Real Simple Mama

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Choose Kindness

I admit it. I got into a power struggle with my three year old the other day. I know it’s the “easy way out” and it doesn’t really help anyone, but I was tired and looking for the quick fix. Plus… he was being such a jerk!

There I go. Making excuses for not parenting the best way I know how. I just KNEW that trying to corner him into doing what I wanted wouldn’t work. But I did it anyway. It lasted about six minutes before my fatigued mind and exhausted heart said, “Enough.”

What I had chosen to do in this moment was to try the quick fix, by dominating and overpowering. Not only was it at the expense of my sensitive child’s fragile feelings, but it ended up being a waste of time as it didn’t yield results anyway. We were both frustrated and stressed.

Choose Kindness - RealSimpleMama

I stepped back emotionally, really analyzing the situation. He was tired and was trying to battle me. I knew he didn’t really want to hurt my feelings, and I know that his prefrontal cortex wasn’t developed enough to tell him “hey, it’s not that big of a deal, let’s just de escalate.” I needed to be the adult, and leave my pride and my desire to “win” out of it.

So I asked if he would like a hug.

And that little scowling face, with angry yet mournful eyes, gave me a little nod and stiffly walked into my arms. As soon as I held him, his little tense body just melted… and he became my sweet boy again. All I had to do was to step down from my conquering high horse, see him for who he really is (my brilliant compassionate son who was just tired), and help him. That’s what he needed me to do.

by modeling kindness in how I parent, I’m showing my child

how to be kind in an unkind world.

I want my children to see that I try to choose kindness. The example above is a searing reminder which happened recently, but there are certainly other ways in which to model kindness on the day-to-day. Our unkind world certainly could use some more examples.

We try to make kind choices when interacting with our pets, kids at the library or on the playground, and even with plants. My hubby knows not to buy me cut flowers because I hate to see them die after a few days, and I prefer my kids to just show me the beauty of nature instead of picking it (i.e. killing it). My son is learning that if we just admire a gorgeous bloom and leave it be, it will grow bigger! I love that kids are so receptive to learning about things like this.

my child will be a light in the darkness.

And I would be in denial if I didn’t write about being kind to strangers. I know there’s so much hate in the world, and part of me wants to hide away with my babies in a cave somewhere. But I can’t help but have hope for the good of people in the world, and I want my child to be a light in the dark.

We recite “a person’s a person, no matter how small” on a regular basis (Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss). We haven’t had a conversation yet about someone who looks or acts different due to a race or disability, but I’m already prepping him for it. Whether it’s a child with Down syndrome, in a wheelchair, or just a different color skin than my baby’s, I’m sure the day will come that my child asks points it out. I won’t shy away or lie or make excuses or be embarrassed. I want that conversation with my kid. I want them to know how much we all have in common, and that what makes us unique is beautiful and fun. And I want them to choose kindness towards others.

a person’s a person, no matter how small. -Dr. Seuss

I hope and pray that my kids choose their friends and spouses by their actions and choices, not by appearance. When my child introduces me to their new fiancé or points out their best friend on the playground, all I care about is “Are they a good person? And do they make YOU a better person?” If the answer is a confident yes, then they will have my blessing. Always.


  1. First of all, are you my wife’s soul sister? She apologized–out loud–to a plant yesterday for stepping on it.

    Second, great post. We have to model good behaviors as parents. If our kids are acting like jerks and screaming at us, we have to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves where they learned that behavior. First reaction will be to point at the spouse. 🙂 Second reaction should be to start talking to them like we expect them to talk to us.

    • The Mama

      December 9, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Oh my goodness yes I apologize to grass, and talk to bugs as I rescue them and put them back outside!
      I’m glad that a dad is chiming in on this post too! You are exactly right, it’s easy to be mad at a child for an undesirable behavior; however, if you really want to fix the situation long-term, it goes way beyond a punishment for the kid. (And, when in doubt, it was Dad’s fault!)

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