This year has shined a spotlight on where we place our priorities. How can we be the best adults and parents we can be? We are role models for children, whether we know it or not, and we have the choice to set positive or negative examples. How do we weed the negativity from our gardens of life and plant more seeds of passion, adventure, and quality time with our kids? 

Here are three things that have become our addiction slowly. These things if not done in moderation pull us away from more time with our children and an intimate focus on kindness in our life. 

Here are three addictive behaviors we may have acquired during these strange and uncertain times. None are inherently “bad” if practiced in moderation, but it’s important to observe how much of our time we are devoting to them. Are we being pulled away from being present with our children? Are we setting an example of kindness?  

 1. Obsessed with the News [No News is Good News…or Is No News Good News?]

I have been ridiculed for several years for not regularly watching the news. I have had countless conversations with news junkies, many of whom have derided me for not finding  joy in always being on top of the news. Why don’t I start my day reading the paper while watching the morning news and scrolling through every news outlet on my phone? I do not need to dive into the quagmire of countless news sources and stories to learn what I absolutely must know to function as a responsible adult.  

Can I tell you what I didn’t love growing up? Watching the news! It felt like an absolute punishment. I thought news anchors swore an oath to speak as monotonously as possible. These talking heads sapped the glee out of me as they dryly delivered one negative story after another. 

Let’s look at life through the eyes of a child. I can easily remember how I felt: I was often shushed and ignored, competing for attention with this screen emitting monotony, melancholy, and negativity. I now consider my childhood “news experience” as a gift, as it spared me from picking up the habit of constant news-watching.  

Are you obsessed with the daily reports of doom and gloom? How does this sound and fury affect your young ones? Shield them from the constant barrage by dedicating a specific period of time to indulge your habit, without forcing them to be exposed. Try to find positive and inspiring news stories to discuss with your kids. What are communities doing to help others during this time? What can your family do to exhibit kindness to others?

2. Caught in a Social Media Swirl

We are all in a heightened state. I’m channeling Captain Obvious here, but during this global crisis, we’re all on edge. We all see rage, rants, and debates about every possible topic on social media. It has become a platform with fewer puppy and baby videos, and more arguments and all-out fights, leading many to take a social media break. 

Does the notion of “logging off” sound like a good idea? Maybe even necessary? Perhaps you’ve been ignoring that internal warning bell as you scroll with increased stress and anxiety. Are you focused on crafting a snarky response to someone you disagree with instead of letting it go? 

Do an audit of what you post, share, or comment on, and be honest about how much of it is kind in nature. Are you off balance? Are you focusing on the negative? How can you put more energy towards joy and kindness? Your children feel this energy in the environment, and from you. 

3. Nosy Neighbor or Debbie Downer

Maybe you feel trapped by a gossipy neighbor, or a friend who only sees the downside; maybe you secretly enjoy the hearing about the latest scandal, or volleying complaints back and forth. Regardless, neither party is helping you fill your kindness bucket.   

From an energy standpoint, these interactions are depleting you and blurring your focus. Are you exhibiting kindness if you’re talking trash? Have you chosen the people in your life consciously, or have you fallen into these relationships? The energy of these relationships are witnessed by your kids, and they see and hear if there is love and kindness coming from these conversations. 

How would your life transform if you learned to balance your news intake, be kind on social platforms, and give yourself some space from the negative neighbor or friend? By controlling these addictive behaviors, you will create space for new behaviors. Why don’t you make a conscious choice to become addicted to acts of kindness? 

Here are some ideas for creating great new habits: What can I think, do, or say today that is kind? How can I use kindness to make a difference in my own life, or that of my child, friend, or stranger? Kindness doesn’t trigger people like negative news, social media rants, or that lurking negative friend or neighbor invading your space. Our words and actions are powerful and can create change for today and for future generations. 

Be aware of how you spend your time and energy. Develop a healthy addiction: Kindness.