Although I am late, this is my first post of the year and I thought it should be meaningful. I decided to focus on a topic that I have been meaning to write about for some time now, but was not sure how to execute. I am not a psychologist, a doctor or an expert in any field. The only things I can comment on with certainty are the experiences I have gained and learned from throughout my life.
As a child, I have attended different schools that placed me amongst very different groups of people. My elementary school was an Armenian school, where I was surrounded by people of the same culture, who spoke the same language, ate the same food and pretty much looked the same too. You can say we were placed in a bubble, one that I am grateful for because it allowed me to learn about my heritage, speak a third language fluently and find my own identity as an Armenian. Yet, despite the fact that we were all of the same background, there were a few that had no problem creating their “cliques” and alienating others. Why was it that some children have no problem poking fun at others for their weight, the colour of their skin, their slightly larger nose, while others, like myself, would feel an immense amount of guilt for thinking it, or regret it immediately if I said it out loud?
In truth, I would think of my mother. What would she think of my actions? How disappointed would she be of me? How proud would she be if I helped someone who needed it, or offered to be someones friend when they had nobody else?
I would think of my mother, and how she would feel if that were me being teased. I would think of the other persons mother, probably thinking that they have left their child in a safe and loving environment, when in reality, they are sitting by themselves crying. It would break my heart.
My mother, the person I look up to the most in this world, would sway my actions. Until this day, my best friends are those I chose to speak to when they had no one else; and I was barely ten years old.
As parents, we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. To raise a kind child, we must demonstrate kindness, show empathy and teach them the importance of acceptance. After reading many articles on the topic of bullying and raising kind children, I realize there are a few essential things that we must all do in order to raise a kind generation. Here is a short list of things that my mother did all too well.
- Do not criticize or insult others for their physical appearances, and this includes stereotyping, or making fun of others.
I believe that racism is taught by example. If you do not show importance to skin colour or a persons race, you’re children will not either. They might one day ask you why a certain person looks different, at which time you can take the opportunity to explain the differences of cultures around the world and how they are all unique and equally interesting.
- Be forgiving. There will come a time that your children will witness someone do wrong by you. Someone might steal something of yours, or break something you value. Do not be vengeful towards that person. Instead show them that you can forgive. Explain that the person may have been desperate or simply having a terrible day.
- Be polite. Always use “please” and “thank you”.
Whether you are speaking to your children, or to the server at a restaurant always be polite. “Please” and “Thank you” go a long way and it is always important to show appreciation, and to encourage your children to do so as well.
- Admit your mistakes and apologize.
We are all human and we make mistakes. In those moments that you lose your temper, you forget to do something you promised or you say something you shouldn’t have. Be quick to apologize and acknowledge that your actions had consequences. Demonstrate remorse if you’ve hurt someone, and show sympathy towards others.
- Pay it forward. Demonstrate kindness through acts of charity, smiling at strangers, or helping a friend and explain to your children why it is important to do so. Getting involved allows you to see what you can accomplish by helping out and being part of a community. Your child can see first hand the consequences of their actions and witness the rewarding feeling of helping others.
Of course there is so much more involved in good parenting; and it is not something you can read in a “how-to” book. At the end of the day, we must lead by example and motivate them to be better because no one wants to hear that their child has been teased or bullied at school. And nothing would upset me more that to hear that my child was the one doing the bullying.