Kindness is Contagious: Getting kindness wrong gives us a chance to make it right
I often forget what a tough spot my kids are in each day. I send them off to school and ask them to be kind, but sometimes that gets confusing.
When the teacher is talking but a friend is trying to get your attention, what is the kind solution? When you’re trying to do your work but a classmate has a question about your math assignment, what is the priority?
We see it as adults, too. When we have a work project that is due at the end of the day, but a co-worker needs some direction on his own task, how accommodating should we be?
Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it wrong. The same is true for our kids. Unfortunately, we don’t always know the right answer until it’s over. So then what?
I’ve recently learned from a boy in my town of Aberdeen, S.D., that even when situations get sticky, we can still go back and make it better.
Brady Moon is in sixth grade now, but back when he was in fourth grade, he got into a bit of a pickle. A rambunctious classmate began trying to draw Brady into his foolery. Brady has always been mature for his age, but the lure of peer pressure was getting to him. Brady’s teacher specifically asked him to try to ignore the boy during class time, but one day he ended up joining in.
Brady got a bit of a “talking to” and went home that day feeling lower than low. He apologized to his parents and to his teacher, but then he realized he needed to confront the situation head-on so he could prevent it from happening again.
He wrote this letter to his classmate:
I want you to know that I’m your friend. Let’s not make me or other students laugh, because it’s disrespectful to our teacher. I already know you’re a pretty cool and funny friend, so you don’t need to make me laugh in class. I want you to work hard and learn as much as you can. I will help you if you need it. I’m proud of you when you work hard. Would you like to play football with me? You’re a really great classmate and friend!
I’m not sure what the reaction of the student was, but I can guess. Words like “you’re a pretty cool and funny friend” and “I’m proud of you” go far regardless of our age.
I do know this letter deeply affected Brady’s teacher. She took a picture of it and continues to carry it with her. That’s why she could share this story with me two years after it happened.
Yes, sometimes we get kindness right and sometimes we get it wrong. I’d say getting it wrong might even be better than always getting it right, because when we get it wrong, we are given the opportunity to really make things right.
Get it? Got it? Good. Now let’s go live it.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.