A simple tool I like to use with my kids is the command “rephrase”. It’s such an abrupt word and throws whatever train of thought you are on at the time off the track. That is what makes it so powerful. So when my children speak to each other, their parents, or whomever they are addressing in a way that is flat out rude, disrespectful or unkind, I use it. Turning to my child I say, “rephrase” and sit and wait. When they were younger this “rephrasing” took a little bit more time. I might have to make suggestions on how they should rephrase their rude comment or let them try, only to hear myself saying “rephrase” to the next sassy line out of their mouth. As usual with parenting, the hard part is trusting the process. Most of the time I just want to call out the behavior and throw a threat in there, “That was so rude, we may not being going to the movies if this keeps up!”. Only there is no reflection or chance to self correct as children so very much love to be able to do. By saying to them “rephrase”, we all pause and the realization of the unkindness they showed is revealed. Plus, I am giving them their words back and an opportunity to choose new, better words, because we all know you can’t change something you don’t have control over. Now when my daughter shouts, “MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!” I say, “rephrase” and I know what will come next. A pause, a look, and then something like, “Could you please move so that I can get by?”. Or if my son says to his sister, “You are so stupid”, with an incredible eye roll, I say “rephrase”. This usually gets answered with something like, “Ok, I’m sorry. You’re not stupid, it’s just that video you made me watch was really boring.” The bigger lesson here is that kindness begins with you, the parent. By using “rephrase” (instead of yelling and punishing), I’m showing a kindness to my children that they feel and understand. In turn, they are comfortable and in control enough to open up their own kindness to others. Kindness can definitely change the world, and it starts at home.
Model, model, model. We strive to keep our eyes open to opportunities throughout our day to help those around us. A woman needing help with her groceries at the grocery store, a child needing help up the ladder to a slide, and we praise for such help and for noticing on their own. We model and talk about good manners…Table manners since often other people see us eat, showing respect to others with yes ma’ams, and yes sirs, looking people in the eyes when talking, saying their names, and shaking hands. We often say “to get respect you must give respect”. We keep our eyes open for ways to volunteer. Our church offers many ways by helping our women’s shelter that trains and prepares women for job interviews and provides basic needs, as well as with a program that mentors families going through a hard time.
Parenting is hard. In fact, sometimes it downright sucks.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how sometimes, just sometimes, parenting is freaking awesome. Like when you take your kids (all 3 under the age of 12) to a really, really nice steakhouse. You know the kind… linen napkins, more forks than your entire family uses in a day, wine glasses for water, candles lit to illuminate the purposefully dim interior. And you’re kinda worried that maybe you made a mistake bringing the *kids* here. But while you’re there, something amazing happens. They. All. Behave. Every last one of them. And that’s not even the best part. No, the best part comes when the elderly couple, who gave your family the stink eye when you walked in (no doubt upset that their nice, romantic dinner was about to be upset by unruly children) walks over to your table smiling down at your 3 kids. It happens when those older folks tell you and your husband how amazed they were that the kids had sat so quietly, had used nothing but the best manners that so many kids nowadays fail to learn. It happens when they compliment your kids, and you and your husband, on accomplishing something that they claim is a dying “art”. It happens when they tell you you’re doing something right and that your kids have just given them hope that our country isn’t so far off the beaten path as they thought.
My kids didn’t get how much that meant at the time, but they do now. We explained to them how being kind to the other patrons, as well as our waitress, and using their manners and treating each other how they wanted to be treated made an impact on how others view them. It showed that elderly couple that by our kids being kind to one another, they could set an example for people around them to stand up and take notice. By my husband and I teaching our kids to use their manners and think of how other people feel before they act a certain way, or say a certain thing, or pitch a certain fit, they, even at such a young age, are showing others how far kindness can go toward making people feel good about the world.
The golden rule stands firm in our house for this very reason and is the number one way we teach kindness in our home… Do unto others as you’d have done unto you. And that makes up for all the hard days.
I’m a stay at home mom to 4 beautifully amazing blessings! I try to raise my kids to be strong, compassionate and humble. I send them off everyday with a mission, a mission to serve others. To do something nice for someone, with out expecting anything in return. The hope is the more you do this, the more people notice and hopefully do the same. Then while we are eating dinner I ask them to share how they served someone that day. I get a wide variety of answers from I picked up the pencil they dropped to I asked a girl to eat lunch with me that was sitting alone. I use all events good or bad that happen to them a teachable moment. So they hear things like, “It feels good when you help someone and they smile doesn’t it?” or “I understand that hurt your feelings and I’m sorry you had to experience this and this is why we would never do this and hurt someone else, right?”
I’m so proud of my kids and all the great ways they come up with on their own to show kindness but I wanted to do more. I wanted to create something that I can look back on and say I made a difference; I was part of a change. A change to better the world for my kids, my future grandkids and hopefully kids you know. This is how The ChatBot Game™ came about. With the help of my kids (because who knows better what kids deal with then them) we came up with a trading card game designed to create teachable moments. Its a tool to help kids learn how to handle and talk about difficult situations including bulling and just how to be a good friend. Learn more about the difference we’re trying to make by visiting http://www.thechatbotgame.com
I focus a lot on kindness with my kiddos. And I feel like one of the most effective and logical ways to teach them kindness is to be a good example of it. Not only do I put forth effort to be kind to them (although sometimes it’s quite difficult – ha!), I also show kindness to my husband and our animals on a daily basis. Trust me, there have been times when I wanted to literally kick our big dog in the butt when she did something bad. But I knew that even though I can control my physical impact and not actually hurt her, my kids may not interpret it that way. I also try to avoid having any real heated discussions with my husband in front of them. Our kids are still very little and might be scared or stressed out by witnessing an argument. We’re not perfect, and we have definitely had cross words in front of them. But I usually do a good job of keeping us adults in check so that our little ones see kindness and love the majority of the time. I truly feel that when kids are surrounded by grown-ups that show kindness to each other, it not only teaches the kids how to be kind, but it also creates a peaceful and positive environment for everyone to dwell and thrive in.