When children act up in my home, their behavior is called out. Sometimes they get grounded or lose privileges. They know why they are experiencing consequences. Their misbehavior has been recognized by an adult and by them. We believe in accountability and that actions matter.
Growing up in today’s world has to be hard. Children are exposed to harsh realities and sometimes even very grown up things at a much younger age. Where are they supposed to put their feelings? How do they store their worries or anxieties? Usually they act out. Most often children do not really understand what they are feeling and sometimes it comes out as misbehavior or being ugly to an adult or sibling.
The same recognition given to misbehavior in my house is given to kindness. The same child that loses television for not listening may earn it back by being kind to another child. The same kiddo who broke a rule last week may receive a dang, near parade for sharing or helping their brother with homework.
Kids are exposed to an incredible amount of sarcasm and are living in a world that values the last word. They see leaders make fun of others. They hear smack-talk on Fortnite. Children go to school and have arguments with bullies. Sometimes they are celebrated for being the bullies. What is that teaching them to value?
My point is that applauding kindness is a priority in my home. I may take no nonsense when it comes to house rules or fighting amongst siblings, but I also celebrate every kind thing they do. Not only do I celebrate it, I try to participate in it and even enable it.
Jaxon shares his snack at school, so we send extra snacks for his buddy. Sadie often reads with her brothers in the evenings, so we make sure she has extra time to watch her favorite shows. Heck, we even let her sleep later than the boys do on school days. Ryder loves giving goodies to his guests, so we make sure to have those things ready for him to give. Carmen works to break gender roles for other girls in her school, so we make sure she has every supply she needs to do so.
I want to cheer for an act of kindness the way I would a homerun or a perfect solo. I want to encourage kindness the way that I would brushing their teeth or finishing their homework. I want to celebrate kindness the way that I would a birthday. I want kindness to be so engrained that it is the first thing the children pull from their arsenal. I want it to be habitual.
Kindness and positive actions deserve the same, if not more, attention as those misbehaviors. It has been said that the most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your home. When I consider all of the ugly that these kids are exposed to in the world, it only makes sense to try to realign their values while they’re at home. It starts here.
Mama, you are their biggest cheerleader and lifelong fan. Those babies care deeply about what you feel is worthy of celebration and praise. While it is easy to give attention and focus to a child’s misbehavior, I hope that you also give focus and attention to the remarkable kindness they are showing. If our most important work starts at home, imagine what we can do together to make this world a kinder place. Kindness is absolutely worthy of applause. Let’s give them an example. Let’s celebrate and cheer. Let’s give them a standing ovation.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.