Welcome to the last day in my Back to Basics series — how we’re reshaping our family and values, one step at a time. Today I’m sharing how we celebrate success



Just to recap — We’ve had a tough summer, filled with family struggles, values clashes, faith tests, and morning sickness {among other minor ailments} and our parenting style and kids’ behavior really suffered. Brian and I decided to pull back from things, focus more on each other and our kids, and reshape the way our family interacted, with each other and society. 

We created a Family Mission Statement to serve as our foundation and governing system, each took on chores to maintain the running of our household, came up with a simple to follow {and follow-through-on} discipline strategy, and started a Bible and character-driven morning routine to start us all on the right foot every day. 

Now it’s time to focus on the celebrating. It can be so easy as parents to spend all of our time focusing on the little {and big} corrections we need to make every day to help our kids grow up in the way we want them to. 

But kids need to know — especially if our plans for disciplining poor choices and behaviors are to work — that positive choices and behaviors earn them positive consequences.


When we talked with our kids about discipline and behavior, we explained that all behavior has consequences — good and bad. So we’ve decided to be more purposeful about catching good behaviors. And celebrating them.

From the simple to the complex, depending on the need, we celebrate as many things as we can. 

  • You fed our pets without being reminded? Hooray! How blessed they are to have you for an owner. Let’s have ice cream after dinner.
  • I love how you spread love and compassion by playing with the neighbors, even though they’re six years younger than you. They look up to you so much. I’m so proud of you. How about we read an extra chapter of our book after your sisters go to bed?
  • I’m really impressed that you didn’t lose your temper when your little sister wrote on your phonics workbook. While she’s napping, why don’t you and I take a few minutes to play Candy Land to celebrate what a patient big sister you are. 

And then there are the big things. Those heart issues we’re really trying to work on. Sometimes the kids need stronger motivation. For example, one of the things they’ve really struggled with lately is selfishness. They are selfish with their toys, friends, and time. We really want to raise selfless kids. Children who think of others first.

For this and other big issues, we hold a family meeting to talk about the issue and an incentive for mastering and overcoming the negative behavior. While there is still the regular negative consequence of extra chores when selfish behavior occurs, we step it up by purposely looking for unselfish behaviors to help show the kids that they can, and do, act in kind ways often.

After playing at a friend’s house in California, Trevor and Molly really want the game Skylanders for our Wii. So, we bought the starter set when it was on sale at Target last month, put a mason jar in front of it, and told them that they can earn a kidney bean every time they’re caught doing something unselfishly:

  • playing with a sibling instead of going off by themselves like they wanted to
  • cleaning something up just because they noticed it needed done
  • waiting to eat until everyone is seated and Grace has been said {without being reminded}
  • sharing a favorite toy
  • getting little sis a snack or drink

Once that jar is filled, we’ll pop some popcorn, break open some Sprite {soda is a rare treat here} and play some Skylanders together to celebrate success. 

We’re also celebrating each other as often as we can. We’re a family and that’s valuable, and so we try to get together at least a few nights each week to play a game or watch a movie. We go for walks and talk about how grateful we are for each of them.

Little rituals, walks, and picnics go a long way toward showing your kids that they are valuable. When we remember to celebrate those little lives that have been entrusted into our care, we heal hurts and grow hearts for God. 

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating those little ones that look to us for Godly leadership. Reshape your family, take it back and grow hearts of love. 

How do you celebrate your kids? Share some of those big rituals, little treats, and traditions that make your family unique. 

Thank you again for hanging out this week and caring about how we’re working on little Kessler hearts. I hope you’ll come back for some fun hands-on activities and more next week as we continue to move fully into our homeschool year. 

Have a lovely weekend,



Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.

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