What behaviors have you taught your child today? Have you tried kindness?
This is not the blog post I wanted to write this week. This isn’t a blog post I ever really wanted to write, but after a conversation with my oldest daughter yesterday, I feel like it’s one I need to write.
Our oldest daughter is in preschool. She is honestly the nicest person I’ve ever met. She is the kid that stops to help someone who has dropped something. The kid that sits next to a classmate at recess who is sitting alone. I see it in her daily and she warms my heart so much. I absolutely dread the day that something in life tarnishes her kind heart.
Yesterday, I hope, was not that day.
We were sitting in the car while my husband ran into the gas station to grab something on the way to dinner at his aunt’s house. We were having a completely typical Sunday. As I turned around to talk to the girls in the backseat, I noticed her normal smiling face was darkened. I asked her if she was feeling okay and she replied with a sigh that she was fine.
A red flag with this girl.
I rephrased my question and got a different answer. She was feeling a little sad. Her reason? Another little girl at preschool. “Remember that day that Ashley said she didn’t like me. And then she poked me in the arm? That’s got me feeling a little sad today.”
This particular situation happened a couple of weeks ago. The other little girl’s reason was that my daughter was playing with someone else instead of her. It was a very small situation that was addressed immediately and we all moved on, or so I thought. That very small situation was still stuck in my little girl’s head, and more importantly, it was still stuck in her heart. And now it was also stuck in mine.
She had met her first mean girl.
I knew this day would come, I was hoping it wouldn’t be so soon. I have known a few mean girls myself. I think we all have. I also know that a lot of the times, those mean girls grow up to be mean women. You might be working with one, serve on a committee with one, or be dealing with one at your child’s school. Often, the moms of mean girls, were once mean girls themselves.
Inside, I was all Mama Bear. I was pissed to be honest. My sweet little girl was sitting in the backseat of our car thinking about this other child’s comments. Those few words that had been spoken days before had crept into a quiet moment on our Sunday. Did I want to take a little detour on the way to our family dinner, knock on their door and give them a piece of my mind? Absolutely! Would that help my daughter deal with her emotions right now? Not at all.
Instead, I calmly explained to her that although that other little girl shouldn’t have said those things. She was, in fact, just one little girl. She does not share the opinion of all her other friends at school. She is just one person. I gave her a long list of people she had in her life who did love her. I gave her examples of all the wonderful things she is and does, and her mood lifted. We went to dinner and the conversation was left in the car. She woke up this morning with a smile on her face and happily went out the door to school.
But is it forgotten? Did her dad and I do enough to reassure her faith in herself? Did we get her to understand that one person’s words don’t matter? I don’t know the answer to that, but here is what I know.
As upset as I was with her classmate, I know that hate and negativity are learned behaviors. No child is born into this world wanting to hate someone else, wanting to ruin someone’s day or tear them down. Children are born with completely unbiased hearts and open eyes. They use those eyes to watch our behaviors. If we hate and tear down others, that is what they learn.
We need to invest more time into our children. We need to be teaching them how to be good people. The kind of people that we would want our own children to meet on the playground. People that don’t make others feel bad.
Words are everywhere.
We need to realize that sticks and stones are not the only things that can hurt us. Thanks to social media and technology, words are in our faces all day and night. But the really cool thing about words is we have the power to choose them. Each and every one of us can pick the words we use! That’s a pretty incredible power to have alone, but we can use those words to impact others too.
We have a rule in our home. We don’t say the word hate. It wasn’t a planned rule, but one day I just thought why shouldn’t that word be on the “naughty word” list? It certainly isn’t ever used in a positive way. Here is what I learned from this rule. My girls didn’t have a problem dropping the word from their vocabulary, but I did. I never realized how often I used it until it wasn’t allowed. Just a simple sentence like ‘I hate carrots’ can sway their thinking, so imagine what ‘I hate so and so’ has the power to do.
A small smile, a helping hand, a kind word can all go so far in someone else’s day. It has been said that kindness is addictive. Each time you do something kind for someone else you feel happy, your body reacts to that and wants more. The more kindness you spread, the happier you feel and the more often you do it. It is a very simple win-win for everyone!
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we were all addicted to happy? If we never had to deal with another mean girl on the playground? If we all held the door open for strangers instead of letting it slam in their face?
We all have the power to do this.