Confidence and Kindness

I'm so pleased to see so many anti-bullying campaigns across the nation and across the world. The safety of or children is so important. It seems like, to some extent, the issues have been there for years, but it's a lot more serious now. Especially pertaining to the violence that's happening in schools across the world. I'm so glad that some things are being done about it, but it's easy to feel small. It's easy for you to feel like there's really not much you can do to make a change. The only thing you can do is what you feel is right make that one small change. Let me elaborate. I hate to say we have to blame it on the parent. I'm sorry. But in a way it's true. Stick with me let me explain it to you. You cannot do much about terrorism. You're a parent. You're going to work every day and taking care of your kids. What can you do against terrorism? You're not a politician. Even if there is nothing you could do on a large scale you have to feel helpless. It all starts at home for your small contribution. We can only teach our children to be kind to others. And I'm not asking you to teach your child to be weak or to be a doormat. No. Absolutely not. We need to raise strong, confident children. That is what bullying kills.

Bullying kills confidence.

First, I want to focus on that. We might not be able to do much about terrorism, but your parenting can be huge in the aspect of bullying.

I believe that empathy must be taught. Most young children are tiny sweet and caring people, but they don't understand that their actions are causing someone else pain. I can speak about this because I worked in daycare for about three years. It was a great job. It was a messy job. It was a chaotic job, but it was a great job. I worked primarily with ages six weeks to three years. I was working with the little munchkins. When they got to a certain age some of them would become biters or punchers. They didn't understand that this biting caused someone else pain. Now, some people believe that you have to bite them back. It's not necessary. You don't have to teach them by causing them that pain. Show them that the hurt child is crying. Show them. If it's you that they hurt, you can over exaggerate it so that your child will see that their actions cause pain. Then, once they understand that pain, teach your children to be kind.

I truly believe that this must be taught. You might think that it's not necessary to say "You must be kind." It is it is necessary to say out loud. It's fine to say it every day. "Please be kind today."

On their way out the door. "Please be kind to everyone."

What I say to my children is "If you're about to say something, if something is about to come out of your mouth, think for a moment. It only takes a moment. If I say this will it make this person feel bad or make this person feel good? And if you think that your words will make someone feel bad. It's not necessary to say. Just move along. You don't have to lie. If you don't like someone's T shirt. You don't have to say it's a great shirt. You just don't have to say anything ."

It is necessary to teach these things. No matter how sweet you think your child is. Peer pressure is real. It's just a part of growing up. If someone is saying something unkind. There's a good chance, even if your child doesn't feel great about it, they will follow. How many times does a child have to be told that their clothes are ugly before they believe it?

How many times do they have to be told that they are stupid before they believe it?

Some believe that kids need to toughen up because it's a tough world. I find that really hard to follow.

A person that does not engage in negative behavior is not weak. That's what we must teach them. We do not have to engage in negative behavior. It just doesn't have to be done. It's hard in a school setting or an activity setting because they're stuck with the same kids all day. I grew up in a very small school. Everyone knew everyone's mom. There weren't very many students. I switched classes, but it was pretty much everybody just walking to another room. It was hard to not want to fit in or to walk away from a situation because it followed me all day. Now with social media kids are stuck like glue to each other Twenty four - seven. I didn't say it would be easy, but it must be taught.

So, if your child is being kind, making the decision not to engage in negative talk and negative behavior, how are they going to be strong enough if negative things are being said and done to them? How do we teach a child to rise above when it is difficult even for an adult? It's a hard lesson and it's a hard thing to get through. In order to have these conversations, the first thing you need to do is set up a place of a safe haven and open conversation. If someone's being unkind to your child, you want them to feel comfortable having a conversation with you. Make sure your child feels comfortable that your conversation is going to be exclusive. Start by building them back up.

Try this response:

"Wow. He was really unkind. That was a really mean thing to say. I'm sorry that he doesn't like your shirt. I like your shirt. That is one person's opinion. Try to avoid talking to him."

In the bullying world, it seems like the bully will pick one kid and just keep pounding (let's hope only with words) the same kid. If this becomes the case, you have to make a decision. If things become dangerous you will have to proceed to outside sources. Let your child know that a talk with a teacher or parent is necessary to resolve this. Of course, some things can never be resolved, but you have to try.

There is more to raising children than keeping them alive. Teach them to be kind and considerate.

We don't all have to be friends, but we all must be kind to one another.

That's the small step that I think we can take. And if we take the step to teach these values, most likely our children will teach these values to their children as well. And generations to come will become a more understanding society. I believe that is what will end bullying.

Mom Guilt

Mom guilt. We've all suffered from it at one time or another. So I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And here's what I've come up with - this parenting thing is a learning process. Just because you became a parent - you did not become an expert. As humans, we continue to learn and grow until we die. So please move on from whatever is weighing you down and start fresh. Don't hang on to that guilt. I've decided that we can only do the best with what we know. If you made a decision and you just did your best-  and each day there's a different scale for what is your best. Sometimes you're tired and you just say something to your kid that makes you cringe, but as long as you thought it through and you did the best with what you knew at the time, you have no reason for guilt.

I'm going to give you a couple examples to help you work through some guilt if you're holding on to it. I'm going to call my mom out here!

I really slather my kids with sunblock. My kids go to a summer day camp every day and they're playing outside for most of the summer day.

My mom said to me one day, "You know, when you were growing up you and your sister never wore sunblock and I really feel guilty about that now."

The first thing I said to her was, "If I have skin problems It's not going to be because you didn't put sunblock on me as a kid. It's going to be because when I was a teenager I was going to the tanning bed all the time." (This may or may not be true, but I feel like that is going to come back to me at some point or another.)

Then I said to her, "Back in those days the research wasn't out about the harmful effects of the sun. You did the best with what you knew."

Some days are better than others. This whole parenting thing is a learning process. If you made a decision you're not proud of - tomorrow you'll do better. Children are unpredictable. So sometimes we make quick decisions and then we feel bad about it later. I'm asking you to feel bad about it for about five minutes, then forgive yourself, move on and have a better day tomorrow.