Start With Kindness Mini Series Day 3
Sometimes in the whirl of ideas on how we want to parent, we just need place to start. The 100 Ways to Be Kind to Your Child list gives lots of starting points, but this three day series has been about the very basics – place to start with kindness to yourself and your family.
Over the last couple days I've told you about my realization that I needed to let go of how I thought parenting would be so I can be present with my family. This was my first bit of kindness. The kindness to myself of letting go of some of the guilt about not being perfect.
I talked about how, for me, getting out of constantly being in survival mode meant that I needed to stop trying to hold on to so many possibilities at once, and instead look for the most simple things I can do. I wrote 100 Ways to Be Kind to Your Child to remind myself of these simple ways to be kind.
I began practicing letting go of how I thought it would be, and was more able to be present with my family. The first step in being present has been learning to listen better – we covered a mistake I made with that yesterday.
Today I'll tell you about the other half of creating open communication – forming the foundation for a strong relationship with your kids for the rest of your life.
The Go First Method
You're doing half the work by making habits of listening during the day, but you can listen all you want and if your kids aren't talking it won't do you much good. So how do you get kids talking and sharing with you?
You have to model sharing and telling about your life. When you go first and tell about your day, your thoughts and feelings, you show your kids what you want them to do, and kids are amazing imitators.
“I talked about my day, my feelings, and they echoed me, from the time they could speak at all.”
Being in relationship means a back and forth. As you share, you give parts of yourself and your child learns that in your family it's safe to share and people will value what you say.
A mother to grown kids told us this on the Creative With Kids Facebook page:
My “Mr.35,” “Mrs.32,” and “Miss 28” still talk to me daily, even though they are in different parts of the country. I never “questioned” them. I talked about my day, my feelings, and they echoed me, from the time they could speak at all. I notice the same with my grandson. If you foster the sharing from the beginning, they usually grow up sharing. ~Abigail S.
Sure enough, when I decided I'd start sharing about my day first, before asking my kids about theirs while we drove home from school, I found that my son opened up more.
Not only that, I quickly realized why my kids often give bland answers. It takes some effort to put together a narrative about our day! Regularly sharing with my kids helps me remember that this is a skill that takes practice. It felt awkward at first to find ways to tell them about my life apart from them, but I'm getting better at it.
I'm not suggesting you begin an unhealthy reliance on your child as a therapist, but merely the friendly sharing of parts of your life.
I get so used to being the Mom. Doing my Things. Growing a Business, Writing, Making Lunches…. When I share parts of my day it invites my kids in a little. It says “I'm human too.”
What will you share with your kids today? When will you “Go First” and model sharing?
I'm really excited tomorrow to be able to finally introduce my new poster of the 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child. These past three days have delved into some of my favorite parts of the poster, and I know many of you are wanting a visual reminder of some of these simple starting points on being a connected parent. I'll be opening the cart for pre-orders tomorrow, look for that email!
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Thanks for taking part in this mini series – I've gotten so many great email with people telling me about how this applies to their lives. These small ideas can make huge differences! I'm so thrilled to hear about the work you're doing in your families! Thank you so much for the inspiration. -Alissa
UPDATE : Poster now available!
100 Ways To Be Kind to Your Child Poster now available. Pre-Order Sale April 11-18