Posted by Elizabeth Handal on 3/8/2018
Raising Kindness Warriors
Listen actively (non-defensively) . . . then problem-solve. (Modeling empathy)
When your child shares with you an experience, troubling feelings, or is really upset, as much as possible, set aside all distractions and actively listen. This helps them feel seen and heard.
- Let what they say and all the accompanying feelings be in the room for 90 seconds.
- Say: “Tell me more about that.” “Anything else to add?” This shows them you are with them no matter how big the feelings.
- Validate and empathize. “That must be hard.” “I can see why you were so angry”. “I would feel really sad too if that happened to me.” When feeling understood, more tears may be shed and we can be in that moment with them.
Problem solving too quickly can leave them feeling unheard or even that they should have solved this problem before coming to you. Feeling heard, seen and validated helps our kids to access their problem solving skills. They may still need guidance, but will be ready to move on to solutions after feeling heard.
- Develop self-awareness: notice if your child’s experience triggers your own feelings, stay aware and remain present for your child.
- If you feel yourself tensing up when your child shares a big feeling, or recalls an event that is upsetting, try mindful breathing and stay present with your child. Ask yourself “what is my best parenting-self in this moment?”
While we may feel we need to rush to our child’s defense, or right any outrageous wrongs, we help our kids access resilience when we listen and stay present with them.
- “Let’s all do 5 acts of Kindness a day”. Take time as a family to recount the day’s kindnesses. This helps develop the habit of kindness. (Compliments are a great place to start)
- Focus on processes instead of outcomes. “Your team looked like you were having fun when you worked together & gave each other high-fives.”
- Point out and celebrate your own mistakes & failures. “I’m learning too”. (combats perfectionism)
- Look for the “why” behind others unkind behavior. Rather than labeling others as “mean” ask aloud, “I wonder if all is ok?” This models compassion.
- Demonstrate maintaining boundaries while also being kind.