Children definitely learn by example. That’s one of those ideas I truly believe, yet, have some difficulty acting on consistently, especially in trying situations. Can you relate?
I’m not perfect; life can get tricky, days can feel rough, my kids sometimes may all come off of the bus in a singularly sour mood, I may get home from work exhausted and grumpy…there are countless events, both minor and sometimes significant that crop up in life, that can make acting as a role model for basically all waking hours (and some sleeping ones!) pretty hard.
I tell my children that the most important character trait they should continuously aspire to is to be kind. This extends to their interactions with each other, as well as peers, other family members, and adults.
Kindness in our household includes, but is not limited to:
– Including everyone in play.
-Using kind and respectful words.
-Using strategies to feel just right, if needed.
-Being flexible in play, work, and when interacting with parents/teachers.
-Standing up for what’s right, even when it feels hard.
When an issue crops up between siblings, after the use of strategies to calm down (if needed), one option we give them is to simply go to one of our reminder canvases of our family rules, and write or sketch collaboratively their ideas of what kindness means to them. Here’s an example:
I see my children watching me as I interact with my own peers in my community. I know that they are studying every word and gesture. My words and actions will affect them far more than any verbal cue of “Be kind!” Or “Include everyone!” They are not only a reminder but an incentive to further develop and grow as a person.
I’m pretty quiet-didn’t know that about me, did you? Well, I want to model for my children the ability to approach others with kindness and friendliness-something that was extremely difficult for me as a child, and is slowly getting easier as an adult. ☺️
Let’s expand this to be a bit more general: This current post goes back to the post that I wrote last week: difficult times and moments in life are temporary (even when they feel as though they are everlasting). Moments, memories, and life events happen so quickly-it’s hard to savor them all (yep-even the hard ones; those trying times in my life have helped shape me into who I am. I’m sure many of you could say the same.)
In one of those trying times in your life, where you know in your heart that you want to model the correct behavior (but it feels too difficult in the moment)- if you are able to use a strategy such as taking a good deep breath, or taking space in a nearby room for a minute to get yourself to feel better enough to handle that situation well, you’ve done it!
What makes you feel happy, peaceful? Call on those tools or strategies and use them in those moments if you can.
And please, please, remember: nobody is perfect. I feel as though we are living in a society where there is an emphasis on perfection-so unrealistic. We are all just trying our best. 💚