With three teen boys in the house, the testosterone is off the charts. Even the dog is male. There is an abundance of wrestling, bodies crashing through drywall and ESPN on continuous loop.
Yet, there is also an undercurrent of gentleness that I work hard to cultivate every day. And the reinforcement is not in the words “Be Kind” but rather it is in my actions.
I find it is easy to bestow random acts of kindness upon strangers and we do plenty of that. We volunteer our time through church and the community. We keep excess food in the car at almost all times so we can hand nourishment to those begging at stop lights.These are gestures-- large and small--that my kids can learn from.
But, I believe it is the way we treat each other here at home that matters the most.
Because if you can practice kindness with the people you spend the most time with. The siblings who get on your last nerve. The parent that makes you long for being 18 and on your own. The kids who are conspiring against you. Well, then the rest of the world will follow.
And it begins with me.
These are the little things that I think make a difference:
- Say thank you to them even when they are doing things that are expected and ordinary—When you are 12, sometimes the effort of putting the dish in the sink really is just too much. Tell them you appreciate it.
- Circle back around and talk—No one is perfect including me. I return to a situation and talk to the kids about how we could have handled it better.
- Be on time—sounds odd right? But most of being kind is existing outside yourself and your needs. Being on time is considerate to others
- Don’t use sibling rivalry as an excuse—Kids bicker about everything, all day. But I draw the line with name calling and hitting below the belt. Both are punishable. And by punish, I mean an immediate apology and a listing of 5 awesome things about the offended sibling.
- Recognize kindness-- If one of my kids does something particularly kind I make sure to catch their eye and let them know I saw it
Raising kind children starts under our roof and by our example as parents. It's not easy but the high road rarely is.