Lifting Others Up
We are all making choices all the time. When we think of making decisions, the big ones come to mind like what kind of job to pursue or whether to start a family. Most of the time we don’t even realize how many choices we make in any given day. If we did, it would probably overwhelm us! We’re usually on “autopilot” as we move through our days, accomplishing tasks and interacting with people. But what if we were more intentional about what we were doing and what we were saying?
What if we thought about the way we treat people and decided to do or say something that would result in lifting others up? Because it’s never too early to be doing good in the world, we can teach our kids how to lift others up. Training ourselves to be intentional and thoughtful about what we say and how we interact with others is a crucial skill in creating healthy relationships. Our kids don’t really learn this in school, so it’s up to us parents to model this type of behavior and make it a point to engage our kids in this kind of activity. You’ll be surprised at the results!
Most of the work being done in the area of lifting others up or recognition is in business circles. Leaders of organizations are encouraged to recognize their employees for the work they’re doing and for who they are. But lifting others up goes far beyond the board room. Helping your kids learn these skills around the kitchen table will help them be more sensitive to others and more self-aware.
Think about how it makes you feel when someone recognizes you for something you’re doing. Recently I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the balls I’ve been juggling. The events of 2020 have put a strain on all, and I was feeling like I was barely getting by at my job. But then someone who’s a volunteer at our organization came in with a gift bag full of goodies for my kids and me. She wrote a beautiful note thanking me for what I was contributing to the organization in this tough time. It meant so much to me that she recognized me. I had been feeling frustrated, but this gesture really lifted me up and helped me realize that people are seeing how hard I’m working to make our organization better. It really energized me!
Now think about your kids and how they feel when you lift them up. Think about how they react when you recognize hard work they’re putting into a school project or a sport. How do they feel when you acknowledge when they’ve stretched beyond themselves to help out in the family or in the neighborhood?
While leaders recognizing their employees is valuable, it is important to be teaching our kids these lessons at a young age. Reaching out, being kind, and offering a kind word or helping hand not only benefits the other person, but will benefit your child as well.
The How to Guide
These interpersonal lessons require some prep work at home before heading out into the world to practice.
Talk to your child about being recognized and how that makes him/her feel. Then move the conversation to talking about how others might feel if they were recognized and lifted up. Highlight for your child that s/he always has a choice in how s/he interacts with other people whether that is a sibling, a neighbor or someone s/he doesn’t know that well. Then focus on choosing to say something that will be positive and not something negative.
The Power of Words
Next, help your child remember times when s/he experienced someone being unkind to him/her. Ask how that felt and how s/he would have liked the other person to treat him/her. Then remember times when someone lifted your child up. This may be a little harder for him/her to do since we all have a natural tendency to remember negative experiences over the positive ones. You can then highlight that hurtful words make a big impact, but repeated positive words can have just as much power.
Make a Plan
Then brainstorm about some people in your lives. Who does your child want to lift up? Why does s/he think this person needs some kind words? Encourage your child as s/he brainstorms about people by pointing out why each person might need lifting up. Emphasize your child’s ability to make the person’s day a little better with some words of recognition.
Get To It!
Now it’s time to try what you learned! Maybe your child wants to interact with someone on his/her own or s/he may need some guidance. Either way, let your child decide and reach out, but be there in the role of support staff. Afterward, talk about what it was like to interact positively with others. How did s/he feel about it? What were the results? Remember it’s okay if things don’t go perfectly. It’s all about learning how to intentionally interact with people. Some interactions will be better than others, but remember, by lifting others up your child is learning valuable lessons in how to create and sustain relationships. These lessons will help your child in all areas of life.
The Extra Mile
This exercise will have even more impact on your child if you yourself are intentional in how you interact with others. Model this behavior without necessarily calling attention to it. Think about how you treat family members and others around you. Then go the extra mile to seek out someone who could use a kind word. Your kids will notice when you thank the waitress for doing a good job in the midst of a difficult day. They’ll hear you when you tell your neighbor that his lawn looks great. They’ll understand what you’re doing when you thank their teachers for working extra hard this year. They’ll sense how important it is when you tell your partner you’re grateful for their help.
Even with good intentions, though, we can falter. We’re all only human after all. If your child speaks unkindly to someone, don’t frame it in a negative light, but instead call attention to how s/he could have done something different. Talk about how the outcome of the interaction would have been different if s/he chose some different words. Positive words can even have impact when talking about something that was negative!
HAPPÉ Life offers free, fun missions for kids to practice these crucial interpersonal and self-awareness skills. The missions are short videos that introduce concepts like lifting others up and offering kind words. To sign up, click here: https://happe.life/mission-im-possible/ The lessons taught in the missions are deceptively simple but incredibly powerful. Merely calling attention to the fact that we all have choices and can intentionally interact with one another in positive ways can truly change the nature of how your child interacts with others for the better. Knowing s/he is a true agent for positive change is a great thing!
At H-A-P-P-Ē.Life we have created programs to support the continuous development of your psychological health and well-being. We are dedicated to helping you navigate life more fully and successfully through fun programs aimed at you and your child’s social, emotional, and mental health. The Mission I’m Possible series contains short videos designed to teach kids lessons about self-awareness and relationship development. They are enjoyable activities you can do together as a family that impart valuable skills. To sign up for the Mission I’m Possible series at no charge, click here.