My kids frequently get on each other’s nerves. Often times when I am asking one of them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that is annoying their brother or sister and to not do it in the future, I get the response, “I wasn’t TRYING to bother her/him.” My reply to that is usually, “Yes, I know, but I am asking you to try NOT to.” In other words, I am asking them to be more conscious of what they are doing and how it impacts others around them and then make decisions accordingly.
A good analogy would be when we are driving, we are supposed to be aware of all of the other drivers around us and how our actions will affect them and vice versa. If we were to suddenly change lanes on a highway during rush hour without signaling, that might cause a chain reaction of people hitting their brakes and maybe even cause an accident, so that’s probably not a wise decision. Obviously, there are those people who do not drive defensively and think they own the road. They probably live the rest of their lives that way too. (I think how people drive definitely says a lot about them as a person, but that’s another topic.)
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people have difficulty navigating through life thinking about how their actions impact those around them. It’s a whole mindset that some people have and some people don’t. And it can involve everything from not picking up after oneself to making someone else be late to how we speak to one another. Often times we don’t intend to hurt someone’s feelings, insult them, make them feel frustrated, cause them stress, etc., but we do. When this happens, we need to try to understand things from the other person’s point of view and see that we may have done these things even though we didn’t intend to at all.
Once they are brought to our attention, we need to try acknowledge that and then try not to do them in the future. It is even more frustrating and hurtful in my opinion when I have brought something to someone’s attention that bothers me or hurts my feelings, and that person continues to do that very same thing repeatedly. I know people can’t change overnight, and I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, but even making a little effort to consciously NOT do things that they know will bother me is appreciated. It shows that they care about and respect me enough to at least try to do things differently and are conscious of how their behavior affects others around them, which I think is an admirable quality.
I don’t expect my kids to develop this skill or mindset on their own because kids tend to be self-absorbed. It is something they can learn over time though if it is modeled for them and brought to their attention. Adults who have this mindset always impress me and catch my attention, so I hope my kids will eventually be able to impress others with this quality too.
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