As parents, we strive to teach our kids right from wrong and how to be good people. If this is the case, then why is bullying so prevalent?
Many kids are told to be kind, but not taught what that truly means. Some parents might not even realize that they’re failing to do this. If you’ve never been an outcast, you probably don’t know how it feels to be constantly excluded, gossiped about or ignored.
I know many parents who emphatically teach their kids about kindness and compassion, because they were outcasts or outsiders at some point in their lives. Sadly, they know how it feels.
Teaching true kindness
If you’ve got a ‘popular’ kid – one with lots of friends and play dates; a kid with influence in their social circles at school – I would like you to ponder this…
Have you taught them to go out of their way to befriend the kid who’s always excluded?
To stand up for the kid who gets shunned, laughed at and ignored because they’re the tiniest bit different from everyone else?
To get to know a kid who no one else will take a chance on?
If you haven’t done these things, consider why. It’s never too late to start.
Lead by example
As our children’s role models, we need to “walk the talk”. Think to yourself, ‘when was the last time I befriended a new parent at school?’ Or the one who sits alone at sports practices? The one that doesn’t look like they have a squad.
There is always room for us to grow, as parents and humans.
Model the behaviours and kind actions we want our children to display
If someone you care about is hurting, don’t hide your emotions; let your kids see your empathy and compassion. Then follow it up with action. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, but they’ll see you actively being a friend. Whether it’s a phone call, a comforting hug, an offer to babysit or a plate of fresh cookies.
The more we teach kids kindness and inclusion, the less bullying there will be, and the less power others will have over them.
They will not be like cattle, following blindly, going along with the crowd for fear of themselves being excluded. They will be strong, opinionated, principled kids with the ability to stand up for others in need (and, hopefully, have friends who will stand with them).
If you have a popular kid, ask yourself if you’re teaching them how to be a real friend, not only when it’s easy and convenient, but when it’s NOT.
If you’re the parent of a child who’s on the outside, please know you’re not alone in your heartbreak. With your guidance and love, they can grow to be strong and resilient.
Every child is special, beautiful and worthy of love. ❤️