During a recent conversation with my son we talked about the power of kindness and how a compliment can impact someone so deeply. It got me thinking about how we all have the power to impact someone else in a positive way and that makes humans pretty incredible. While we were in the car on the way to his therapy session and he thanked me for giving him a compliment. This was the perfect opportunity to thank him in return, after all, it was in my journey to help him that I discovered my new superpower.
The house I grew up in could be rough. My dad in particular was strict and also had a few of his own issues which made him extra tough on us. As a kid I mostly kept myself in line out of fear of being scolded (harshly) or punished and that was enough for me. Sadly, this led me to believe that I had to be an authoritarian with my children or I wasn’t doing it right. It worked on some of them… but not all of them. When O started having issues I did what I do best- kick into action under severe pressure. We started with doctors and tests all while living in a sort of hell that deserves its own post. During all this time I was frustrating us both by trying to out yell him and overpower him, both of which were not just ineffective, but harmful to us all. So, I did the next thing I do best… I dove into books.
Books are my solace and my escape. They are also my amazing tools for expanding my brain and learning new things. Every provider we saw, I asked for recommendations and I got a ton. Some I knew right away were not going to help us so I quickly abandoned those and focused on others, all of which had a recurring theme. Science has proven that the best way to turn around a kid’s behavior is using positive reinforcement, not negative. WHOOOOOOSAAAAAHHHHHH. That was a hella mind shift. This was certainly not something I could achieve overnight but I haven’t stopped trying. In learning to refocus my attention I found that the complimenting and encouragement has spread to not only everyone else in the house but to anyone around me.
My kids often joke with me because I yell random compliments at strangers. I take every opportunity to compliment someone’s hair, smile, clothing… anything that catches my eye. EVERY SINGLE TIME I notice that by doing this simple thing I elicit a genuine smile. I’m sure some people may think I’m weird but no one has said anything to my face, I think mostly it can make someone happy even if just for a second.
After my recent trip to the Lunar Faire NJ (which you can read about here) I’ve connected with new people who have all kinds of different talents and it feels so good to see someone smile and light up when you compliment their hard work. It makes the pull in me to continue kindness even stronger and for that I’m grateful to them all.
When O thanked me for complimenting him I explained to him that I really owe him my sincerest gratitude. Our journey together, although tough and EXHAUSTING sometimes, has taught me about looking for the little things to encourage others. We decided then that this is our superpower and we are going to use it to bring light to others. As humans, we have so many superpowers but this one might just be one of my favorites.