25 Ways to Teach Your Child About Gratitude During the Holidays & Beyond | 4GK Martial Arts
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Danna Davis

My 6 year old son has been attending Ninja class at 4GK since August 2018. He loves it and I do too! He loves the skills and games and I love the discipline he is learning. I’ve spoken with a child-behavior doc about what he gets to do in class and the doc was *thrilled*. It’s clear that he believes in the philosophies Sifu and Miss Heidi teach about the importance of play and physical activity for children for all aspects of their development.

Jen Robinson

I took a kickboxing class and it was amazing. I was so pumped and ready to take on the day. Everyone was super nice and the routine was so much fun I would definitely recommend and be back for more!!!

Laura Miller - Owner, Little People's Center reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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Had the pleasure of visiting Heidi at 4GK Martial Arts and observing both her EARLY SKILLZ for children ages 3-4 and MOMMY AND ME class for children 18 months and up. The children are guided through the basics of martial arts with hands on gross motor activities set at their own individual pace. It was a pleasure to see.

Di Trudden reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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My daughter completed her first group class tonight and I could not be a prouder or happier mama right now! Heidi Burmann and Raquel made Lily feel welcome and were so patient with her as she was learning the kicks and routines. I am so happy that we discovered a healthy and fun new hobby for Lily! If you are looking for an affordable place where your little one can learn and grow then 4GK is for you!

Everyone knows I have been on my own little health journey creating Our Mommy Movement and finding new ways to exercise. I signed up for kick boxing classes through 4GK and am really excited to try them out! Seeing how patient and kind the staff was with Lily I don’t have to worry about being surrounded by people who will judge me while I try to keep up with the moves.

Tina Dos Reis reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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Great school and awesome team! Everyone is extremely friendly. My nephew Sebastian just loves his Extreme Skill class and after watching the team work together, I decided to try the kickboxing class. Frank put the entire class through a great workout! I can't wait to lose weight and build muscle. It's just the change I was looking for! Thank you 4GK!

Jennie D'Ambroise reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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Great school! Adult kung fu classes are approachable for all levels. You will learn a lot and you will work hard. Sifu and your fellow students will help you to improve and you will make great friends. Kickboxing classes will also kick your butt. Women, train here, you are welcome at all classes and the atmosphere is friendly and supportive.

Tommy Aliberti reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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This has always been a home away from home! Very much a family, and I have been part of this system for 18 years! Great values, hard work, and many lessons to be learned every time, which I have taken with me in the ring, and in everyday life! 5 Star recommendation!

Donnie Keegan reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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My daughter has been studying here for, two months shy of, three years. She still loves it! I my self have decided to join. Love the staff. they are constantly innovating and improving,both the structure of the school and its teachings. I can only hope to improve myself to the degree in which my daughter has been improved herself! Absolutely top notch school!

Rachel Ramsey Weir reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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We have had a great experience in the last year that our son has been attending 4GK. He has become more disciplined in his actions, his body has been strengthened and he knows the rewards of hard work. The dedication of the staff is evident in each class. It is clearly a labor of love!

Cheryl Anne reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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Fantastic staff !!!!!!!!!! Fantastic fun classes, they know you're name, they know how to make you work while you happily sweat toward a better you !

Katie Bacigalupo reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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LOVE the kick boxing class! It is such a great work out and fun at the same time! I always feel great afterwards and can't wait to get back to the next class!

Michelle McCann reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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Great atmosphere, awesome staff and incredible workout! Love it!!

Victoria Ingoglia reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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I absolutely love the atmosphere. It's clean, friendly n very challenging. I've given some awful dirty looks while stressed n I get high fives later. High intensity fire burning workouts keeps me motivated!!

Rebecca Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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4GK is excellent! I signed up my son for Basic Skillz just a few weeks after his 4th birthday. He loves coming to class to see his fellow ninjas and I really enjoy watching him learn new skills. In a short time, I had already noticed a behavior improvement while in a group setting and the two half hour classes a week are perfect for his attention span. Thank you Miss Heidi and the rest of the staff for your patience and influence on Neil.

Dawn-Marie Francois reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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The school is great!!! Classes are manageable and they push you to do your best. Staff is friendly and patient.

Frank Gil reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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I wanted to make a change in my life. I was stagnant, not active and unhappy honestly. One day my brother and friend convinced me to take a class at 4gk. That was years ago and thousands of punches and kicks ago and I love it every bit now as I did that first class. The instructors are amazing, knowledgeable, and were always willing to work with me at my level. I've spent a lot of time here and find no matter how my day has been I can't help but smile when I walk through the 4gk doors. It's a great environment for people who want to challange themselves and grow and there is no place else I'd rather be

Roseann Wander Walsh reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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I absolutely love it there. Everyone is very welcoming and make you feel very comfortable. I've done kickboxing at several other place and all the people there were very clicky I am very comfortable here and would recommend it to everyone.

Kimberly Lago reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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My oldest daughter has been coming here for a year. We fell in love immediately after seeing how wonderful the staff is with working with children of all ages. My second daughter was dying to be in a class also. As soon as she turned 3 we gave it a try and she has blossomed. Seemingly shy I was curious to see how her first class type activity would be. She loved it. Just waiting for daughter number three to be old enough because she is only two, but already feels like she belongs. We absolutely love it.

Shannon Marr reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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I love this place. Everyone is super friendly and makes you feel like a part of the family. I get constant encouragement to keep going. And when I had sprained my ankle and couldn't come for awhile, they worked with me financially and kept sending me encouraging messages to take it easy and get better. I get the best work outs and never any judgements.

Leianne Marques reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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4GK is an awesome school. The entire staff treats you like family. I take the kickboxing and skillz fit classes. The encouragement and motivation you get from the instructors makes you feel like you can achieve your goals, do anything you want, even if your first instinct is to say no when they all you to do something. I accomplish something in every class and have learned to think yes I can instead of there is no way I can.... the instructors break things down so you can easily understand each move. Everyone is made to feel important and special in each class, no one is left out. I can't imagine going anywhere else.

Linda Cummings reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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We just started the mini skillz program a couple of months ago. I admit, after being in the free play, no rules music program for the entire spring, my 2 yr old granddaughter was starting to rebel against listening. The first day of class I was almost in tears after five minutes when I realized how bad her behavior had gotten without structure. I'm so glad I stuck it out though. The second class was a joy, with her listening intently and using her brain. Miss Heidi has the patience of a saint. She is also on top of age appropriate skills and stresses them at each class. We've learned taking turns, following direction, jumping, kicking and punching, and many, many other useful things. She loves going to her class twice a week and I truly love taking her. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wonderful people and this fantastic school to anyone.

Danielle Hulse Maloney reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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My two sons have been coming here since December 2016. They absolutely love it & have THRIVED since coming! The older one suffers from anxiety & general fear, he has since built up tremendous confidence & has learned to verbalize any issues he may be having. The younger one is a ball of energy that needed direction & a release, he has achieved focus & better listening skills. The staff is AMAZING! They are welcoming, accommodating & listen to any issues you have whether it be with them, the class or your children. I could go to any of them & speak with them about ANYTHING & feel very comfortable doing so. Si Fu teaches the class in a low-key, fun manner that has the children engaged AND having fun at the same time, it's not the typical militant style. We received a military discount since my husband is a former marine AND ... They run a monthly themed Parents Night Out that gives parents a break without their kids from 7:30-10:00! I am thrilled that we found them & highly suggest to anybody looking for a martial arts school to check them out!

Yaoska Fleming reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great team! My daughter loves the school. She has learned so much since she started a year ago. I am so happy I found this place. I am so grateful for Ms. Heidi, Sifu Mike and all the team. Their love and dedication is shown in every class. Good job!!

Neil Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
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I highly recommend 4GK to anyone considering Martial Arts for their children or themselves. The staff has been doing an amazing job with my 4 year old son. He has a safe and fun outlet for some of his endless energy supply and the staff do a great job keeping all of the students involved, active, and engaged in the classes activities. My son loves it and looks forward to it every week!

Christina Annessa reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We just started a month ago and my kids are in love & can't get enough of it. Everyday they ask do they have class. Its great for all ages and I really like that they split them up. My daughter is 5 and is learning age appropriate skills while in the next class my 8 year is learning different things. The staff is super friendly and always accommodates our needs. I absolutely love the fun nights they do as well, the kids get to hang out & have fun while I get to relax a bit a home. Overall very satisfied with this program.

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25 Ways to Teach Your Child About Gratitude During the Holidays & Beyond

25 Tips to Help Foster Holiday Gratitude

The holiday season can be a frenzied time of shopping, presents, and sugary foods.  It is important that we help our kids navigate the whirlwind of temptation and indulgence by helping them to learn about gratitude, and why we actually celebrate holidays.  A strong sense of gratitude has been shown to be an important indicator in future success and happiness, so all the more reason to foster a strong sense of connection and thankfulness during the holidays and beyond.

Here are 25 tips to help your kids, no matter their ages, to learn about and demonstrate their gratitude:

  1. Limit TV Time before the holidays! You can’t control advertisers from marketing to your kids – but you can control how much exposure your kids have to those advertisements. Limiting how much time they spend in front of the TV will limit (not eliminate) the exposure they have to all of the latest and greatest ads intended to woo our kids.
  2. Christmas gratitude calendar. Christmas can seem like a relentlessly materialistic season, with decorations appearing in stores earlier every year and a barrage of ads everywhere you look. One antidote is to make a gratitude calendar, similar to an Advent calendar. For each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas, an Advent calendar has a little door for kids to open to reveal a message, a toy, or a chocolate. The gratitude calendar has 24 empty pockets. Each day, kids take a small piece of paper, write on it something they’re grateful for, and slip it in the pocket. It could be a lot of fun to spend time on Christmas Day reading through all the things everyone’s grateful for.
  3. Manage the gift expectations. Talk to your kids about their wish lists and have them force rank the gifts they love the most. Then – set a limit. If you’re celebrate Hanukkah – one gift on each of the 8 nights makes it easy. If you celebrate Christmas – set a limit – either in the number of gifts for younger kids or a dollar amount for older kids. Try to make an agreement with extended family to purchase only one gift per child. (This can be tricky – but if the whole family is on board – they may be more likely to go along.)
  4. Make a Christmas GIVING List.  Spend time talking about each person in the family or extended family.  Think about what each person likes or might enjoy.  Encourage the child to think beyond the physical gift, perhaps about hobbies (grandma likes to bake), or about life events (Uncle bob misses his dog that died last year).  Work with your child to come up with neat ideas that match each person and make a list!
  5. Focus on the real meaning of the holiday. Gifts are one part of the holiday experience – but teach your kids about WHY you celebrate that holiday. What does it mean to your faith? Why are gifts part of the holiday and what do they represent? Then – shift the focus to giving. Spend the majority of your holiday preparations on the joy of giving to others. Encourage your kids to create gifts for family and friends – or give non-material gifts like coupons for breakfast in bed, a weekend of yard work, a back massage – what ever would be meaningful to that person. Adopt a family through your place of worship or school and get everyone involved in making the holiday more special for that family.
  6. Have them put one thing on their Christmas List that money cannot buy.  Love, friendship, world peace.  Then get creative about how you make that thing happen (donation to a matching charity, helping at the local soup kitchen, joining a new meetup group to make new friends, adopting a child through an international outreach program, donating a heifer)
  7. Role-play HOW to show gratitude. Practice the words to use when someone gives them a gift or shows kindness. Help them practice showing gratitude for the thought or the effort behind the gift, not just the gift. “That was so thoughtful of you to find something pink because you know that’s my favorite color.”
  8. Slow down the gift exchange. While some families enjoy the chaotic, paper-flying frenzy of every child opening gifts simultaneously, a more civilized approach to family celebrations allows everyone to admire the gift and gives the recipient the time to truly appreciate the gift and to thank the giver.  Gifts are distributed to the recipients, but go around the room opening one at a time. This gives gratitude and good manners a fighting chance, and it allows you the opportunity to savor the moment of generosity among your loved ones! If you want extra credit, you can use the role-playing you did yesterday to help your child find one thing about each gift to mention as they say thank you.
  9. Have them send handwritten thank you notes within 1 day of receiving a gift.  Sorry, but emails don’t cut it! Provide training on HOW to write thank you notes. Set a minimum number of sentences for their thank you notes…example – 2nd grade: at least 2 sentences. 3rd grade: 3 sentences.
  10. Be Grateful for them being Grateful. – As parents, part of our job is to catch our kids doing the wrong thing so we can provide them lessons on how to make better decisions. In addition, try catching them when they do the RIGHT thing.  Next time they say thank you without having to be reminded, praise them.  To make a stronger impression, don’t praise the action, praise the quality they demonstrate.  For example, instead of saying “Great job saying thank you,”  try something like “I love how you said thank you without being reminded.  That shows me that you are a person who really cares when people help you, that you are a person with amazing Gratitude.”  This helps the child recognize WHY you are praising them, but also starts to associate their own self view as that of a grateful person.
  11. Limit gift giving throughout the year. Abundance Paradox: Your kids will be more disappointed by not receiving the gift they want than they will be happy for receiving the gift they want.  Kids who have everything don’t appreciate gifts as much. Be very careful of overindulging your kids throughout the year. We recommend that parents buy new toys/stuff only on holidays and birthdays. Other than that, kids over the age of 4 might have an allowance and pay for their own toys. During the holidays, limit the number of gifts for each child. The more gifts they receive, the less special each one becomes.
  12. Count your blessings as a family.  Make counting blessings part of your mealtime ritual or bedtime ritual. As kids get older, encourage them to keep a daily gratitude journal. Being intentional about gratitude is a daily reminder about how lucky we are.
  13. Sponsor someone in need. – Help your children see the needs right around them. Select a child from an Angel Tree, and help your child pick their gifts. Your school’s counselor and local foster care agencies will also have a list of children who could use a little Christmas cheer. While it is easier to shop for these gifts without the kids, take them along and talk about the importance of caring for those in need. I double my impact by working with local charities to support the kids of local military members who are deployed, or who made the ultimate sacrifice.
  14. Let Teens take the lead.  Christine Carter, a sociologist and happiness expert at the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, points out that teens need to break away from their parents. Every time they take your advice or instruction about how to foster gratitude they are, in some ways, remaining dependent on you. (They want you to recognize their ) So how do you both encourage gratitude and promote independence? Carter recommends letting teens lead family gratitude exercises.  Tell your son, for instance, that you’d like to find ways of promoting gratitude – for yourself as much as anyone – and ask him for some suggestions on how to do that. Essentially, let him design the family gratitude project, whether that is journaling, dinner conversations, or anything else. She also suggests bringing gratitude into conversations about challenges. Ask your teen whether anything good came out of a bad experience at school, for instance, or whether there was anything he learned from a fight with his best friend. Don’t be preachy here; the point is to engage with respect, but to also subtly introduce the notion that despite negative experiences, there is still much for which to be grateful. And remember, resistance is your teen’s developmental job. Try to be grateful for it. Really.
  15. Let kids SEE how lucky they are.  Ongoing lectures about “you don’t know how good you have it” only makes their eyes roll. Get out into the community with your kids and serve food in a soup kitchen, adopt a family during the holidays, or visit kids who are in homeless shelters so they can SEE how fortunate they really are. . It’s simple math: The more time you spend thinking about others, the less time you have to think about yourself.  If you already live a service lifestyle, perhaps a small gift related to that service might be in order, for example, a t-shirt with a related graphic, or a Pandora bracelet with a charm related to your particular charity.
  16. Model gratitude. Take time to show gratitude yourself. Thank your kids and your spouse for their helpful and thoughtful acts. Show random acts of gratitude to the cashier, the person who makes your coffee at Starbucks, and the dry cleaner. Modeling gratitude yourself will make your kids more likely to adopt an attitude of gratitude.
  17. Help focus and support kids to achieve intrinsic goals.  It’s very easy for people, especially youth, to pursue extrinsic—or materialistic—goals such as desiring or having possessions that show wealth, status, or convey a certain image. This usually leads to less fulfilling social relationships and forecloses prospects for developing deep connections with others and genuine gratitude. It’s our job to steer them away from pursuing extrinsic goals and toward pursuing intrinsic goals, such as engaging in activities that provide community, affiliation, and growth. Not only will successfully achieving these goals fulfill children’s fundamental human needs of competency, belongingness, and autonomy, but their personal development, happiness, success, and gratitude depend on it. To amplify their gratitude even more, remember to savor their accomplishments with them along the way, and encourage them to thank those who’ve helped them meet their goals.
  18. Send a care package.  There are many local charities that send care packages to veterans in need or to active duty military serving abroad.
  19. Give Experiences instead of physical gifts. Think about taking the kids to see a Broadway show, or getting horseback riding classes, signing them up for martial arts lessons, or even making a new tradition of taking a family road trip to find the perfect tree. Memories will last long after the toys have hit the landfill! This also reinforces the child’s ability to look beyond the gift-wrapped box under the tree.  Need an idea?  Maybe giving the gift of martial arts is right for your child 🙂
  20. Give the gift of ATTENTION.  Holidays are often times of, hustle, bustle, and family reunion, and kids tend to be lost in the shuffle, or sent off to play.  Be sure to provide kids your undivided attention when they ask for it.  Help them feel included in the family bonds.  Let them hear you praise them, preferably about qualities they display rather than the results they get.  This helps reinforce those qualities in their own sense of self.
  21. Recognize the cost.  For a child to be truly grateful, researchers have found, he or she needs to understand that someone intentionally bestowed some benefit on him (whether that’s a new toy or a cooked meal or homework help from Mom), and that the act involved some cost to the giver (i.e., Mom really could have done something else with that hour she spent working on math problems). This one might sound tricky to parents. It seems like a bit of a downer to start lecturing about how hard Grandma and Grandpa worked during their lives to now have the money to buy a new winter coat for Junior. (And they walked uphill to school both ways!) But there are ways to point out to your kid that others have, in fact, gone out of their way to help her. (“Wow, it’s really great that Nana came to visit you this weekend. I know she had to take a couple days off work, which is challenging for her, so she must really love us.”) Gratitude, as Prof. Robert Emmons,  a University of California, Davis psychologist and leading researcher on gratitude, has written, is both the affirmation of goodness in the world and the process of figuring out where that goodness originates. Recognizing that other people are making an effort to bring good to us is at the heart of gratitude.
  22. Say thank you with cookies.  Prepare and deliver a homemade “thank you” to your local fire or police department, or your pediatrician’s or dentist’s office.
  23. Pay it forward in the drive-thru lane. For older kids, use your own money to pay for someone else’s meal. Some local diners have programs where you can pay ahead for a coffee or meal and local homeless can come in to take advantage of the gift.  If you can’t find one, here’s a great entrepreneurial lesson about networking:  Work with your child to talk to local establishments to see about starting such a program.
  24. Christmas Tree Scavenger hunt.  Create a list of things one might find around the holiday neighborhood: A house with all blue lights, a Nativity, Rudolph, Santa on a motorcycle, a Menorah, Frosty the Snowman… then drive around the town checking out the lights! As you do, be very careful of your language.  Make sure you talk about how much effort people put into their displays, how great it is that people do this for our enjoyment, ask about which house was their favorite, which display took the most effort, why people put in so much effort in the cold months.  Also work into the conversation how great you feel having everyone together.  Don’t forget to check off those lists!  Celebrate the winner by having them select the place they think the most family members would enjoy from which to get some hot chocolate, or by having the winner be the one to make the donation to the Salvation Army bell ringer.
  25. Make a video thanking everyone.  Help your child make a Facebook or YouTube video thanking them for helping your child show more gratitude.  At the end show extra gratitude by thanking them for watching, for joining, and for their feedback. Send the link to the video via a message, en email, or even just post it right on someone’s wall.  DOn’t forget to cast a wide circle when considering who should be acknowledged; encourage them to include those who normally don’t get thanked: the janitor at the school, their crossing guard, the garbage man.  Express your own gratitude with them to make it a family affair, and wish everyone a joyous holiday.  It will bring a smile to everyone you include!

If you got some value out of this article, and would like more parenting tips, be sure to join our head instructor’s private Parent Skillz group on Facebook!