This post was produced by Quirky Kid and first published at the Essential Kids website
Gratitude is a positive way of thinking and viewing the world. Raising a grateful child is a hard thing to accomplish in a culture that wants everything now and is quick to move onto the next best thing but gratitude is an important life skill. By learning gratitude, children learn to become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills such as the ability to view situations positively. Grateful children begin to learn to look outside their one-person world. When a child does not learn gratitude, there is a risk that the child may end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed.
Research suggests that gratitude is something that many adults have not yet developed and find difficult to practice. Children who are encouraged to be grateful throughout childhood, will typically be more appreciative later in life. A 2003 study at the University of California in Davis, showed that grateful people report higher levels of kindness, happiness and optimism. A little sacrifice causes us to miss things that we take for granted …
Strategies to Develop Gratitude
The research tells us that ‘gratitude’ is not an inherent natural behaviour, rather it is a learned behaviour. It is also important to remember that each developmental stage impacts on the capacity the child has to think ‘outside themselves’ and consider others.
We can begin to teach our children gratitude from a young age through modelling. Parents have to model behavior they hope their children adopt as their own. A simple, sincere expression of gratitude when your child does something they were asked to do is always appropriate. On the contrary, demanding ‘thanks’ from your children does not assist nurture the growth and development of gratitude.
We can begin to teach our children, and ourselves, how to think gratefully, by practising the following skills;
- Teach our children to focus on the positive and find gratitude. This can be done by creating a gratitude journal and can be done as a family. Reflect together on the best parts of the day. This teaches children to pause and think about the good things in their day. Also, redirecting children’s attention to all that they currently have, rather than ‘what they want’.
- Celebrate the ‘small’ things. Help your child focus on the things they have achieved, whether big or small. Sharing successes with family members and friends, keep a special folder or box and collate ‘keepsakes’ which help the child remember what they have achieved, the positives in their lives and the happy experiences and memories.
- Teach through example. If you notice a lack of the gratitude attitude, consider teaching through example. Responding in a grateful way, and labelling this ‘gratitude’ behaviour will assist your child learn the ‘how to’ of gratitude.
- Establish family rituals. By having family rituals which centre around gratitude, children learn to express thanks. Examples of family rituals include, each family member listing one thing they were grateful for during their day, or, writing thank you notes to each other once a week.
- Try going without. From time to time, consider a family project that involves going without something important. For example, try making bread for a week rather than buying it, or try walking in your local area, rather than using a car. A little sacrifice causes us to miss things that we take for granted and helps us be a more humble and grateful when the thing is restored.
There are also a range of resources exploring feelings, emotions and behaviours that can help navigate the steps towards good values like Taking Responsibility, I feel Jealous and many more at the Quirky Kid Shoppe.
The impact of a person’s birth order is often underestimated as a significant factor in identity formation. The environment at home impacts on child development and birth order can influence how a child is treated by parents and siblings.
Our birth order impacts how we are perceived by our families and can relate to the amount of responsibility, independence and support we are given as children.
Birth order can also change the way parents raise their children. In most cases parents develop skills over time. The first-born child may be raised in an environment of anxiety if parents are unsure of their new role. This can result in more anxious first-born children. As parents become increasingly comfortable with raising children, they will typically given their second or third born child more freedom to explore etc.”
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“Ideally, children should be raised as individuals. Parents should do their best not to discriminate between children. Making comparisons between siblings is dangerous as this can promote competition” says Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic.
However, the effects of birth order on a child’s personality may diminish over time. “As we mature we are less affected by the behaviour of our parents and our initial family unit” says Kimberley. While parenting effects diminish as children progress into adulthood, maternal bonds may differ according to birth order. One study of 426 mothers relationships’ with their adult children revealed a deeper emotional connection with their youngest child, yet they would be more likely to contact their oldest-born child when facing personal crises. (Suitor & Pillemer, 2007).
In general, first-born children are typically independent, trailblazers, with the propensity to be anxious or dominant. They have also been shown to be higher achievers, more conscientious and more patient. Second-born siblings are more open to new experiences and demonstrate more rebellious tendencies (Healey & Ellis, 2007).
The ‘middle child syndrome’ is popularly characterised by children who might be lacking in identity, trying to please others with no defined goals or vying for attention from their older and younger siblings. However there is little truth to this idiom, in Kimberley’s opinion. “Middle children can be influenced by their elder siblings, and have increased social opportunities with younger and elder peers.” One study of 794 adult middle-borns revealed no reduction in relationship quality with their family members. They did not preference friendships over family relationships any more than other birth orders (Pollet & Nettle, 2009).
Children born last in line typically gain more attention within the family, however they may display more immature and dependent characteristics than their elder siblings. On a positive note, they have been shown to be more agreeable and warm (Saroglou & Flasse, 2003). Interestingly, one study of 700 brothers found the younger brothers were 1.48 times more likely to participate in high-risk activities (Sulloway & Zweigenhaft, 2010). Another study revealed an interesting dissociation: boys with older siblings were more likely to engage in sports like football, whilst girls with older siblings were less likely to participate in extracurricular activities such as community service and school bands (Rees et al., 2008).
Only children can be easily dismissed as spoilt or lacking social skills, however their access to more resources and more parental attention certainly benefit their development.
The literature is divided as to whether birth order significantly impacts a child’s IQ, however one recent study revealed there are approximately 3 IQ points, or, a fifth of a standard deviation between first-borns and second-borns (Black et al., 2011). The discrepancy is not biologically determined, but more a result of birth endowments, allocated resources and the independent personality traits commonly associated with eldest children. These birth order effects are slightly more pronounced for girls (Kristensen & Bjerkedal, 2010). The same effects were found in a study of 2,500 adolescents in a child and adolescent psychiatry clinic (Kirkcaldy, Furnham & Siefen, 2009).
There have been theories that birth order can influence your choice of potential romantic partners. “Couples may be able to more easily relate to each other if they have the same birth order, such as two first borns may be comfortable with independence and increased responsibility. They may also have experience caring for younger siblings,” says Kimberley.
While there are documented effects of birth order on factors such as personality, risk-taking and academic performance, parents would do well to ensure each child is given equal attention, nurture and resources.
Black, S. E., Devereux, P. J., Salvanes, K. G. (2011). Older and wiser? Birth order and IQ of young men. CESifo Economic Studies, 57(1), 103-120.
Healey, M. D. & Ellis, B. J. (2007). Birth order, conscientiousness and openness to experience: Tests of the family-niche model of personality using a within-family methodology. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 28(1), 55-59.
Kirkcaldy, B., Furnham, A. & Siefen, G. (2009). Intelligence and birth order among children and adolescents in psychiatric care. School Psychology International, 30(1), 43-55.
Kristensen, P. & Bjerkedal, T. (2010). Educational attainment of 25 year old Norweigans according to birth order and gender. Intelligence, 38(1), 123-136.
Pollet, T. V. & Nettle, D. (2009). Birth order and adult family relationships: Firstborns have better sibling relationships than laterborns. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 26(8). 1029-1046.
Rees, D I., Lopez, E., Averett, S. L., Argys, L. M. (2008). Birth order and participation in school sports and other extracurricular activities. Economics of Education Review, 27(3), 354-362.
Saroglou, V. & Flasse, L. (2003). Birth order, personality and religion: a study among young adults from a three-sibling family. Personality and Individual Differences, 35(1), 19-29.
Sulloway, F. J. & Zweigenhaft, R. L. (2010). Birth order and risk taking in athletics: a meta-analysis and study of major league baseball. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(4), 402-416.
Suitor, J. J. & Pillemer, K. (2007). Mother’s favouritism in later life: The role of children’s birth order. Research on Aging, 29(1), 32-55.
We are proud to introduce our newest innovation – The Quirky Kid Tickets! Parents have been asking for and we are proud to introduce our effective behaviour management tool as recommended by Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist.
Tickets are a complete reward system encouraging you and your child to work together to manage behaviour.
You start by setting clear, achievable goals together. Follow this up with lots of direct praise when you see your child achieve the goal. Finally, watch the surprise reward appear before your eyes as they scratch their Tickets to reveal fun and creative activities you can all share in.
‘Tickets’ is the latest resource to come from the creatives minds at the Quirky Kid Clinic. An inventive and cooperative tool for managing your child’s behaviour.
It is simple:
– Set a goal
– Give your child a ticket to acknowledge when the goal is achieved
– When your child collects enough tickets, he/she gets to scratch and win!
– Lastly, enjoy the fun and interactive reward activities together!
The Sunday Telegraph completed an article about our resource. You can read about it on The Telegraph online.
Visit the Quirky Kid Shoppe for more information on the Tickets and other unique Therapeutic and developmental resources for children and families.
We love therapeutic resources and go to great lengths to personally develop and produce our hand-packed kits. We are committed to providing parents and professionals around the world with creative and effective therapeutic tools that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are lifelong developmental disabilities characterised by marked difficulties in social interaction, impaired communication, restricted and repetitive interests/behaviours, and sensory sensitivities.
It is called a spectrum disorder as each child may be affected in a different way. The severity of the disorder can range from mild to severe, and includes Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not otherwise Specified.
Repetitive behaviours are a core component of the diagnosis of autism, and they form an important part of early identification.
Typical Development of Repetitive Behaviours
- Infants – often demonstrate repetitive behaviours including kicking, waving, banging, twirling, bouncing and rocking. These behaviours however, reduce after 12 months.
- 24 – 36 months – compulsive like behaviours including preference for sameness begin to emerge.
- 4 years – decrease in all repetitive behaviours. By the time a child reaches school age there are usually relatively few repetitive behaviours to be seen.
Repetitive Behaviours in a child diagnosed with an ASD
The amount and frequency of repetitive behaviours seen in a child diagnosed with an ASD is significantly higher than that seen in children without an ASD diagnosis. There are also differences in the types of repetitive behaviour demonstrated in autism and typical development.
Young children with autism are more likely to engage in
- body rocking,
- finger flicking,
- hand flapping,
- unusual posturing.
Recent studies have shown that a combination of therapies that aim to increase receptive language and improve social skills, can reduce the occurrence of repetitive behaviours.
Need more information?
Quirky Kid is registered to provide services under the Helping Children with Austins – FaCHSIA.
Information for this fact sheet was taken from an interview with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien, the Repetitive Behaviours in Autism Spectrum Disorder Workshop attended by Corina Vogler, Provisional Psychologist and the following articles:
Honey, E., McConachie, H., Randle, Val., Shearer, H., & Le Couteur, A. S. (2008). One-year Change in Repetitive Behaviours in Young Children with Communication Disorders Including Autism. Journal Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1439–1450.
Honey, E., Leekham, S., & McConachie, H.. (2007). Repetitive Behaviours and Play in Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1107–1115.