I was cooking dinner one night when I was struck with an idea as I thought about an area in which our son had shown great improvement. We would have a Family Awards Night at the dinner table and he would receive an award for this area of growth.
It sounds ridiculous but it really is fun. You think of something one of your children has accomplished, excelled at or did that you want to affirm and recognize and you give them a small award. We do this for one of the kids at a time because we want them to learn to be happy for each other and not feel like they “have to get an award” just because the other one did. This is hard to do because you see the disappointment in the beginning of the one who didn’t get an award but how many times in life are they going to face this very thing? Why not help prepare them at the kitchen table for it in a tiny way. Seriously, the kitchen table is such an incredible training ground.
The award is meant to be sort of silly. Like one time I made an award out of tin foil and straws and it was stupid looking but Mitchell loved it. Of course he would. He’s my eccentric, quirky one. And then one time I gave Sophie a pack of gum because she would’ve rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at the freak-show tin foil creation. You could do whatever you wanted for the award and the award could be for anything positive you want to point out. It could be for catching your child sharing or serving another family member. It could be for a great test grade or improvement in a certain area. I use an index card or construction paper and write out a name for the award in chicken scratch “Creativity Award” or “Standing up for what’s right Award” presented to: ____________ on such and such a date. One time we did it and someone yelled, “Speech, Speech!” Mitchell stood on his chair and thanked everyone for coming out (the whopping four of us) and how happy he was to receive the award. Ha! Impromptu moments are the best, are they not?
Something like this is especially good for those of us who are not natural affirmers. I am one of those people. I’m working on it though and this is just one way that forces me to communicate what I see and think in my head but don’t always say out loud. A lot goes on in my head but it stays there. And sometimes that’s a really good thing. Ha! Because I could give all the material a joke writer would need for blond jokes. Seriously, it’s not even funny how true that is. But at least I know it’s true.
Let me leave us with this reminder from scripture today:
“The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
What are we speaking over our children at our tables?