I am a huge fan of Money Saving Mom so when I saw Crystal’s advanced review of this book I was immediately interested. I also happened to be really upset with my threenager at the time (Goshhhhhh!!!) and felt so disappointed when I saw that it hadn’t released yet. I like to think that I am generally nice to my kids, but I of course lose my patience and temper just like everybody else. I knew The Kindness Challenge would be eye-opening for me and I felt for some reason that it would really help mend our relationship.
First of all, this book was awesome. It had a lot of great information in it and, as she mentions at some point in the book, really does deserve to be a full book instead of one quick blog post or something somewhere. There are so many different pieces to this puzzle that really should be touched on. Just as I suspected, it was very much eye-opening. I thought my brand of unkindness was mostly just speaking shortly when I feel overwhelmed or have my feelings hurt. That’s still true, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I also tend to show exasperation/irritation too much (like with exasperated sighs), have an issue with exaggerating negative feelings (feeling like someone is being meaner than they are, like a whole day is ruined because of a tiny argument, etc), and I was really sad to discover that I can sometimes (not always) be harsh when pointing out mistakes.
As I was reading it I kept thinking of other people I wanted to try the challenge on… not necessarily because our relationships were bad, but simply because I felt like it would make them even better.
I am still a firm believer in it but I do think it’s hard to do this challenge for a child. Even though I was being really mindful to correct him gently and with kindness, he’s currently in a place that requires a lot of correction. Hitting his sister, breaking house rules, talking to us with a mean attitude, etc, are all things that need to be addressed.
During the first week I would just dread every time he needed to be corrected! Partially because I was so sick of correcting him, but also because that would change the tone of the day and then I would find myself working with a brick wall. No matter how hard I tried to praise him, speak positive to/about him, and find little ways to be kind to him, he was still talking in a mean way and generally discouraging me.
I have a feeling this is because I had reacted unkindly in the past, even without knowing it or recognizing it as an unkindness (silly, really… if someone had be sighing at me all the time my feelings would have been really hurt!) and he had his guard up because of that. Things started to get a lot easier during the second week and now that we’re done, I feel like things are so much better! He’s still being three-nager-y, but now he’s also apologizing afterwards. I don’t expect him to handle his emotions perfectly (he’s learning how to do life from a mama who can’t handle hers perfectly, after all!) but I do expect him to try, and to apologize when he messes up. Right now he’s doing both so I’m pretty darn content.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I think it will help improve really any kind of relationship—a friendship that’s feeling off, a parent-child relationship, bosses/co-workers, and even and especially marriages!