“I said, ‘Hush your mouth!’” Yes, these were the actual words of my 7 year old to his younger brother as they were playing together not too long ago. I called him to me and began my lecture, “We don’t talk that way to each other. It’s not kind. You don’t hear me talking like…” Then I heard that still, small voice, A-hem. Yes, they do.
Ever been there? I have. A billion times, it seems. And the count is rising daily. Kindness in speech. Easy to talk about yet, so hard to live out. I knew I was not being a good steward of my words. So, I began asking God for His help with this one. The next day, I was reading about the Proverbs 31 woman, a passage I had read many times. A phrase literally jumped off the page straight into my heart. It was as if I’d never read it before. “Kindness is the rule when she gives instruction…” vs. 26 (New Living Translation).
Kind instruction. Quite literally- building kindness into my kids. Blessing them with my speech. I began to ask these two questions: What does this mean for me? What does it look like in my home?
The answers came quickly. Kindness is ultimately my choice. While I have certain “triggers” that tend to stir up unkindness in me, it is ultimately my decision. The “triggers” aren’t an excuse for unkindness (disobedience). He also let me know that had begun making it a habit to put kindness on the back burner, justifying my harsh words; especially to those little blessings in my life—my four kids.
Now, I’m a tangible person. I needed desperately to find a way to remind myself of the truths the Lord had revealed to me. So, I wrote “Kindness is the rule when she gives instruction” on sticky notes and put them in prominent places-my kitchen sink, my bathroom mirror, the playroom wall, and in my van.
I still need the constant reminder to live out kindness by:
- identifying, evaluating, and dealing with my own “triggers”
- praying before I say anything, especially when I’m frustrated
- carefully choosing my tone of voice
- correcting without yelling (otherwise known as a “mommy temper tantrum”)
- focusing on my children’s behavior, not attacking their character
- avoiding sarcastic remarks
- relinquishing the need to control every.little.thing.
- answering “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” (please repeat 20 times to get the full effect) with patient kindness instead of an exasperated “WHAT?!?”
- using my manners: “please” and “thank you” go a long way
- asking forgiveness when I blow it
Am I saying I’ve perfected instructing my children with kindness? That’s a big, fat NO! I’ll probably never “arrive” in this area. But I can say with confidence that I am striving to make kindness my rule by first letting it rule in me.
How about you? What are some ways in which you seek to model kindness in your instruction?
Becky Spence is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings (ages 7, 4, 2, & 7 months). She is passionate about teaching, specifically literacy. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. You can also join This Reading Mama via Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.