By LOYLA LOUVIS
For Montclair Local
In “Mother Matters,” parenting and life coach Loyla Louvis, AACC, provides parenting tips. She is dedicated to eliminating frustration in the parenting journey by customizing solutions to fit the uniqueness of each family. A mother of four children, she is experienced with single parenting, remarriage, home education, mentoring and teaching. Louvis runs Mothers in Training, LLC, and is a certified professional parenting consultant/coach. More info can be found at coachloyla.com.
In the sweetheart month of February, Hallmark took center stage capturing with words the sweetness of love between family, friends and lovers. Richly scented roses, decadent heart-shaped chocolates and glittering gifts of gold and silver found their way into the hands of those we adore, hoping to communicate in some tangible way what words sometimes fail to say.
Although these tender tokens of affection are meaningful and appropriate for a Valentine’s Day tradition, there are few gifts of greater worth to a mom than the intangible gift of kindness, expressing itself through honor, respect and everyday acts of courtesy.
Ironically, it is ofttimes a mother’s lament that her child may offer schoolmates, teachers or complete strangers the courtesy of kindness, but leave these same pleasantries behind upon entering the house. Some moms, to their dismay, have come to find themselves being greeted by a book bag plopped in the doorway, a jacket carelessly tossed toward the coat rack and a flippant “What’s for dinner, Mom?”
If kindness is not on the radar in the sweet space of the home, or only shows up at random times, there are still many ways to cultivate this winning attribute. So, with a view toward raising a child who embraces the courtesy of kindness, let’s consider the following:
- Start with positive thinking. Expressions of kindness do not ensue with compliments, the giving of gifts or sharing one’s possessions. They begin in the thought life, making their way from mind to matter. A question such as, “Tommy, are you thinking kind, positive thoughts today?” trains a child to put this attitude on his mental radar. Your little one will quickly discover from a gentle reminder that authentic kindness begins with intentional positive thinking.
- Talk about the benefits. We have all experienced the pleasure of being the recipient of someone’s kindness. The brain releases feel-good endorphins when on the receiving end, but it is equally experienced by the person extending this virtue. Explore the physical, mental and emotional pleasure of the moment when this courtesy is being offered and when it is being received. The chemical release of endorphins provides a strong incentive to adopt this positive character trait.
- Celebrate all efforts. The fragile ego of a child relies heavily on your praise and encouragement. Embracing kindness as part of one’s identity takes time and maturity. Until it becomes part of a child’s personal makeup, your celebratory words, such as “I was thrilled to pieces today when you shared your snack with Jenna! You are such a kind person!” is the sunshine and water that causes this attribute to take root
- Accentuate positive recognition. Inevitably, people will notice the praiseworthy acts of kindness that flow naturally from your child. When comments are made by others expressing gratitude and pleasure, savor the experience the moment it happens, and then again later in the day. A comment such as, “John, did you notice how that woman smiled and thanked you when you opened the door for her this morning?” reinforces the desired behavior and solidifies this virtue at a time of day when hearts are open, and conversations flow freely.
The courtesy of kindness may find its expression in short supply toward family, and it may manifest only at random times and places. When an effort is made to intentionally think positively about others, not only is the feel-good flood of endorphins experienced, but the effort is celebrated as others notice this honorable characteristic. A solid foundation for kindness can become part of the family identity and a gift for all to enjoy.