Lessons I Learned About Being A Better Person While at My Daughter’s School

by | Jun 29, 2013 | Family & Friends, Life, Parenting/Family | 5 comments

This is a little post about compliments and kindness in general… because… Well… BECAUSE!

I was walking the halls of my daughter’s school towards the end of the school year. I noticed little laminated cards on the wall near the front of the school. This one caught my eye first:

When someone has been successful - compliment them via @jennyonthespot
I was all, “YEAH! That’s a really good idea! When someone has been successful – compliment them!”

It’s not like I don’t compliment people on their success but reading that made me really think about it. It made me think about me and how I actually struggle giving compliments. I think I struggle with giving them because I struggle with receiving them (despite my helpful video on HOW to receive compliments).

I do. It really, truly is hard to genuinely receive and internalize a genuine compliment. We/I always poo-poo it, “Oh gosh, no… I was just following the recipe.” Or, “Oh gosh no… I look horrible. Are you wearing your contacts?”

Also, when I give compliments, no matter how sincerely sincere the compliment is, I feel like it doesn’t come across as sincere. Does that mean when others compliment me I do not think the compliments are sincere? Perhaps. And that’s not cool.

I kind-of think I get so caught up in worrying that the person I want to compliment will feel like it’s empty flattery instead of a genuine compliment that I say nothing and then I’ve made that person’s success all about me.

And I think that above sentence might be a run-on.

Long story short, as soon as I saw that card a specific friend came to mind and I texted her my admiration right away.

I need to write one more thing about complimenting… sometimes it’s hard too when one is jealous of another’s success. This is true for me. Sometimes I will be all smiles and perhaps give a thumbs up of sorts, but will stop short of really acknowledging their success. Because I’m jealous. That’s the truth folks. I am not proud to share it, but it’s the truth. And the truth is, seeing that card helped me realize a few things and I am working on worrying less about what others think about the compliment I am giving and more on the fact that people need to hear good things about them. There’s plenty of negative coming at people every day, I want to be a positive wave for others. And honestly, some of the people I admire the very most are people who I see work hard at building others up.

Speaking of jealousy, look for the good in a person when you feel like saying something mean.

look for the good in a person when you feel like saying something mean via @jennyonthespot
That can be SUPER difficult.

We talk a lot about gossip at home. Not gossip-ING, but about what gossip is and how to avoid it. Even when the kids share stories about kids at school, I will often highlight whether the content falls into a “conversation” sort-of conversation or a “gossip” sort-of conversation. I want to hear ALL about what happens with my kids, but if it’s seems like gossip then we cut the topic off at the dinner table and move it to a convo with just me. The siblings don’t need the dirt. Sometimes mom does, though.

There is a difference between talking to mom or dad. And it provides a great opportunity to explore the difference between informing, tattling, and/or gossip. By the way, THIS post over at Family Volley is a GREAT read for helping our kids learn the difference between tattling and informing.

And folks we all know moms can be just as bad when it comes to gossip. Dads too. I work hard not to fall into the trap, but I definitely do. Sometimes it’s just hard to put your hand up and say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be a part of this” and sometimes it just feels good to get things off your chest. Then you feel like a jerk-face. That’s no fun.

“Look for the good in a person when you feel like saying something mean.” It’s a great reminder… for kids AND adults.

Don't give put-downs via @jennyonthespot

Don’t give put-downs. Ever. I’ve noticed, and it seems especially present with the increasing YouTube culture… put-downs are pretty popular. Put-downs can be wrapped up super cute with humor. It seems to be all the rage right now.

I have never been fond of that approach in relationship. I’ve known some folks who seem to wrap every spoken notion with a cut-down and a laugh. It’s worse than a blatant put-down. Are the joking or…??? I do not like these people at all. They are no fun to hang out with. They make everyone feel uncomfortable and uncertain. Deep-down you know they are the most miserable of people. And that statement, my friends is not gossip – it is fact. They are miserable and make everyone else feel miserable.

Mama don’t have time for that.

Which reminds me, I didn’t see this at my daughter’s school, but it fits here:
Not my circus, not my monkeys

(Photo credit Esperluette on Flickr. Used with permission)

Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

Seriously. Mama don’t have time for that.

I have my own circus monkeys to wrangle and talk down from the tightrope. Some folks need to find a hobby and/or choose what hill they really want to die on. Parenting has taught me a WHOLE lot about hills and what ones are worth dying on and whathaveyou. Whether dealing with one’s own children or other adults (some adults act a lot like children)…

Choose what hill you want to die on. We are not cats… We do not have 9 lives.

Do not pass go…. Do not collect $200 dollars.

My circus. My monkeys. Enough.

Tell others what you like about them via @jennyonthespot

Tell others what you like about them. THIS CAN BE SO EASY! Because I am sitting so far in the backwoods of the internet, I see a lot of not like-ful commenting happening. It’s amazing what anonymity has done to people and healthy human-to-human engagement. Just five minutes reading YouTube or online newspaper comments will give a person enough negativity to make a stable person go mad.

Or head over to Google to find a therapist.

Our society seems to default to the negative without a second thought. What if… WHAT IF people stopped for a second and either said nothing OR took a moment to say something nice?

Or would just tell themselves, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.”

And finally… there is a time and place to be honest. Honesty is not always confortable. But let’s not confuse honesty with being mean.

Tell others what you like about them via @jennyonthespot

Try to make others feel better when they make mistakes. This one is hard for me. Especially when it comes to my kids and husband. I am a teacher at heart, and it’s very hard for me not to be all, “SEE?! I TOLD YOU SO!” (Honesty at work!)

I actually suck at this concept. I don’t necessarily set out to make my family feel bad, but if there is a teachable moment, I can’t let that pass, right? “If you had OBEYED ME and WORE YOUR SHOES OUTSIDE you would not have LOST YOUR TOE!”

That kinda stuff.

My husband has set a great example for me in this area. He is so easy going and gracious.

I could stand to be more of a comfort than a teacher sometimes. Or a lot of times. This was a good reminder.

I graduated from schooling many, many years ago. Who knew I still had room in me for a bit more learnin’.

But I think I know it all now. Yay me!


Which one of those sticks out the most to you? Are you good at complimenting others? Is it hard to stay our of gossip? Do you feel it is easier to leave an “honest” comment on line as opposed to actually saying something to someone’s face?


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