In a perfect world, everyone would love everyone else, no one would be mean or tell lies, and we would all celebrate each other’s fabulousness. But let’s face it: we all have issues, and sometimes those issues are projected onto others. There are people out there who are just plain old meanies. We all know them and as adults we (hopefully) know how to handle them.
But what about our kids? Do our kids know how to handle the meanies, the liars, the bullies?
I recently had a friend tell me about her son’s friend, a little boy who was known to cause problems with other kids. She asked how she could gracefully exit this friend from her son’s life.
I told her that is not necessarily the answer.
Maybe, instead, the answer is in teaching your own children a set of morals and values and how to stand up in the face of adversity…even if standing up for said values means losing a friend. As parents and adults in children’s lives, our goal should be to continuously guide them to make the right choices. We should never force them or control them, because there will come a time in life when you can no longer control them. Once they are teens, and once they move on from us, they will make their own decisions. It is our job to show them the choices they have in life and guide them to those that are more desirable.
Think about the skills you would like your children to have. Maybe you want your child to be the one who stands up to a bully. Maybe you want her to be the one who friends the playground pariah. Maybe you want him to be the one who tells a friend he is wrong to call someone names, to be the one who helps someone less fortunate. Some kids might do this on their own, but others may need guidance and education about how to do so. Some might need to see adults lead by example. Don’t expect your kid to speak kindly of others if she hears you saying unkind things about others.
The truth is, you cannot control every single person who comes into your child’s life. Sure, it might be easier when they’re younger, and it is definitely tempting–instinctual, even, to protect them from potential “meanies,” but as they grow up, they will make their own decisions regarding their friends. They are more likely to make the right choices when they’ve been empowered to do so. Teach your kids right from wrong, teach them how to effectively stand up to bullies, liars, or name callers, and then trust that, as they grow older, they will hone these skills and make wise decisions. They will pick the right friends and make the right choices if they are taught to do so.
Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange