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One Simple Way to Brighten Any Parent's Day

Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.

Parenting Is a Whirlwind of Emotions

In my life as a parent, I've experienced so many different emotions. Happiness, frustration, love, exhaustion, joy, irritability, pride, and so much more. There are wonderful, happy days, and there are "feel like hiding in my bedroom" days. Being a parent is hard, rewarding, and very often, thankless. Recently, I learned a very important lesson: an incredibly easy way to support other parents and brighten their day. All it takes is a minute of time, and it can truly uplift someone's attitude for an entire day.

So what is it? Simple: notice something nice about someone, and pay them a compliment. I know, it seems pretty trivial, but sometimes I think people forget the value of positive words and encouragement. How can a few words really make that much of a difference? Let me tell you a story about how a stranger uplifted my spirits for a day!

Image by jannoon028 on Freepik

Image by jannoon028 on Freepik

A Big Meltdown

On a sunny Spring day, my two sons (who are 15 months apart) and I were walking into the local YMCA. They were acting like toddlers do; trying to run ahead of me, sit on the bench outside the building, dawdle, you get the picture. When we got to the building doors, my older son (almost 3 years old) pushed the button to open the automatic door. My younger son zipped past him to the second door and pushed the next button. Which should be OK, right? But for an almost 3-year-old, who definitely didn't have enough sleep the night before, this was grounds for a meltdown. A big one. He threw himself down on the floor, refused to get up, started yelling and crying, "but I wanted to push both buttons! I get to push them!" We were blocking the doorway, as patrons were trying to come in and out. Meanwhile, my younger son (who was unnerved by his brother's tantrum) ran inside to look at the pool through the lobby windows.

As I said, today was a good day. I wasn't frazzled. I knelt beside my emotional son and said "I know you're upset that you didn't get to push both buttons. It's ok to feel upset sometimes. But there are two kids here that like to push buttons. And there are two buttons. One for each of you to push."

Of course, it didn't help. My son kept carrying on, so I calmly picked him up (we needed to go chase his brother!) We walked over to my other son and retrieved him. I asked my older son to take some deep breaths. Fortunately, he was starting to calm down. I talked to him quietly a little more, and then we checked in and went to the Child Watch area. I was relieved that it didn't escalate, as it sometimes does with toddlers!

The Value of a Compliment

After dropping the boys off in Child Watch, I walked back into the hallway. A woman that I had noticed sitting in the lobby was waiting for me outside the door. She said (to paraphrase) "I noticed you with your kids, and saw how you handled everything. You were so patient! Are you a teacher?" I told her that I wasn't a teacher, but just feeling super patient today! She told me I was a great mom and that I should take the day off (jokingly, of course!) I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her telling me that. Trust me, there are many days I wish I had more patience, times when I'm frustrated and overwhelmed. I'm not a perfect parent, no matter how much I try. So having a total stranger see me do something well, then actually take the time to come talk to me, really made me feel good. I know I ran a little faster on the treadmill that day too! Her comment stuck with me, and it helped remind me to stay patient through some other rough patches later on that day.

Support One Another

I thought about that situation for quite a long time while I was on the treadmill, and even for several days after. It was such a simple, kind act. It's so easy to get tunnel vision and focus on daily priorities and routines. But what if we looked outside our bubble, took a few minutes, and gave a compliment to someone that could use it? Receiving a compliment about my parenting brightened my day and boosted my mood. I was motivated to pay it forward and compliment someone else. It's easy to find a whole lot of judgment in the world. Especially on social media (in my experience), one doesn't have to look far to find critical remarks about someone's parenting decisions and styles. But what if there was more positive feedback instead of so much negativity? Small, random acts of kindness, like an unexpected compliment, could go a long way in making the world a little brighter!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Kristina BH


Kristina BH (author) from Iowa on May 05, 2017:

Thank you! I couldn't believe how much those simple words meant to me. I truly appreciate your comment!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 05, 2017:

That's a great story. I'm sure you were encouraged as you wrote this article, and you also encouraged the parent reader. I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion.

Kristina BH (author) from Iowa on May 04, 2017:

Thank you! I completely agree with you. Small encouragements can make a big difference. And thank you for your words of encouragement on the article. Much appreciated!

Fiddleman on May 03, 2017:

Great article! Rearing children is not easy and any encouragement goes a long way to show empathy to parents. A compliment instead of a rebuke are words framed in gold and costs nothing. Reading this article is enlightening, good job.