Our daughter Brecklee came home from church today and said, “I think I know what every lesson at church will be about – it’s always about being kind and loving others.”
She summed up the secret of life in one very simple and uncomplicated statement.
In the fall we had to switch schools and our very social first-grader became very unsure of herself. She was throwing herself into a new world of students that she didn’t know. She had her first experience with bullies, being teased and a few other challenges in spite of being for well liked (according to her teacher).
One day after school she asked me how she could make friends.
It was one of those moments that became an unplanned parenting WIN! You know the ones where strong words of wisdom come out of your mouth and you really hadn’t even thought it through before opening your mouth? Periodically I have those parenting moments and I’m so grateful when they come – I just wish they came more often. 🙂
In response to her question and her struggles, I simply told her to compliment everyone she meets. Never hold back a positive thought you have about someone else – tell them when you think something nice. I told her that by sharing her positive thoughts, not only will they have a better day, but they will think positively when they think of her. It is hard for others to continue to be mean or rude if you are being nice to them on a personal level.
I have things I think about others about how much I love their clothes, their hair, their makeup, their parenting style. Whatever the positive thought may be, more often than not – I don’t say anything.
I started to consider why I don’t say anything. My justifications ranged from thinking that my compliment won’t mean anything coming from me, perhaps they don’t care what others think, maybe it won’t matter to them and I’m just bothering them. These seem ridiculous as I come clean and actually identify why I do speak up.
One of our family new years resolutions was to verbally be more grateful and kind. We set a goal to share our positive thoughts about others.
At dinner we go around the table and say what our favorite part of our day was. This just kind of started a few years ago and it has been something we’ve kept going. I don’t even remember how it began. But this year we’ve started sharing compliments as well as our favorite parts of the day. It has been good practice to look for the positive in others rather than the frustrations we feel.
Our 6-year-old still struggles at times with focusing on the negative, sharing things about others at school that are maybe not kind. But I usually stop her and ask her if it is positive or negative. If it isn’t something good about someone else (even if it is just a story) I tell her I don’t want to know, and I’d rather here good news about the day. Not that I don’t want to hear about her problems or struggles, but if it is negative and about another person; it is gossip. Simple as that.
Parenting is HARD! It isn’t just about teaching them to be self reliant, but trying to mold them into good people. It isn’t a short term goal, it is a lifelong challenge that will never go away. And if Rory and I are going to help them be better people, we have to practice the same behavior.
I’ve had plenty of parenting-fails in my 7-year mom career – but I hope this one counts as a win and will stick it out. Because just as Brecklee said today – everything is about being kind and loving others. I love the quote from the Cinderella movie last year that everyone referred to; “Have Courage and Be Kind.” It does take courage to be kind, speak up, and compliment another. But we have nothing to lose by speaking up.
I hope that as my kids see this printable in our home, they will remember to focus on the good in situations and in people. I recently heard another quote by Stephen Covey that said;
“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.”
How much different would we view people and situations if we paused and realized that most people have good hearts – and never intent to offend, regardless of how their actions played out.
So today, I made these two printables, to help not only me remember, but our family too – to be kind, compliment and have grace. A little kindness goes a long way. Join us on our Compliment Challenge – I would love to hear how it changes your day.
Stephen covey quote