via houzz: The summer of 1968, my parents were in the market for their first home. In a neighborhood they liked, they found two houses, side by side, up for sale. After they toured both, they decided on the slightly smaller one on the corner, and moved in a few weeks before my older brother was born. Three more of us followed in steady succession.

The people who bought the house next door were an older couple. If you restrict the definition of “good neighbors” to how they keep their homes, then the Lincolns were the best. They kept their house and yards immaculate, but they were unfriendly. His constant expression was disapproval mixed with suspicion, and she always seemed to be discovering a bad smell.

My parents took care of our home and yards, but in the front our lawn met theirs, and the line of demarcation was as obvious as if there had been a fence. Second only to the care and keeping of his enormous Cadillac, lawn maintenance was Mr. Lincoln’s life’s work. When a ball fell across the property line, one of us would retrieve it, running as if the grass were lava.

My siblings and I were taught to be respectful of all of our neighbors’ property and the neighbors themselves, but the Lincolns were such a couple of curmudgeons, our mere existence was an affront. This sort of disdain wears on even the strongest psyche. When we moved it was such a relief to have acres of woods and fields to roam through and to be free of constant suspicion and disapproval.

When I grew up and bought a home of my own, I discovered we had the kindest neighbors in the world, but even so I tried to make sure my children weren’t wearing out our neighbors’ warmest welcome.

Here are my recommendations for helping your children learn how to be good neighbors.

1. Establish boundaries and routines with your neighbors first. This sounds obvious, but in the busyness of life, simple things can be forgotten or taken for granted. Ask your neighbors what they would want your children to do if a ball goes into their yard. May your child walk into their yard and retrieve it, or would your neighbor prefer a knock on the door first? Are there any special considerations? Does your neighbor work at night, and would he appreciate quiet right outside his bedroom window during the day? Asking simple questions like these will show you care about and respect your neighbor’s wishes and needs.

2. Teach your children literal boundaries. When they are quite young, explain where your property ends and where your neighbors properties’ begin. Explain to your kids what you and the neighbors discussed for ball retrieval or anything else. This is especially important if your neighbors have animals.

3. Explain figurative boundaries. Your child may be entirely on your own property but yelling his or her sweet head off. Although you may be able to tune this out entirely, your neighbor cannot. Kids shouldn’t need to skulk around whispering, but a basic understanding of other people’s needs will serve your child forever.

4. Don’t cover it up. Accidents will happen. Teach your child what to do when things go wrong. Talk through different scenarios: kids are playing ball and accidentally break a neighbor’s window. The instinct is to run, but that’s no solution. Help children decide how to find and ask for help when they’re scared and most tempted to make a bad situation worse.

5. Teach your children to look for opportunities to help and serve. Is a neighbor struggling to carry in a carload of groceries? A simple, “May I give you a hand?” could make a neighbor’s day and give your child the opportunity to experience the great feeling that comes from helping others.

6. Ask for feedback. Keep an open conversation with your neighbors. Most people won’t rat out your kid for being a pest, but if you check in and ask how things are going, your neighbor may feel freer to express an annoyance that’s easily corrected.

Learning to be a good neighbor while still young will help your child find his or her place in the world.

Via Therapy by Ashley: 3 Tips for Teaching Gratitude to Kids

November is here, which means Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Grocery stores are stocking up, Facebook is full of posts expressing what people are thankful for, and guys are competing in who can go the longest without shaving. It is truly the beginning of the best time of year.

The holidays bring about so many great things, one of which is the opportunity to teach and demonstrate to our kids the idea of living a life of gratitude.

While giving thanks and giving back are usually values that most parents work toward instilling in their kids, the holiday season is typically the time where it is shown and talked about the most.

Teaching your kids about gratitude breeds more than kids who are not entitled.

When kids learn about gratitude they learn about empathy or how to be sensitive to other people’s needs. They learn what it’s like to put themselves in another person’s shoes thus treating them with respect. They learn that life isn’t all about material possessions, something all parents want.

Unfortunately, gratitude is not something that comes natural to kids, as you’ve probably seen! It’s something that is learned; something that you influence.

Here are 3 things you can do as a parent to help foster and nurture that sense of gratitude not just this holiday season, but all year long!

Speak it:

Look at the way in which you are speaking with your children.

Do you verbalize gratitude for other things, people, and places yourself?

Kids will watch and listen to what you are doing. If we are speaking the language of gratitude our kids will take note and be more likely to speak it themselves.

Expressing gratitude can be verbalized in the simplest of ways; “Look how pretty those Fall leaves are, aren’t they so beautiful?” “I love when you help Mommy with the dishes,” “We are so lucky that Grandma and Grandpa live close by to help us.”

For Holidays, birthdays, special events where gifts are given, place more importance on the actual celebration rather than gifts itself.

Emphasize how part of what makes Thanksgiving so great is being with family or when everyone helps cook the meal.

This will help them understand that these events are not just about getting gifts.

Teach it:

Teaching gratitude doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think.

Having your kids help with household tasks and responsibilities allows them the chance to experience the effort and time it takes to complete these things.

While it can be really tempting, don’t just immediately jump in and take over.

Stand back and revel in the idea that you are raising kids who are willing to be an active part of the family and who pull their weight!

They’ll also appreciate the things that you do for them more if they can have first-hand experience of what it’s like.

Live it:

While speaking and teaching are both really important parts, LIVING a life of gratitude will speak more to them than anything else.

Engaging in acts of service together as a family such as volunteer work is great and allows kids to see their efforts making a difference.

Having kids write thank you notes may be a small gesture but can be so meaningful to those receiving it.

Other ways such as giving money or even unused items to organizations can be a reminder to kids of how much they DO have.

Try sitting down every quarter as a family and planning out ways for you and your family to give. This also teaches kids that giving back and showing gratitude is not just conditional to the holidays but something that should be done all year long.

Of course, there are other great ways of teaching gratitude to your kids. The key is to be consistent and intentional.

I’d love to hear other ways you’ve helped your kids learn about gratitude!

Comment below and let me hear from you!