I keep a daily gratitude journal. When I come home from my early morning workout, I write at least 5 different things I’m grateful for before I start my day. It’s a perfect way to acknowledge my blessings and set my mind on a positive track. However, I’ve found raising teens and tweens can occasionally derail my zen-like gratitude train.

One day after sharing frustrations with a friend about my children, I paused. I’d just spent the last 15 minutes telling her everything they had done to frustrate me. I failed to mention anything positive. And then I realized, I’m always harping on them to stay on top of their grades and their schedules and their messy bedrooms. I very rarely stopped to acknowledge what they were doing well. I guess I just assumed they knew I was always proud of them, despite my constant barking. I never dreamed I could be adding to their stress.

The more I thought about this, the more frustrated I became with myself. No one enjoys listening to negative remarks–especially on a daily basis. I needed to find a way to show my family how much I appreciated them.

During dinner that evening, I started a new family gratitude exercise. Everyone at the table had to share something they were grateful for and they then had to compliment someone else at the table (*we love our dogs, but they were not included in this practice). It was pure magic. My kids complimented each other, and shared their gratitude for the dinner I’d prepared and the activities they were able to participate in that day. This simple exercise immediately brought us closer as a family.

We’ve since made this a daily practice, and it’s been incredible to learn what we all appreciate about one another while acknowledging the blessings that surround us. Parenting teens and tweens isn’t always smooth sailing, but sharing a moment each day to recognize what we’re all doing well makes it just a bit easier.