Last night I was putting my son to bed. He got a cold, and was having trouble falling asleep. I was getting a little irritable, since I was tired too. But as I was patting his back and saying kind things, I thought of how nice it is when he does that to me.
Sometimes when I hit my toe or hurt myself somehow, he’ll come over to me and say nice things, and pat my back. Or if I am stressed out for some reason, he might come over and say, “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.” In that cute, cute voice, he has that just makes my mama heart well-up with love.
Those kind words come from me. And when I’m stressed out and irritable, when he’s being over-dramatic, when I wish he’d just suck it up, I have to remember that whatever I say to him will come back to comfort me or to haunt me.
If I tell him to suck it up when he’s crying over a cut, that’s the way he’ll treat me, when I’ve hurt myself. If I want him to be kind to other children when they are upset, than I need to be kind to him. I need to be understanding.
How would I want to be treated in this situation? If I stub my toe-a very minor injury, but one that leaves you in agony for a minute or so, what response do I want from the people around me? Not laughter that’s for sure. Not, “you aren’t bleeding, be tough!” I have a neighbor that apparently had that sort of parenting, and that’s the response he has when my son injures himself outside.
And to go beyond physcial injuries, how do I want to be treated when I’ve left my toys all over the floor for two days? Kindly. Gently. You can insist that I clean them up, but don’t insult my pride. Don’t imply that I’m a hopeless slob. Encourage me that it won’t take any time at all to clean up, and I’ll be so glad to have a clear floor again.
What we say to our children today, will come back at us word for word, tone for tone, tomorrow. And if they are too scared to talk back to us, they’ll be thinking it. I know I did when I was a kid. Kindness is the only way to treat people. And children are people too.