One definition tries to capture it – “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”
It’s a necessary force in the world, but oftentimes we focus on kindness in the physical world. Sometimes, when people get behind the safety of their screen, they take aim. Unfortunately, negativity is prevalent online and it’s not only with adults, but with teens and tweens as well. We need to help change that as part of an overall discussion on bullying.
October is National Bullying Month and I’m proud to be partnering with Google in this sponsored post as part of the Forward Influence Network. It’s an important and timely topic for many of us as parents, and if you are like me, you are curious about what we need to teach our kids about bullying.
What We Need to Teach Our Kids About Bullying
I realize now that my family is in the midst of those middle school years, that parenting is tougher than ever. My role as a parent is ever-changing and I’ve found myself thankful that I can be home with our daughter, driving her to and from school and activities. For us, it seems those important discussions happen in the car. Can anyone relate? That’s not to say that my husband and I don’t have intentional talks with her about big topics at home, but those life lesson “discussions” seem to happen when I least expect them, spurred on by a random comment.
It was in one of those random conversations in the car that I first learned about a situation at school last year. Bullying. It was happening at school, specifically at lunch, with the bullied person being an acquaintance. Over a period of weeks, we had general and very specific discussions about bullying. As a mom, I was so proud of the little girl I had raised and the very specific actions she wanted to take, at the risk of losing her friends.
Four (4) Types of People Involved in Bullying
We talked so much about the four types of people involved when it comes to bullying. Yes, there are four types, and it’s good to talk to your kids about each one.
- Aggressor – person(s) doing the bullying
- Target – someone being bullied
- Bystanders – witnesses to what’s going on
- Upstanders – witnesses to what’s going on who try to positively intervene
Specific Problem of Cyberbullying
While bullying is easily recognized, sometimes it’s not as clear cut when it comes to cyberbullying.
Maybe because there’s not a “crowd” standing around. Maybe because there’s safety behind a screen. Whatever the reasons, it’s important to recognize, as adults and kids, cyberbullying when it is happening. Talk to your kids about what it looks like and how it is different.
Texts. Social Media. Posts. Comments. Photos. Videos.
Make it clear what is and is not acceptable, applying the easy to remember rule, “treat others as you’d want to be treated.”
Give Your Child Tools They Need
If your child find themselves or another the target of bullying or other bad behavior online, make sure they know what to do:
- Not respond
- Block the person or account
- Report them (digitally and physically – parents, teachers, or another trusted adult).
#ItsCoolToBeKind – Modeling Kindness for our Kids
I was proud to participate in Google’s #ItsCoolToBeKind challenge recently. I was challenged to do a random act of kindness online to someone else by myself or with my daughter, then challenge friends and YOU to do the same.
Random acts of kindness are nothing new to my family. We try to incorporate this in everything we do and model our behavior to extended family and friends. One way this takes shape is by stocking bottled water in our car and handing them out to homeless people we encounter on the roads here in Dallas, a far too common sight.
But random acts of kindness on the internet was something I’d never talked about with my daughter and it was certainly not something we had done together. Now that she is online more and more for school purposes, this was very timely, and we didn’t just stop with one act.
Together we sought out those online who could use a little positivity. There was the friend who was in the midst of visiting her grandfather for the very last time, knowing he would pass soon. As someone who has had to say goodbye in person to my own grandfather (and my mom), this broke my heart and we left heartfelt comments on her post. There were friends being evacuated from their homes amidst the California wildfires. They needed some positivity in their lives too.
It wasn’t hard to find those who needed a bit of kindness. It’s something that we’ll continue to do, these random acts of kindness, and I encourage you to join us!
Examples of Acts of Kindness Online
Find someone that could use kindness or positivity online. Whether they are the target of bullying or not, kindness goes along way towards making the internet a better place for all of us to be.
- Post a positive comment about a friend’s picture or video
- Be an upstander and report negative behavior
- Send a positive message to a friend.
- Help your kids spread kindness online with Kind Kingdom.
Google’s Be Internet Awesome campaign focuses on 5 Pillars of Internet Awesome:
- Smart – Share with Care
- Alert – Don’t Fall for Fake
- Strong – Secure your Secrets
- Kind – It’s Cool to Be Kind
- Brave – When in Doubt, Talk it Out
I’ve talked in depth about the campaign and Kids Online Safety earlier this year. Take a moment to learn more about these important lessons.
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