This week, I have had a lot of conversations with moms of teens, and it has become very clear that technology can either be a tool to allow us to help others, or it can be a way to allow us to hurt others.
As parents, we have the ability to guide our children down one of these paths.
I want our kids to CHOOSE TO BE KIND. (I know that you do, too.)
I think that with our guidance, help, examples, and daily reminders, we can achieve that goal. I try to remind them often that being kind is always the right choice.
In fact, this reminder is the first thing that they see when they come home every day. I have a little chalkboard hanging on the wall in our entry that says, “In a world where you can choose to be anything… be kind.”
I’m even working with Google to help spread the message online that It is COOL to be KIND. When talking with their team the other day, I mentioned that our family has two major rules when it comes to technology.
They aren’t the little rules that we have like “No phones in your room” or “No texting before or after these hours,” but they are the rules that truly matter.
I haven’t shared these with anyone, but in light of National Bullying Prevention Month, I wanted to share them today.
Our Technology Rules: the ones that make a difference in their character.
First, please know that while this works for us, I am NOT suggesting that everyone should adopt these rules. I would never judge another parent about the rules in their home because I know that every family is different and what works for one family might not be right for another. I just like to share what is working for us. 😊
We started these rules when our kids were old enough to be given the privilege of texting. If they break this rule, they will lose that privilege.
These rules were given BEFORE we had a reason to give them. They were given before they ever had a device and before they had a chance to see what I was talking about.
Rule #1: Our kids are not allowed to send pictures or videos of themselves hanging out with friends to anyone, not with them.
This means that if our son meets a group of kids to hang out, they are not allowed to send photos of themselves “having the best time” to anyone not hanging out with them.
I have explained to our kids that while they see it as fun, it isn’t kind. I’ve asked them how they would feel if they were on the receiving end of that text… all of your friends are hanging out, having a blast, and you weren’t invited. You hear your phone beep & you check the text, only to see that they are having the time of their lives while you are missing out.
It’s not fair, and it’s not kind.
I want our children to CHOOSE to be KIND.
I explained what life looked like for me when I was that age, and how I never had to be on the receiving end of a video text of my friends having fun when I wasn’t invited… and I am grateful for it.
- When I was in middle school, in the early ’90s, if my classmates were having fun without me, I had no idea unless they told me the next day.
- When school ended at 3:00, I had no idea what my classmates were doing, because I was home, and as far as I knew, they were home, too.
- I never knew what happened over the weekend until we came back to school on Monday morning.
I want our kids to know that every day they are faced with the choice to lift others up or tear others down. By being kind, respectful, and aware of how things make others feel, they can always make the right choice.
Rule #2: Remember that anything you write online, or over a text, can be seen forever… (yes, even if it has been deleted) and the way that it makes someone feel can last a lifetime.
If someone is being unkind or talking about someone else, choose to do the right thing.
✔️Choose to be kind.
✔️Stand up for that person.
It’s always the right choice. 71% of students have witnessed bullying directly. I want our kids to know that they have a right and a duty to be an upstander in those situations.
I remind our kids:
- What if the person that they are talking about saw that message?
- How would they feel?
- What if they saw that you knew about it and didn’t do anything?
- How would YOU feel?
As parents, we have these amazing opportunities to lead our children to be the kind of people that we know they can be. We have the chance to help them be the people that they were meant to be. It is a big job, and I don’t take it lightly.
I use every chance that I get to teach our kids to be kind and to remember to do the right thing.
Ideas for teaching children to be kind & do the right thing.
- Set aside quality time to really discuss what it means to be kind: what it looks like online and in real life, what they can do to be kind to others, and how they can stand up for others.
- Make it fun. 🎂We made this ‘It’s cool to be kind’ cake yesterday (I posted a few pictures on Instagram.. swipe to see all of them) I told the kids that we were celebrating the importance of kindness. I asked each of the kids to tell me something that they did that day that was kind.
- Teach your child to be empathetic. A great way that I have found to do this is to read books, like Wonder, that remind our kids that other people have struggled and have been hurt, but they have used kindness and love to come out the other end.
- Play Interland on Google’s Kind Kingdom as a family.
- Don’t make them feel like every lesson is really a ‘lesson,’ but instead, let these conversations and reminders be a part of the daily conversation.
- Ask questions (in the car or at the dinner table) that will invite them to open up about how they can be kind:
● Tell me about something kind that someone did for you at school recently?
● What have you done to be kind to others in your classroom?
● When you see someone being bullied, what do you do?
● Why is it important to be kind to others?
● Let’s think of some ways that you can be kind to others at school this week.
● What are some acts of kindness you can share with your classmates and friends?
- Be an example. Our children are always watching us and listening to us. We can be an example to them by being kind to others daily.
Our children are growing up with tools that we did not have while we were growing up. It is hard to navigate these waters, but we have the chance to use these tools to help us. 🤗
I remind our kids daily that they have a choice every day, and I hope that they choose kindness.
They will never regret choosing to be kind. Neither will we. 🥰
Have a wonderful week.
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