For Parents, a New Look at Kindness

Is it possible to be a kind parent while also holding fast to family agreements, values and expectations?  It is. Sometimes we go back and forth between being kind OR firm with our kids. Actually, being kind is being connected to your children, while holding them accountable to the expectations of the family. In this month celebrating love, we invite you to look at ways to practice  kindness and connection. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Being present is an act of kindness: 15 minutes of scheduled one-on-one time every day. Children need to feel a sense of deep connection with their parents. The greatest gift you can give your children is to be fully present while you are with them. When you commit to spending 15 minutes a day with your children one-on-one….with no distractions, fully engaged and led in play or conversation by your child, the magic begins to happen! Have fun being with each other, valuing something that is important to your child. Stick with that 15 minutes, so that you both know that this is a special, finite time every day. See what happens over the next 10 days!

Connect before Correct. Take a few moments to enter your child’s world before you redirect or correct them. Let them know you see them. You can connect by getting on their level, using a touch, your eyes, or making a guess at how they are feeling. If they are playing when they are supposed to be cleaning up, you might say, “Wow. I think that is the biggest tower I have seen you build!  How did you get it so high? Cool!… It is 5:00 now. What has to happen before dinner?  Yes, you are right…clean up time!” When we connect first, our children feel seen, and can more likely respond appropriately to our correction.

Model Kindness. Our kids are always watching and learning by the example we set. Be intentional about doing kind things for others and include your child when you can. You might bake cookies  together and share with a neighbor, hold the door for a stranger, offer to help watch a friend’s child when they are busy or sit with a friend who is sick. These types of acts of kindness demonstrate for our kids and give them a chance to practice what it means to be kind.

Be Kind to Yourself. Mark Nepo, in his Book of Awakening, says, “…in the course of learning to be good, we have all been asked to wrestle with a false dilemma: being kind to ourselves or being kinds to others. In truth, though, being kind to ourselves is a prerequisite to being kind to others.” To be the best parent you can be requires that you have had sleep and have nurtured yourself regularly. It is only then that you can have reserves to draw upon for when you are asked to be a patient, even-keeled parent. What is something you can do this month to show kindness toward yourself?