Welcome to this week’s edition of Mindful Mondays, where we explore ways to bring greater presence to ourselves and our parenting. This week’s topic is one that’s easier said than done: choosing kindness.
Lately my toddler has been having accidents. For months, he was the epitome of toilet-training success. He was even staying dry overnight. But for the past few weeks, he’s been regressing. Cleaning up after each of his accidents, I’ve grown progressively less patient, and found myself yelling at my little guy, venting my frustrations — loudly.
But I soon found myself growing frustrated at someone else… myself. Because yelling is easy. It makes me feel good in the moment, like a high-calorie snack, only to leave me feeling empty and guilty moments later. It’s much harder to practice empathy; to consider my son’s feelings and, even in a (literally) crappy situation, choose kindness. Kindness isn’t a personality trait. It’s a hundred small choices made every day, often under difficult circumstances. It’s choosing to pick up my son when he’s made a mistake and help him, instead of raising my voice and making him feel worse. It’s choosing to give something to someone I love, even when I’m deflated and feeling like a failure.
Being kind is hard sometimes.
And so, I decided to make a change. The next time my son had an accident, I got down to his level and said, “I know Mommy has been has been angry, but that’s not fair. I’m not mad at you. I’m going to help you.” I realized his accidents coincided with his transitioning out of his nap, and so I’ve created more opportunities for him to rest. I remind him to go to the bathroom (even when he insists he doesn’t have to). And, each day he stays “clean and dry,” he gets a sticker for his sticker chart. He’s been proudly earning stickers almost every day.
Choosing kindness is work. It doesn’t come easy like yelling or turning away from someone who needs help. But as I discover every day trying to be better for my kids, the hardest work is the most rewarding.
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