In the end we would love for our kids to be kind human beings. It's hard to separate the things we CAN control from the things we WISH we could control. Kids will face so many adversities by their peers. Cruel comments and malicious teasing can be devastating.
Sadly, our wish that kids will always be kind has to do with something beyond our direct control–the behavior of others. The good news is that we CAN control our own actions by:
Intentionally modeling kindness We can make sure that kids see us regularly displaying kindness toward others. Our example is a powerful force.
Intentionally noticing and celebrating kindness We can watch for, and celebrate, acts of kindness we see from kids. We can raise the odds of kindness by noticing even small acts of kindness and then celebrating them without causing embarrassment.
Providing healthy outlets Some kids mistreat their peers and stir up conflict out of sheer boredom. We can make sure that kids have plenty to do, including outlets for their creativity, energy, and desire to play.
Controlling kids’ access to one another When kids are mean to others, we might be able to limit their access to peers (in-person or online). “We want you out here playing with the other kids – as long as we don’t have to worry about them being pushed around and called names.”
Providing consequences for unkind behavior We can expect kids to solve problems (and, hopefully, restore relationships) using restitution. In many cases, kind gestures that benefit the family/community or the offended party can create win-win scenarios.
It is a noble wish that kids will be kind to one another. We know that this wish will not always come true, but focusing on what we can control will raise the odds of kindness all around.
Photo: Cassidy Alane Photography