from one apartment to another or they watched your child while you did some errands. A teen might appreciate that their sister took the blame for the messy kitchen even though they had a part in it. 

The other category of appreciation is awe and amazement. You have a great appreciation, i.e., awe, for someone's ability to do something well. Awe could be related to something big such as someone who uses their organizational skills to pull off an event that feeds hundreds of at-risk youth. Or it could be something smaller, such as appreciating a friend’s ability to get people laughing with their clever storytelling. 

Today, I’m focusing on this awe-form of appreciation and how we can foster it in our kids. I believe one key way to do this is to get them to try new things. I notice my sense of awe is much greater for something I have tried myself. 

Below are some examples of the power of experience as an appreciation builder.

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