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…to be kind

Mister Rogers once said there were three ways to ultimate success:

The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.

When working to help people move in the direction of change, the quiet strength of kindness and compassion tends to help more than any strong-arming tough love can. When helping our children learn life lessons, kindness works well, too. 

Last week, I had just reached the school drop-off line with the girls. I had a call scheduled to begin in 30 minutes, and my mind was beginning to focus on the day ahead.

Uh-oh,” I heard a small voice say from the back of the car. “I don’t have any shoes.”

I looked back to see that, indeed, Emma had no shoes, only socks – pink polka-dot ones – on her feet. Her shoes were not in the car. She looked at me, her eyes filling with tears. I had a choice – to lecture her about responsibility – or to recognize, in that small moment before speaking, that no amount of yelling or lecturing was going to make the shoes appear.

So I chose gentleness and kindness. “Well this is lucky! I get to spend a little more time with you this morning,” I said with a smile.

And so we turned around, picked up her shoes, then returned to school. She gave me the biggest hug before running off to class with a smile on her face.

And here’s the part I didn’t expect. I had one of the best days ever. I felt good about her feeling good. I felt good about our time together. I felt good about choosing kindness.

And every day since, she’s jumped into the car and made a point to say, “My shoes are on my feet today!” 

Change really does come from kindness.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.