Kindness must be taught. Let’s face it, our kids are “tiny humans” just learning how to do this thing called life. If this momma, who has been around for almost 50 years, still struggles with being kind when others are less than kind or when I’m just plain tired and grouchy, then my “tiny humans” are going to struggle with this even more!
One of the mantras in our home when our behaviors turn mean or when hearts get kind of grouchy is “Find Your Kind.“
I started using this expression with my son Aiden who has Down syndrome as a tangible way for him to stop and adjust his heart. Aiden has this uncanny understanding about his dual-nature. He sometimes even talks over his shoulder and reprimands “himself” when he gets off balance. He will say, “Aiden, stop that, be nice!” So when we had some really big issues with unkindness, I would stoop down, face to face and affirm him, “Aiden you are my kind, strong, sweet and loving boy. That is who you are. Now let’s find our kind!” And we would symbolically turn an invisible dial over our hearts to turn up our “Kind” to full speed! This simple act was transforming and allowed him to take control over his words, thoughts and actions. After “finding his kind” he would then take his kindness to the person he had hurt and offer words of kindness to them.
The other day my daughter Emma got off the bus and fell apart in my arms sobbing the minute she crossed the threshold of our front door. She then went on to pour out a story that broke my Momma-heart. My sweet girl had experienced her first real bullying on the school bus. I’m not here to share the details of this painful experience, but I am here to talk about how we handled it as a family.
-First we LISTENED– we heard her story. We dropped everything to enter in and sit with her in her pain. Emma also has special needs, and communication and expressing emotion is a challenge for her. But my brave girl opened her heart, and through many tears told us everything that had happened.
-After listening, we VALIDATED her. She needed to know that it was not ok for her to have been treated that way. We needed to tell her that it was alright to feel so sad.
-Then we EMPATHIZED. This is the part in anyone’s story where we need someone to say “Because I love you and because you are sad, I feel sad too.” As our evening unfolded and older siblings came home from work Emma even asked them, “How did you feel when Mommy told you what happened?” Do you see? This is the cry of our hearts when we are hurting, “Do you hurt with me?”
-The next important step is ENCOURAGEMENT and AFFIRMATION. This is where we get to pour out healing salve on the wound. So we sat and spent a lot of time telling Emma how we feel about her. We poured out our love words. I went kind of Momma Bear crazy and posted a photo of her on Facebook and asked for my friends to send her love notes in the comments as well. My tribe came out like the amazing #lovewarriors that they are and sent hundreds of love notes, almost 300 to be exact!
-This was all followed by ACTION because let’s face it words are great, but our kids need to see and hear us go to bat for them. My kids heard me call the bus company, my kids heard me talk to the teacher on the phone, my kids watched me walk out to the bus and let the driver know my kids would not be on until some issues were resolved, my kids were at my side when I walked them into school today and make a safe path for hearts. They saw their teachers and I united in love for them.
-And finally the LESSON. Friends, life is full of hurts and pain. It just is. But we have this beautiful opportunity to learn through the pain. So today in the school parking lot before we walked our brave selves inside, we talked about forgiveness. We remembered for a moment that we make mistakes too and sometimes our own words slip out and hurt others. So we chose to forgive. Then we took a few moments to Find Our Kind. We turned up the Kind Dial to “super power kind,” and we decided today that we would smile and walk away from unkind words and unkind people, that we would look for those who are kind to spend our time, and that we would look for those who are sad and lonely to share our super hero kindness!
Would you join me? Would you start teaching your kids to “Find Your Kind”? Would you show them how to turn up the dial on their hearts to “Super Power Kind?” Let’s all take the Kindness Pledge together.
The Kindness Pledge
- I am kind and full of love.
- I will find my kind today and every day.
- When needed I will turn my kind up to super power high!
- I will smile and turn away from unkind words, and share them with a safe grown up who can help me.
- I will surround myself with others who know how to find their kind.
- I will use my super power of kindness to look for others who are sad or lonely and give my kindness to them.