Teaching gratitude, and perspective, to children
Adapted from the MD Mama blog on Boston.com.
It happens all the time. My 8-year-old, Liam, will have a perfectly fine day — a good one, even. He will have played with a friend, had hot cocoa, and taken the dog for a walk with his dad. But when he gets into a fight with his sister and ends up being sent to his room to calm down, he’ll declare: “This is the worst day ever!”
Liam needs BPOD.
BPOD is a term coined by my dear friend Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, who started the tradition in her family. It stands for “Best Part of the Day.” Every night at dinner, they go around the table and everyone tells their favorite part of the day. Dr. Swanson says that it has now become part of her family’s language, and how they think about their days. When something fun or good happens to one of her two boys, such as scoring a goal at a soccer game, he’ll say, “This is my BPOD!”
I love this tradition. I love it because it teaches gratitude, and, boy, is gratitude a good thing to learn. I also love it because it helps give perspective, and we need that desperately too.
Sure, not every moment of every day turns out the way we want. There are plenty of days when nothing seems to turn out the way we want. But if we make ourselves stop and think, we can always find something. It may be as simple as a great cup of coffee. Or a bus that came on time — and had a seat. Or a presentation that went better than expected. Or a smile from someone. Or a hug from someone we love. When we think about our BPOD, it can give us just the perspective on our day, and life in general, that we need.
Swanson has a new book. It’s called “Mama Doc Medicine,” and it’s full of advice and information that helps us gain perspective on all sorts of things — from fussy babies to tantrums to immunizations to that ever-elusive work-life balance.
Think about starting BPOD in your house, or your own equivalent. You’ll be teaching your child some important lessons. And it might just help you too.