Bullying is happening all around us. It’s prevalent in homes, work environments, schools and now more than ever, the internet. The effects of bullying have serious lasting problems and are linked to many negative outcomes, including impacts on mental health, substance abuse, depression, and suicide. These problems, however, not only affect the people being bullied. In fact, they also affect the person with the bullying behavior.
Unfortunately growing up I was a school ground bully. The past memories of the “mean girl” things I occasionally said or did to other children have affected my life with immense shame and guilt. Understanding that my bullying behavior stemmed from hurt, anger, insecurities and ultimately things that were going inside my home; has helped me heal and forgive myself for my unacceptable behavior.
From my own personal experience, when we feel insecure, hurt, angry, depressed and even anxious, these internal feelings affect all aspects of our lives. Sadly, these feelings affected me at a young age, and I coped by intentionally trying to make others feel bad.
As I type this tears well up in my eyes. This isn’t the easiest thing to share. However, by having the courage to share this, my hope is to help others understand that bullies are hurting. They are insecure, and without a doubt, do not feel good on the inside.
For this reason, I started this blog: to inspire ourselves and our future generation to feel good within.
When we focus on styling the inside of our lives, we can emotionally equip ourselves with tools such as resiliency, confidence, empathy, and compassion.
If we can all simply be kinder to ourselves, we can, in turn, begin being kinder to others.
Furthermore, we can use the good we feel within to prevent our future generation from becoming bullies.
Teaching children to use their voice and have the courage to stand up to bullying behavior is an integral way to put an end to bullying. In addition, fostering empathy, kindness, and compassion are essential components in bullying prevention.
Here are 5 ways we can teach our children to be kind to prevent bullying:
- Be a role model
First and foremost teaching our children to be kind, compassionate and empathetic begins with us!
Bottom line is this: our kids are watching everything we do.
Children are innately kind, however, if the things they are watching from their caregivers, and role models aren’t kind, then they are more likely to grow up less kind, compassionate and empathetic.
So ask yourself, are my actions and intentions coming from a place of kindness? What am I doing to model this?
It’s quite simple to tell our children to be kind, but the reality is we have to walk the talk.
2. Catch your children being kind
When we notice our children doing small acts of kindness it’s important to point this out to them. For example saying things such as, “It was so kind of you to share your toy with Tim today, that probably made Tim feel good.” Or “When you helped your friend when she was sad, that was really kind.”
Pointing out your children’s small of acts of kindness helps them understand that kindness is simple, and it also helps them internalize that being kind makes others feel good.
3. Teach them that they can make a difference
Making a difference is an act of kindness, and it starts in the home. When we let our children help out around the house with things like cooking, (which isn’t always easy because the tasks may be messy or take longer) we enable our children to see the difference they make in the home. This, in turn, gives them the confidence to make a difference outside of the home.
If however, we are belittling or impatient with their efforts in the home, this could potentially decrease their willingness to make a difference when they go out into the world.
4. Put as much emphases on being kind as we do on getting good grades
Encouraging our children to get good grades in school seems to have taken precedence over kindness. If we put as much emphasis on being kind as we do on getting good grades, I believe the world would be a much kinder place.
I’m not saying you should discourage your children from striving to get good grades. I want my children to do well in school and I always urge them to do their best. At the same time, I urge being kind just as much, if not more.
5. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior
I’m sure you’ve heard sayings like, “Girls are catty”, “Girls are just mean” or “boys will be boys”. When we make these comments we are making excuses for unacceptable behavior.
Instead of making excuses we need to teach our children that being kind is the way to prevent this type of behavior.
In short, it is our responsibility to do what we can to make sure that our children aren’t bullies. The good news is that we can consciously raise kids who are more likely to be compassionate and kind, and… it starts with us.