“Expressing thanks or praise; recognizing someone’s accomplishments or efforts.”
My nine-year-old looked up at me with those big, blaring, brown eyes. “Did you like it??? Are you glad I made it??? Did I do good? I worked on it for an hour just for you!!”
As we continue our conversations about our basic emotional needs let’s think about the need for appreciation. Often, we may even tell ourselves this is selfish, or prideful… We squelch the feeling inside, and quietly often wonder, or even hurt that our loving efforts go unnoticed. Even though we love and enjoy simply the opportunity to give into others lives, we also build community by the giving and receiving of appreciation.
There are a few things we can learn from watching children communicate their needs, and realizing that we are just the “big versions” with the same needs. Children have a way sometimes of expressing it more plainly, than as we grow into adulthood and hint, crave, or go without — feeling sometimes very unappreciated for our efforts. Sadly, at times it can even grow into a sulky, subtle bitterness over something that others do not realize we have need of, and feel neglected therein. Unfettered and free, little ones often express that not only are they quite happy to contribute pieces of love into our lives, they also express the enjoyment and need for hearing that we acknowledge and appreciate their gift!
So, I’m not suggesting that we completely mimic a little child in this… Ha. That could be quite interesting in the world of us “big people,” (Cue a big, bear-hug tackle of a 200 lb bearded man over the table of homemade lasagna his great-grandmother made), but I am saying let’s make this a habit to consciously think with more appreciation and recognition of others, and be vulnerable and brave enough to express when we feel the need for appreciation. Not with whiney-ness, but with joy…. “I was so excited to help you with your work today! Did it really help you? Were you glad?” Today, you and I might need that big, cold, glass of water. Some days we are a bit more dehydrated, and it helps fill us up when our efforts are appreciated. Give another loved one a glass, too. As you ask kindly for yours.
Appreciation can also look like: letters, little gifts, notes, certificates, rewards…
And, can sound like:
“You did such a good job on the yardwork today! I know you worked hard!”
“Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I am so grateful for how much you love me.”
“I see how hard you are working toward your goals in homework. I appreciate your diligence!”
“Thank you for that cup of coffee. Whew, what a day… and you noticed right away that I need some care. Your so kind to me!”
We all share these needs, friends. There’s not a one of us that doesn’t…
Let’s grow together in love, sharing and receiving appreciation for all the beautiful, good ways we contribute to one another in this life.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phillippians 4:8 (ESV)
Center for Relational Care, MacMillan Dictionary (2015); Abraham Maslow; Robert McGee; The Need for Family Appreciation, MSU, (2013).