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  • Writer's pictureDr. Luisa Bryce

Sass & Spite: Teach your kids to be nice with these 3 easy tips

The Art of Being Nice

The Art of Niceness

Ever heard the saying “Better to slip with your feet than with your tongue?” I came across this little nugget of advice on a teabag the other day. And I got to thinking about exactly why this statement rings true. Here’s my interpretation: If we slip and fall, we’re hurting only ourselves, both physically and psychologically. Sure, we may suffer a scraped knee and a bruised ego, but we’re not causing deliberate pain to anyone else other than our little old selves. However, when we say something spiteful to someone else, we usually end up regretting it eventually, even if it feels incredibly powerful and freeing the moment it spews from our mouth. And then comes the real punishment- the aftermath. Now we must not only cope with the hurt felt by the victim of our vengefulness, but we must also manage our own shame at having acted so rudely.

As a parent, much of your time is spent protecting (or attempting to protect) your child from the crude bitterness of the world. You shelter your child from having to feel the defeat of shame as often as possible, which involves teaching your child lessons such as “Be nice” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” While these are undoubtedly wonderful life lessons, how do we actually teach and model for child how to “be nice” when someone kicks him under the lunch table or “forgets” to invite her to a sleepover? Here are a few tools and tips both adults and children can try to practice the art of niceness:

1. BITE YOUR TONGUE. If you’re about to lash out with a mean comment towards someone who just said something that got under your skin, bite your tongue. Literally. Not too hard, but hard enough to send a shock signal to your brain that says, “Hey, hold on a second.” Biting your tongue sends a different emotional message to the brain (pain versus anger or sadness), causing you to feel distracted for a split second. In most instances, this is just enough time to get yourself to stop and think, “Do I really want to say this?” and “How will I feel afterwards?”

2 ACT OPPOSITE. That’s right, act opposite of how you really feel like acting. So if another mom makes a snide remark about your daughter’s skirt, instead of punching her in the face (kidding!) or uttering a nasty comment about her daughter, simply smile and say, “Thank you. It’s her favorite skirt.” I use this technique when teaching children how to handle verbal bullies, and it works fabulously because it always throws the perpetrator for a loop.

3. PRACTICE GIVING 3 COMPLIMENTS PER DAY.  Giving compliments generally makes us feel good. If we feel good and are in a positive mood, we’re more likely to let negativity slide. Click Here to learn how to give a genuine compliment.

Have a thought or opinion about being nice? Please share! How do you encourage and teach your children about the art of niceness?

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