Let’s face it, social interactions throughout many of our pivotal years aren’t always easy-breezy. The harsh fact is that children/adolescents aren’t always nice to one another. Unfortunately, hopping on the bully bandwagon is sometimes seen as an easy way to avoid being on the receiving end. Laughing at the expense of another person is never a positive use of energy. Very often, those that feel down about themselves use harmful words and aggression toward others in a futile attempt to make themselves feel better. Teaching children respect for themselves, and others, is necessary to ensure a compassionate and caring child.
We all know that bullying is a huge problem among today’s children. With the false courage children find from hiding behind a computer, it is more of an issue now than it has ever been! Words have power that children are sometimes oblivious to, until that power is negatively directed at them. In addition to consistently setting high expectations for the overall treatment of others, it is equally necessary to explicitly teach children the importance of accepting diversity among their peers. This can include, but is not limited to, physical, social, racial, and religious differences. Your diligence in teaching your children to respect and treat others the way they expect to be treated is essential. This responsibility should not be taken lightly.
As an educator, I see daily how some children struggle with projecting kindness toward others. You must acknowledge people’s differences to enable your child to see diversity as the new “normal.” Emphasize that there is no right way to be, as long as you are being yourself! If your child is struggling with honoring people’s individuality and appreciating the unique qualities in everyone, speak to that struggle regularly. Never let unkind words about another go unaddressed. The moment you disregard negative comments your child says about someone else is the moment you affirm that the words they are using are acceptable. Instead, guide your child toward being a loving and empathetic individual by having positive conversations about the importance of being kind to everyone and standing up against those who haven’t yet learned this valuable life lesson.
- Be kind with your own words. Children mimic the behaviors that their parents exhibit. Bullying can exist among adults, so be mindful of the example you are setting.
- Set expectations for the treatment of others within your family. Sometimes behavior among siblings isn’t thought of as bullying; however, constant belittling is exactly that. This can inevitably lead to insecurities that are then projected as negativity toward others. This can begin a vicious cycle.
- Be aware. You may not see your child interact on a regular basis with children other than their friends. However, listen to how they talk with their peers about others. You can gain a lot of insight if you are actively observing.