Widsom and Musings

Kindness Culture at Home

{February 23, 2018}

Today I set out to create a kindness culture in my home.

It started with my four-year-old telling me that nobody likes her. She’d been showing some really concerning behaviors at school, constantly in trouble and moving down to yellow – most of the time because of meltdowns over seemingly minor things. Things like the art teacher helping someone else ahead of her, when those scissors just wouldn’t cooperate. Other kids getting chosen to be leader or nap champ or the like. But when I asked her why these things make her upset, she said “because nobody likes me.” What looked like jealous rage to adults really was a frustrated little one wanting to feel important.

As I reflected on the dynamic of our home over the last several months – the harsh voices, the disrespectful tones, the bossiness, the fits, the general anxiety demonstrated in my kids’ behavior at school – I just felt really saddened by the realization that my kids probably weren’t even sure if I like them. Yes, they are my babies and the little loves of my life. But am I so caught up in parenting four kids and surviving from one end of the day to the other, in taking care of fully dependent toddlers, that I have forgotten to tell my big kids that I LIKE them?

Why, yes. Yes I have forgotten to do that.

The realization hit me full force at 4am the other morning and I lost a full two hours sleep over it (which of course meant that I fell back to sleep 10 minutes before my alarm!).

My kids don’t know I like them.

I run all over them with my agenda, and the constant raised-voice chorus of “hurry up” and “I don’t have time for this mess!” Constantly redirecting my oldest daughter to do this or that to help with babies, without ever saying thank you or telling her she did a good job.

So, last night I decided to turn things around and to be KIND to my kids today. I started last night, by intentionally writing out a whole page of things I like about each one of them: talents, qualities, character traits, appearance…all of it. Even qualities about their personalities that I have seen beginning to develop that I want to fan into flame. Then I woke them up this morning and read those accolades to them.

You should have seen the smiles!!!  Addy, my 6-year-old, absolutely thrives on words or affirmation. She giggled and grinned through listening to her entire list, and then took it from me and read it all again – twice. Jilli curled up in my lap and just sighed – the kind of happy sigh that says “I’m safe. I can breathe.”

I didn’t have one single issue out of either one of them over getting ready for school this morning.  They were so ready to work hard and keep the happy mood going. They obeyed and moved quickly, they hugged me every time I walked by, and they chattered happily all the way to school.

Friends, it makes such a difference when our kids know that we LIKE them!

They love to know WHAT we like about them, rather than just correction for the things we don’t really care to see again.

Kids need to feel encouraged – and I’m not just talking about the fake smile and applause when our kiddo is involved in something that is really outside their skill set. They can smell false.

They need to be encouraged…

And so today I have begun a kindness culture in my home toward these babies and we had such a good day.

What will this culture look like?

It will look like showering my kids in genuine compliments.

It will look like speaking to them as people who feel their emotions really big.

It will look like loving them on purpose.

It will look like being their biggest cheerleader.

KINDNESS. It matters.

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