Amazement: Kindness

Day 1 of NaBloPoMo 2014: Married to Amazement

I have cousins who uses kindness as a cornerstone in their parenting philosophy. The parents work hard to be kind to their children, and focus a lot of time and effort on helping their children learn to be kind to others. The kids are human, tantrums and mistakes abound, but there is something really wonderful about being around them. I don’t get to be around them very often, but when I am I love to watch them interact with their kids. These cousins are the first parents I heard encouraging their child to “use his words.” As we worked through T1’s second and third years of life we repeated that phrase constantly.

I’m working to be kind. In recent years I’ve tried to eliminate gossiping about others, because I’ve experienced it being directed toward me in extensive ways and it’s not something I want to contribute to the world. I try to make sure that I’m not using ad hominem attacks in any way around my children. I get down on my knees and apologize to T1 (in my best moments) so he knows that we all lapse in our kindness sometimes, but that we can keep trying and get better.

I think T1 is very kind, and it is a very special thing to see. T2 is young, so all I can do right now is hope that she embraces the same approach.




5 thoughts on “Amazement: Kindness

  1. I think we do this too. I’ve never really thought about it in this way, but we work hard with our son (age 2) to be kind. We apologize to him when we make mistakes, we teach him to apologize when he’s ready, and his teachers at daycare tell us that he’s one of the most empathetic and compassionate kids in the room. To me, we treat him with the same respect we’d treat an adult: to adults, we say please, thank you, and sorry… and we feel like our son deserves the same respect, even if he’s only two!

    Jenna Reply:

    I wonder if you also have a similar approach to mine when it comes to addressing behavior – I try hard to address why he did something, usually emphasizing the why more than the what. Today, for example, he peeled a butterfly off of the wall in my friend’s daughter’s room. I tried really hard to think of way to address this that will help him see what he had done and how he should approach it next time. Right now we are working on the idea that he needs to ask for something before he takes it, and this instance meant I also needed to help him see that he needed to ask before he altered (not just took). I think it’s still confusing for him, because all items are relative, but it’s most important to me that he doesn’t feel driven to sneak or lie (he will lie, and it’s good evidence of his cognitive growth, but I don’t want to do things that drive him to do so).

    This might be farther along than you are in your path! T2 is a few months shy of two and right now it’s still all about redirecting. The way I react now didn’t come until T1 was at least four years old (around the same time I got into the gentle parenting stuff).

  2. I’m pretty sure we’re somewhere in the middle. Our son is 2yrs3months, and pretty aware of emotions. So we definitely spend a surprising amount of time explaining things — why he can’t do something, how a poor choice affects others (or himself), and how he seems to be feeling. He shocked me a couple days ago when I growled in frustration (because I had forgotten the umpteenth thing in the other room), and I heard him say “Mommy’s frustrated!” I couldn’t believe that he is so “with it” that he could interpret my emotion from one sound I made, without even seeing my face. We’re lucky to have him attend a childcare center whichs works hard on this stuff too, so he gets it from all sides! 🙂

  3. I’m rather confused – doesn’t everyone use kindness when raising one’s children? Unless you’re abusive, who doesn’t employ kindness? This doesn’t seem very radical at all. Not that every post and everything has to be radical, but this doesn’t seem to say much. It does break my heart that you feel you have to write that you working to be kind to your children. It’s sad that you have to work at it and that it doesn’t come naturally. Do you think that it would be different if you had waited to have children? Or am I misunderstanding what you’re saying?

    I think you doing this series is good for you – maybe it will help you align some of the feelings and worries that you have and perhaps open you up to realizing what gifts and joys you already have in your life. I get the impression you’re the type of person who sometimes dwells on “the path not taken” and maybe by going through this exercise you’ll find more peace about the path you have taken instead of worrying about what could have been.

    I remember on some comments a while back some people had gently mentioned you getting a job outside the home for stimulation, use your skills, etc. have you thought about doing that because it can be such a wonderful source of stimulation and I think you’d really like getting to know other people, especially people with different viewpoints. I think you’re eager to broaden your horizons and doing that might be helpful if you interacted with a lot of different people of different diversities.

  4. I think it is very important to teach empathy to young children so they understand other people’s emotions. From there, it is easier to explain why certain behaviour (like peeling the butterfly off a wall) is wrong, because it upsets someone else. Even from T2’s age, you can start demonstrating empathy by saying: “Look – T1 is sad. Poor T1, how can we make him feel better?” or “We had a happy visit/ a happy play,” when you leave the park or a friend’s house. You can also talk about emotions when reading books to the children. Point to the pictures, and say “See Jack is sad – why is Jack sad?” You can tell when children are developing empathy because they start mirroring the appropriate expression. When you say “Jack is sad,” your child will pull a sad face.
    This also teaches kids to recognise their own emotions so they can deal with sadness/ anger more productively than hitting out or having tantrums. And – back to your topic! – they develop a greater instinct for kindness!

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