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Kindness Can Be Counterintuitive When You’re a Parent

Kindness Can Be Counterintuitive When You’re a Parent

“Kindness is wisdom.” – Phillip James Bailey

Kindness is supposed to be simple and straightforward, right? Not necessarily. Just ask any parent about what is truly kind when it comes to raising kids, and you’ll find that a lot of it is far from intuitive. Here are few examples.

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To Help or Not to Help

Our intention: We want to help our kids succeed.

When you see someone struggling, it’s usually pretty obvious that the nice thing to do is to jump in and give them a hand. But that’s not always the best thing for children. Kids struggle with all kinds of things, from tying their shoes to navigating the social structure of high school. Sometimes, they really do need our help, but other times it’s better to let them work things out on their own. Before you leap to action, consider what your child should be able to handle at this age.

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The kind approach: If what they are attempting is age-appropriate, but they’re having a hard time of it, let them know that you’re available to help, but give them a chance to try (and even fail) before you assist. Without regular opportunities to try new things and to struggle to overcome obstacles (and sometimes fail), children can learn to be helpless and may be more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

Praise is Always Nice, Right?

Our intention: We want our kids to have healthy self-esteems and to feel that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

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Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done, and kids are no exception. So why not pile on the praise when your kids are fantastic in every way? Counterintuitive as it might be, too much praise can actually cause kids to avoid trying new things, put less effort into what they do and even fabricate the outcome of their efforts in order to continue to win praise from their parents.

The kind approach: Be moderate with praise but offer (appropriately) enthusiastic observations for every day tasks. For example, instead of telling your four-year-old: “What a gorgeous outfit you’ve put on! You must be a fashion prodigy!” You can say: “Look at that; you got dressed all by yourself!”

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“No.” That’s Just Mean

Our intention: We want our kids to have a positive outlook and to feel like their ideas are valid.

A lot of parents find themselves saying “yes” or not saying “no” far too often in an effort to avoid discouraging their kids. But sometimes, the kindest thing we can do for our kids is to say “no.” It feels particularly counterintuitive when they’re asking for something perfectly reasonable. And lots of people would argue that we should say “yes” as much as possible. But there has to be a limit, or you’ll burn yourself out and teach your kids they can have anything they ask for nicely. Unfortunately, this can lead to entitlement, boundaries that are too flexible, and acting out when things don’t go their way.

The kind approach: Consider all the factors, including safety, your own emotional or scheduling limits and what’s best for the whole family before saying “yes” to a request. Dr. Sears offers a number of creative ways to communicate “no” without actually saying the word, which can be just as effective in teaching limits and appropriate expectations.

Parenting with kindness is a laudable goal no matter how you approach it. Kindness requires a certain amount of wisdom—not only about what is happening right now but also how it will affect the future. Maybe that’s what makes it so tricky; sometimes it’s really hard to see that while eating candy right now will make our kids happy, waiting an hour for dinner is the kinder (and smarter) option.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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