I recently wrote a piece for our local community newspapers and I called it ” Bullies Born or Raised”? It was inspired by the recent “cry baby award” given to an eight year old boy by one of our local organizations. A group of parents were brought together on a panel to discuss the optics of this award. The general discussion among the panelists centered on what is bullying and whether acts such as the ‘cry baby award’ could be deemed bullying. It got me thinking of these questions, “how do we raise children to not be bullies? and how do we prepare them to know when and how to take a stand against bullying? A third question came to mind and that is ” what happens to bullies when they grow up”? Let’s talk about my first question, how to raise children not be bullies. An immediate thought that comes to my mind is cultural differences and how these could be interpreted as bullying to those outside of the cultural group. With so many different cultures convening on the soils of Canada, how do we as a community of different nations, prepare these children, new to the Canadian culture on what is appropriate behaviour in their social settings? It boggles my mind to think about all the new information these families and their children must learn as they settle in their new homes.
A quick search for anti-bullying programs/initiatives within our city brought up a few research papers by doctoral candidates and the 2013 anti-bullying legislation by the government. No doubt many community-based organizations are tackling this social issue and this is to be applauded. The access to such services would not appear to be readily available especially to those new to our city and province. So how can we as parents raise our children not to be bullies? Here are some points I have come to notice over the years that are conducive to raising children with a sense of social capital:
- Parent consciously versus reactively. Conscious parenting brings out the inner goodness that all children are born with. Reactive parenting changes like the weather and results in a suppression of the natural goodness in children.
- As parents we must face our own fears. Sometimes we parent from a place of fear-our own fear and this gets dumped onto our children. Let us free our children to create their own realities by recognizing when we are coming from our own fears as opposed to really trying to protect/guide/coach them into their greatness.
- Call out our children’s greatness. They already know what they are not great at. Too often parents tend to focus on what isn’t working with their children and go down the road of telling them just what’s not working for them. Do we not know they know this already? Let’s switch things around and call out their greatness.
- Be authentic when acknowledging our children’s greatness. This is important as acknowledgement that is trumped-up, made up and outright false will do more harm than good. Be real and truthful about what you see as their greatness.
- Know that when children feel great they allow others to shine in their own greatness. This snowballing effect is what we parents can achieve when we see past the temporary distractions in our children’s lives and instead hone in on their greatness.
I will talk about my second question in another post: How do we prepare children to take a stand against bullying?