Cleaning up the Whine

Family Therapy Sterling VA

“I’m so bored!”, “Ew, what is that? I don’t like broccoli!”, “That’s not fair!” Ah, the sounds of summer break have begun in my house. Can you relate?

A negative attitude can place a strain on any relationship. As a parent you may wonder if your generally sweet, thoughtful children have suddenly become entitled and ungrateful. You may wonder where you went wrong. You might be tempted to take drastic measures like threatening to sell all their toys or have them prepare all their own meals. We’ve all been there. But I may have a different, less drastic, option to try first.

There are a multitude of scientific studies linking the practice of gratitude to positive outcomes in relationships and in the treatment of depression. We all know how good it feels when someone expresses their appreciation (not just a passing “thanks”), but did you know the person expressing gratitude experiences a boost in those lovely brain chemicals that make us happy? With that in mind, I grabbed an old notebook and labeled it The Lindsay Family Thankful Journal. When any one of us complains (mom and dad included), we have to write down one relevant thing we are thankful for. The 1st entry read: “I am sad because P* won’t listen to me. I am thankful about P* because if I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t have anyone to play with.”

Other ways to use this:

  • End each day by having each member of the family add three things to the journal.
  • Going through a particularly trying time with one child? Create a private journal for yourself and take time each evening to write down three things about her that you are grateful for. Share one with her the next day to encourage her.
  • Focus on gratitude in your relationship with your partner by sharing one thing about her/him that you are thankful for each day

Practice your gratitude exercises for at least a month and you may begin to notice a shift in your perspective and in the harmony and peace in your home.

Hannah Lindsay, MSW, LCSW provides individual and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office. Email or call her today to set up an initial appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation. hannah@lindseyhoskins.com or 703-951-6409