Nearly every day we see or hear something about kids being mean to others – whether they’re fellow students, younger kids or the elderly.

Its disguises include bullying, scoffing, ranting, posting lies through social media, liking and sharing lies through social media, gossiping, etc., etc.

Same old, same old.

It gets to the point that we’re so accustomed to hearing the bad news we become blasé and unaffected by it anymore.

Unless you’re the victim; the unwilling target of the hurtful taunts and usually dishonest messages.

When no punches are thrown, the perpetrators enthusiastically defend their untenable positions with comments like, “I didn’t touch them!” or “They’re such a pussy, they can’t handle name calling!”

When it’s turned around and they become the brunt of someone else’s jokes or ridicule, oddly enough they seem to lose their own sense of humour and are unable to rationalise the, now painful, comments.

 

It can all be avoided.

 

Like all behaviour, some things need to be taught to our kids when they’re young. One of these things is KINDNESS.

If a child learns to be kind, then they have the ability to empathise with others and have compassion for them.

This is a great gift for anyone.

If a person has kindness, empathy and compassion coursing through their veins, they will never be comfortable with any acts of meanness – whether it’s towards an animal or a human. It will feel repellent to them and they will naturally want to avoid it and move away. This will stop them in their tracks and help them to reflect on actions taken by others and force them to choose better people to spend their time with – better peers means better influences and social choices.

As a parent, we all want the best for our kids, but we can’t hover over them – helicopter-like – to keep them safe and on the right path. Kids hate that, especially as they become teenagers. What was once a guiding hand across a busy street has now become a cloak of control that threatens to force an impenetrable wedge between you and your much loved child.

What we can do is teach them the life skills they need so they can make their own choices without the “interference” of the parent (you).

As the first teacher of your child, you need to be prepared to watch everything you do and say, and adjust it accordingly.

If you have a tendency towards ridiculing and judging, then that’s what your child sees as the behaviour to follow. They will do that too. As they emulate you, your ego might be pleased at their ability to copy you so well and you might laugh and think it’s funny. This encourages your child to continue this behaviour because they are getting good feedback from you. You also tend to have the same type of people as friends and this may limit your ability to empathise with other people who are different from you or who have different beliefs to you.

If you tend to be less judgemental, if you prefer to accept people as they are and have a more tolerant approach to others, then your kids will copy that too. This teaches them to be patient as well as tolerant of others’ differences and abilities (or disabilities). They see you accept all manner of people into your circle of friends and they learn to appreciate the quality of life from so many different viewpoints.

 

In each situation, as your child copies your behaviour, they see you happy about it and that is what they want to do – make you happy and to be proud of them.

At least until they become teenagers and then they might want to do the opposite just to rebel. This might only last a year or two, or a lot more, but that depends on how you react to this new behaviour.

If you are a reactionary type of personality, then guess what? Yes, this period of rebellion will last a lot longer, or if it is dominated by threats and other methods of control and abuse, it may become hidden, but it is definitely bubbling along under the surface ready to explode years or decades later. Not a good scenario.

If you have behaved well yourself and continue to be true to your beliefs of acceptance and tolerance, then this period will pass relatively quickly. Your teenager will recognise that you have accepted their stand point (remember: you don’t have to agree with it) and you treat them as the adult they are becoming. Just stating, “Because I said so!” isn’t going to get you anywhere these days. That might’ve worked prior to the ‘70s, but it’s got no platform to stand on nowadays. If they see fairness and logic in any arguments, then they will appreciate it and tend to use the same methods themselves.

 

Kindness seems to be a lost virtue – Missing In Action some might say.

 

But with parents, like you, who are aware and willing to act, kindness can become commonplace and everyday people will become confident and trusting again.