The Spectacularly Easy Thing You Can Do to Raise Kind Kids
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and all across the country, we've seen schools and families participate in wonderful anti-bullying events and activities. But what we know for sure is that in order to really and truly impact bullying statistics, we need to flip the conversation and teach our kids how to be kind.
As the parents and teachers in our kids' lives, we have the power to teach them what they need to know about in-person and online kindness. These game-changing conversations start with us.
Cara Natterson, MD, is The New York Times bestselling author of The Care and Keeping of You 1 and 2 books and the expert behind the Parenting Through Puberty Master Class from Vproud.tv and HelloFlo. Dr. Natterson is a big proponent of keeping the lines of communication open with our tweens and teens, and she says that the secret to doing this isn't as hard as we may all think.
Dr. Natterson says,“Actually talk to your kid. What that means is, if they ask you a question, answer it. When your child asks you a question, they're engaging with you. They're telling you that there's something that they need to know. They're taking a moment of their time to try to engage with you. So answer the question.”
This is key. So if our kids ask us about anything related to bullying and kindness, we need to answer them. And if they share anything about these topics, we need to bite our tongues and listen. And until they do, we should consider bringing these conversations up with them directly.
We asked seven moms what they most want their kids to know about being kind online. Take a look at their thoughts and see for yourself how absolutely within reach online kindness is when we all agree to work toward it.
Nanea Hoffman is the founder of Sweatpants & Coffee. She writes, she makes things, and she drinks an inordinate amount of coffee. She is also extremely fond of sweatpants. She believes in love, peace, joy, comfort, and caffeinated beverages. Her work has appeared in Role/Reboot, The Washington Post, and Modern Loss.
Nanea says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is that it makes them cool. So often, children join in on meanness not because they enjoy hurting others, but because they are afraid of being different and becoming a target themselves. I want them to know that kindness is leadership, and strength is cool.”
Paula Chapman is a writer of personal essays and her story, The Heritage Doll, was published in the Mamas Write anthology in 2014. She has performed some of her pieces at LitCrawl and The Mama Monologues.
Paula says, “One thing I want to teach my kid about being kind online is to be thoughtful each time before hitting the enter button and ask himself, ‘How would I feel if someone said this about me?' “
Vikki Reich writes about the intersection of contemporary lesbian life and parenthood at her personal blog Up Popped A Fox and publishes VillageQ, a site that gives voice to the experience of LGBTQ parents. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner and two kids, who provide the soundtrack of her life, which involves more beatboxing and improvised pop songs than she ever could have imagined.
Vikki says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is to lead with compassion. Everyone has feelings, and I want my kids to try to see situations from the other person's perspective, even when they've been hurt.
“I want them to understand that our words and actions impact others — sometimes in ways we don't intend. The same is true for everyone.”
Jordan Rosenfeld is the author of seven books.
Jordan says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is when you can't look someone in the eye, in the flesh, it's a lot easier to be careless with your words. Always remember you're still interacting with living people online and their human feelings.”
Shell Roush blogs about mom life on Things I Can't Say.
Shell says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is to think about this: Would they say the same thing in person, with me listening to their conversation? If not, then they need to choose different words or to simply walk away.”
Meredith Spidel blogs at The Mom of the Year, where she dedicatedly earns her title one epic parenting fail at a time, offering quick, relatable laughs for fellow parents of the world and all their empathizers.
Meredith is a conversation creator at VProud.tv, and she has been part of several best-selling anthologies, including I Just Want to Pee Alone, I Just Want to Be Alone, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth, and Clash of the Couple. She has been a staff writer at Aiming Low and has been featured on prominent sites such as Huffington Post, BlogHer, In the Powder Room, Bonbon Break, and Scary Mommy.
Meredith loves her role as the Executive VP/Operations Manager of The BlogU Conference, and when she's not breaking up fights over Legos and juice boxes, she remains fully committed to sharing a less serious look at the world of parenting. Follow along with her for more parenting fun on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Meredith says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is if you're given a chance to touch someone's day — online or off — use it for good. This life is short; bless those whose paths you cross. And remember: there's people on the other side of the computer who will always love you for exactly who you are.”
Melanie Sheridan is a Lifestyle Blogger and Social Media Manager. She lives in San Diego with her husband and son.
Melanie says, “One thing I want to teach my son about being online is that what he posts is never private, no matter what privacy settings he's put into place. If he would be embarrassed to have his grandmothers, coaches, teachers, college admin, or future spouse read something he's posted online, perhaps he should think twice.”
Heather Davis is a momma, a writer, and an oversharer. The author of five books, Heather has found herself as the ham in the sandwich generation. Her website is www.Heather-Davis.net.
Heather says, “One thing I want to teach my kids about being kind online is that it's not an option. Being kind, online or in real life, is an expectation I will always hold tightly for them.”
Cyberbullying isn't all that different from the bullying of our youth. But with the Internet as the vehicle, the frequency and the intensity of it is overwhelming.
Dr. Natterson says, “When I was growing up, bullying was typically relegated to the school day and the few hours after school when kids would continue to interact. But by the time you got home, you had a break. I am not defending bullying in that form, but it occurred in spurts, and there was almost always a respite.
“Today, largely thanks to texting and the Internet (especially social media), bullying can continue 24 hours per day, seven days per week. It can come from known persons and complete strangers. It is relentless, and the consequences of that are profound.”
This intensity is one reason that Dr. Natterson's Master Class includes a section dedicated to technology and to why flipping the anti-bullying conversation to one of how to raise kind kids is so very impactful.
What do you want your kids to know about online kindness?Read More