For parents of little kids, we have to start with the basics. Kids can be great and are for the most part naturally loving and caring beings, but they also can get tired, cranky and upset too and not be on their best behaviour in such circumstances. Chances are there may have been times you’ve had to teach your child not to push, hit or take something from a friend or classmate in their early years. You explain why and try to teach them what’s okay and what’s not. As they grow older, they have to learn to navigate through various other social situations. But we also have to acknowledge that we as adults are also learning in life and we have to try out best to lead by example.
To help, we can ask ourselves the following questions:
–How do we talk about people in front of our kids? Our kids can learn to model our behaviour. As they grow, their own life lessons and thoughts will also determine how they talk about others. But are we paying attention to what we say?
–How do we treat people on a regular basis? Are we polite when addressing people, whether it’s the waiter, bus driver or school teacher. You might have the odd day where someone who has hurt you addresses you and you don’t want to talk or you have an argument with someone and also weren’t at your best…but it can help to explain to your child that you didn’t mean what you said and it wasn’t right, and you too will also try better next time.
–How are we online? This is a big one, because what we say and share online can spread and have a much farther reach. If we say something hurtful online, it can have a massive ripple effect with unintended consequences for everyone involved, which can spread through local communities and multiple social circles. We need to also discuss this with our kids, regarding what they say and post online.
–How are we treating other moms and women in groups? Are you part of a group that gossips a lot or spreads hurtful rumours about other women and moms? Sometimes it can help to remove ourselves from such environments. We too need to watch ourselves and others and leave or avoid a toxic environment or group of people that affects us. Ones that can bring out the worst in ourselves or others.
–How do we deal with relationship problems? For relationships, especially marriage and long-term partnerships, often marriage or partner counselling is needed and can help. In some cultures and social circles there is a stigma attached to receiving counselling and couples who need it most avoid it, creating a cyclic pattern that affects a lot of people. It can help when our kids see that we are actively trying to work things out, and they can in turn learn for future relationships.
–Do we make assumptions based on what others say or share? Things can often be misinterpreted. Have you ever had a discussion with a friend or your partner and then realized you both remembered what was said in the discussion quite differently? Or have you ever misinterpreted something someone said and then asked for clarification and realized you were wrong or slightly off?
–Do we contribute to Karma Policing, determining who deserves what and why? This is something to be aware of and watch for in ourselves and others. Karma policing can have a negative effect on everyone involved. Also, just because someone in a position of authority or someone with a high level of influence in a community says something, doesn’t mean they are always right, also question things and think twice before spreading information and gossip that is hurtful. It can and does have a ripple effect that others can copy or repeat.
–Do we defend our kids if they’ve done something wrong or do we try to talk to them and explain why it was or was not okay?
If your kid did something wrong or was hurt and they hurt someone else in return, talk to them about it. Let them know everyone makes mistakes, but explain what is and isn’t okay and why, and talk about how can they do better next time.
–Do we practice selective or collective kindness? Being kind to others who are kind to us is easy. How do we try to be kind to those who’ve upset us? It isn’t easy, but sometimes being polite and avoiding or removing ourselves from a situation is the best thing we can do.
–Do we forgive ourselves and others? If we have a healthy level of forgiveness for our own mistakes or can forgive others for theirs, our kids can learn from that too. Rather than expecting perfection from them or raising them to always expect it from themselves, creating self-doubt when they don’t always reach those standards.
–Encourage, ask for and display unconditional love at home for your child and partner? This doesn’t mean every day is going to great and happy go lucky. We all have bad days. Even if they weren’t at their best on a specific day, it can help kids and partners to be reminded they are loved unconditionally, even if you are upset after an argument or discussion.