Take the challenge to learn to parent with kindness.
When someone’s mean to my kid, my heart pounds in my ears, my cheeks turn red, and my arms start to tingle. Mama bear comes out and I get mad.
Other times my kids test my patience. They push my buttons, and the protective mama bear is replaced by a sarcastic tone, biting words, and a selfish attitude. Why am I mean to my own kids?
I need to learn to be kind.
The golden rule
There’s a golden rule of parenting: treat your kids how you want other people to treat them.
Other people get breaks from our kids. Moms don’t. We don’t send them home at the end of the day, or even at bedtime. We’re on duty 24/7, so we need extra patience to respond to everyday trials and annoyances with kindness. We need to leave the selfish, sarcastic part of ourselves behind.
But kindness is more than “not being mean.” We need to go further, to adjust our attitude to see the positive and do everything with love. We need to use our words to build our kids up. And we need to plan our actions to help our family feel loved and cared for.
Follow these guidelines to learn how to use your attitude, words, and actions to become a kind mom.
A Kind Attitude
Kindness starts in our attitude. Without an attitude of kindness, we will never be able to control our words and our actions. Begin your journey to kind parenting with your attitude
Look outside yourself to see things from other peoples’ perspectives and imagine how they feel. Use your imagination to become them, think their thoughts, and feel their feelings.
Empathy isn’t reserved for tragedies, it’s an every-day skill. When your toddler draws on the wall with permanent marker, relive the situation in his shoes. Realize what he knows and doesn’t know.
Look at the brand-new marker he thinks you bought especially for him. Feel how proud he is of his artwork. Gaze at the huge canvas on the wall and see how perfect it is for his masterpiece. Look at things from his perspective before you freak out on him.
Focus on the positive
Our lives are filled with an array of good and bad, positive and negative. The bad helps us appreciate the good. The negative gives us perspective to enjoy the positive.
But when we zero in on the bad and forget about the good, the good things go to the memory dump. They fade. When you feel yourself start to get sucked in to negativity, use a mindset check-in to set yourself straight.
Notice peoples’ needs
Look outward instead of at yourself, both in your home and out. Notice when people are struggling. Be observant to their needs, so you notice when they need a hand, a shoulder to cry on, or a friend.
Don’t discount other people’s struggles, even when they seem less than your own. Don’t place yourself on a lonely pedestal of grief and self-pity. Come down and remember everyone has their own difficulties.
You toddler couldn’t care less about your middle-of-the-night-stress, but that doesn’t make it less real for you. You don’t care that you ran out of goldfish, but that doesn’t make it any less real for your toddler.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Every action has a reason (and it’s not usually just to tick you off…usually). Don’t assume the worst in every situation. Gather info, listen to the whole story, and find the truth.
Don’t keep tabs
A running checklist of who’s ahead and who’s helped more defeats the purpose of helping. Be kind for the sake of being kind. Help people because they need help, not because you want something back.
Kindness with Words
Your words affect people as much as your actions. They can make someone else feel like a pot of gold or a pile of garbage. Learn how to use your words to make your family feel loved:
Build them up
Find opportunities to build your kids up. Point out their strengths, thank them, and acknowledge their hard work, even if they don’t quite succeed.
Use a kind tone
Avoid a sarcastic, biting voice, especially when you discipline. When I’m upset, the nastiness can sneak out. Check your emotions and try to keep an even tone. A mean tone of voice can turn neutral words hurtful.
Never cut your family down
Verbal abuse is real, and it’s painful. Never use your words to hurt your kids. Hold your tongue and walk away to calm down if you need to.
Practice active listening
Don’t have one-sided conversations. Listen to your spouse and your kids. Ask questions and engage in their conversations, even if you’ve already heard this joke 10 thousand times. Make your kids feel heard and loved. Check out this post for some amazing tips on active listening.
Be honest but sensitive
I put a pair of pants on the other day and wasn’t sure how I felt about them. So I asked my husband the question every husband hates: “Do these pants make me look fat?” If he had replied with, “Yeah, Yuuuge!” I might have stomped out of the bedroom and slammed the door.
But instead he said, “Those pants aren’t my favorite. But these other ones look really good on you.” Instead of feeling put-down about a sensitive subject, I felt complimented and I got the honest feedback I was looking for. I felt good!
Constructive criticism aims to help build people up, never to tear them down.
Be Kind Through your Actions
There’s more to kindness than words. We need to use our bodies, our actions, to be a gift to others. Here’s how we can be a gift to our spouse and our kids:
Do small things with love
We need to do our everyday chores, our endless to-do list, with love. Stop helping your family grudgingly, and do it out of kindness. Use mindset check-ins to keep yourself on track.
Do nice things for your kids, not because you have to, but just to make them feel loved. Surprise them with a little gift (my kids love balloons from the dollar store), go on a special date, or share a meaningful smile and a hug.
Notice others’ needs
Offer help and support when you see someone in need. Don’t always wait for people to ask, show your kids how to offer help without being asked. How to try to make other people’s lives easier. How to be kind in something as small as telling your friend when she has spinach stuck in her teeth.
Be an example
Let your kids see you doing acts of service and caring for the less fortunate. Find appropriate ways for your family to give. I’m not suggesting opening your house to strangers or picking up the homeless from street corners.
Instead, organize a playdate where everyone brings an item for the local food pantry. Where the kids make Christmas cards for the elderly. Where they make care packages to drop off at a soup kitchen.
Have courage to do the hard things
Discipline your kids, even when it’s difficult. We discipline to help them grow into happy, healthy adults. We’re not exacting revenge. Discipline with kindness and gentleness to help them grow.
Take the Challenge
We have a new resolve and great ideas for how to be kind. But we need a plan to make it happen.
Let’s make a plan. Join me in a Kindness Challenge! This challenge uses concrete steps and reminders to leave the nasty person behind and become a kind mom.
Step 1: Prepare and learn.
Print out the materials. Hang the main reminder on the fridge. Hang the small ones around the house, wherever you need reminders most.
Step 2: Start fresh every day
Wake up and get ready to be kind. Treat each day as a new day, no matter what happened yesterday. Read the printable on the fridge and think of concrete ways to improve today.
Step 3: Pause and remind yourself throughout the day
Throughout the day, look at your reminders and try to win the small battles. Use mindset check-ins and calming techniques to keep your emotions in check.
Step 4: Look back every night
Every night, take a minute to look back at your day. Be thankful for all the good moments! Apologize for mistakes. If you had conflicts with your kids, spend some extra time with them. Give them your full attention. Listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. Read them a book, rub their back. Do something to make them feel a little extra loved.
Step 5: Evaluate yourself weekly
After each week, use the self-evaluation printable to look back on your week. Check off where you excelled and where you fell short. Write your progress to see how far you’ve come and help you grow even more!
I’m super pumped! Click on the preview below and print your materials to start the Kindness Challenge with me! Let’s become better Momsters for our sweet little monsters.