How to Teach Children to Cherish? Show Them.

“Mommy! Mommy! Look at the pretty butterfly over there! It’s so beautiful!”

Mommy gazes briefly at the butterfly and in a flat voice mutters, “Yes, it’s very pretty,” and then goes back to looking at her phone.

And a potentially magical moment has been lost…

diane sitting on steps with three kids

…when mom could have engaged with her child in the practice of cherishing.

Google says that cherishing involves adoring, loving, being devoted to, revering and esteeming. It’s about treasuring and prizing someone or something.

Children need opportunities to learn what cherishing is.

We live in such a diverse, high-powered, high-pressured and fast-paced world which includes an emphasis on materialism. The fact is cherishing is probably not on the radar of many families.

I encourage parents to think about all the times they can to become intentional about it, to truly stop and smell the roses, as the saying goes.

A parent, grandparent, or other significant adult in a child’s life can teach a child to cherish by showing them how to cherish.

It’s about stopping to notice the beauty in nature, getting very specific about treasuring something that is intricate, like a flower or overwhelmingly gorgeous sunset. There are opportunities every day to invite children to practice cherishing.

Adults can teach children what cherishing is all about, and why it is so important.

Adults can help children learn that cherishing makes the world a richer place for them. Cherishing is a way to expand one’s heart and abilities to experience love and awe.

Cherishing is not about how much you can collect. (No one can cherish hundreds of friends on Facebook.) Cherishing is about focusing on a few things that are special and unique. It’s about taking time to develop a deep appreciation for each.

Recently, I spoke with two young friends of mine who are sisters. I asked them what they cherished. The 13-year-old paused and said, “Wow, that’s a really hard question! I’ve never actually stopped to think about who or what I cherish.” She looked reflective. After a few minutes she smiled and said, “I cherish my family. I cherish the vacations we’ve gone on when we can all just relax and care for each other and have fun together. That helps me when we’re back home when things sometimes get tense and people get angry. Those memories are what I cherish and they fill me up.”

The 16-year-old was equally pensive but looked differently at the concept. “Cherishing is about balancing priorities. You need to take time to concentrate on those priorities. You need to set aside time to care for and about someone else.”

These girls are in a family where the parents emphasize family dinners and time together whenever possible.

The parents make sure their children know how much they cherish them, and in talking with them, it was clear they have learned the importance of cherishing right back.

Another friend is raising her granddaughter. When we talked about the subject of cherishing, she smiled tenderly as she talked about the times she’s been intentional in helping her granddaughter appreciate and be grateful for the amazing world of nature all around.

They take slow walks together, where they stop to examine the intricacies of a flower, an insect or a gorgeous sunset. She also talked about helping her granddaughter cherish books shared at bedtime.

These moments of cherishing may supply lasting memories to come for this precious seven-year-old, who has had many challenges in her young life. By being able to cherish and to be grateful, she has been provided with opportunities to expand her understanding of what love and care is and how beautiful the natural world is around her.

Adults can enrich the lives of the children in their care when they model, explain and provide ways for children to embrace a few special people in their lives—those they put above the rest. They can help children cherish the natural beauty of the world that surrounds us.

When adults focus on teaching children to cherish, they have opportunities to remind themselves of the importance of cherishing those people and things that they value and embrace as beautiful, important, meaningful, unique and exceptional.

Cherishing gives us opportunities to expand our hearts, our abilities to love, revere and even worship those special aspects of our lives. The ability to cherish is a gift and a power we all have. We just have to take time to claim that power. We need to take the time to teach our children to claim it as well.

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Invitation to Reflect

  1. Who or what comes to mind when you think about cherishing?
  2. How often have you intentionally focused on cherishing someone or something? How did it feel? How did it or is it changing your perspectives of life and love?
  3. What can you do specifically to guide the children in your life so they can experience cherishing?
  4. Think about the messages in the song “What a Wonderful World” and embrace the messages of cherishing.

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Lakeside Global Institute