Encourage your children to create a bouquet of gifts for Jesus by writing their good deeds down on decorative stars, hearts, or flowers, and displaying them prominently on a wall, refrigerator, or door (perhaps near your Home Oratory). You can purchase decorative Post-It notes in these shapes, or make your own.
This simple practice comes with some powerful payoff. First, focusing on the positive will not only make your children feel good—you’ll find yourself smiling, too. Second, psychologists agree that reinforcing good behavior is much more effective at bringing about lasting, positive changes than nagging or punishing bad behavior. And third, you can use your children’s good deeds as a very effective way of teaching them about Christian morality.
Here’s what to do:
► Start with a pep talk. As you get started, talk about the types of actions that might be “noteworthy.” It might help to draw up a list of actions to focus on, or to focus on one virtue or type of behavior each week.
► Write out the note right away. For the best results with young children, write the note as soon as possible after the child’s good deed. If it is more convenient, though, incorporate a note ceremony into your Family Prayer time at the end of the day.
► Be specific. Describe the child’s good action as specifically as possible to create a “diverse” bouquet for Jesus.
► Offer the gifts in prayer. Be sure to present your gifts to Jesus in prayer, perhaps during your Family Prayer time: “Dear Jesus, we offer you the gift of ourselves, and especially these gifts that we made for you. . . .” Name the gifts. “Thank you for giving us the grace to offer these gifts to you, and please give us the grace to do even more for you tomorrow.” Finish with the Sign of the Cross.
Talk: Loving God by Loving Others
Point out to your children that loving others is one of the most important ways that we can love God. In that way, their good deeds are like a double gift—one that is enjoyed both by the recipient of the kind action and by God.
You can underline this concept with older children by reading them one of the following parables of Jesus: the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31); the Judgment of the Nations (or the Sheep and the Goats) (Matthew 25:31-46).