On the drive to school today I opened up a discussion on kindness. That word use to be huge in my home. With foster children coming and going I was constantly repeating myself, “remember sometimes people are mean because they are sad inside”. I bought every book I could find on the subject and read them to the Littles often. My favorite “Have you Filled Your Bucket Today” became a staple in the house. The children knew to not take others anger as a personal attack and instead to try to understand why someone else would behave that way. They were usually kind to each other (usually) and would work situations out among themselves. That kindness is long gone…
They now fight often. They speak rudely to each other as well as to me. They scream, take things away from each other, and overall just aren’t kind.
I remember the promise that was made to them when the divorce was first spoken of “it’s ok, we’ll still be friends. Things aren’t really going to be that different.”
So I asked the Littles, where has the kindness gone. “You all use to be so kind to one another”, “you used to have compassion for others”, “what happened?”
From the far back of the van Tea responds ” I think the sadness has made the kindness go away”
And with that I’m crushed. Duh that’s why they aren’t kind. Obviously, it’s what I always taught them… Being kind when you are sad in your heart is difficult. Give those people space, try to help when you can, never be mean in response. Well, again I fail. I have been punishing them for their unkindness, sadness. I don’t take them to do fun things when they are all being especially unkind. I don’t take them to the park if the day is going terribly. I send them all to separate areas and have them read quietly. I take away toys and books. I, in response to their lack of kindness/sadness (Tea pointed out), am not kind in return.
Now I sit here researching. Trying to remember all my old “go-to” resources so I can help my Littles. So I can help myself to understand and respect what they are going through. Amazon will be getting a lot of business today as I don’t have any of my old books. I need to remember that maybe when they are being terrible and mean, they need that bonding time. They need to do an activity together, play together, adventure together. I use to know all this… but sometimes you get lost in the chaos. Sometimes the screaming it too much. Sometimes your own kindness gets lost in the mess.
Sometimes it takes the genius of a 9-year-old to remind you, others might be struggling, kindness is always the best approach.
I just found your blog and this post made me cry. I have 4 kids. Ages 7,6,2 and 3 months. I have been having such a hard time with my 2 oldest lately and everybody is always butting heads and fighting. And I am always being mean back and punishing them for hurting and being sad inside. Thank you for this post. I really needed it. Can you give a recommendation of the kindness/ bucket filling books that you have/ used to have/ plan to get again?