Turn Up the Volume Parents!...
Help your children learn responsible behavior just in time for the new school year.
As parents, sometimes we think that when our children are off to school, our job is done; now it’s the teacher’s responsibility to educate our children. We have a break! Sometimes we may think that, as parents, we must set aside particular times or create special situations in order to teach our children. But that is far from the truth when it comes to teaching responsibility. Sometimes the most ordinary situations in everyday life are filled with opportunities for sound teaching, if parents pay attention to them.
The US Department of Education has published an informative booklet that contains activities to encourage the habits of responsibility in your child. Most of them are not, however, the kind of activities that you can do together for half an hour once a week. Instead, they are more like rules of thumb, ideas to build on. They should stimulate your own thinking and your own ideas. Just remember one thing: teaching our children about responsibility doesn’t mean that we can’t laugh or that we have to be grim. Our children should see that we can be serious about our principles, while still being able to play and have fun.
The first exercise I want to share is about bullying. This is a fear nearly HALF of all students face. As the parent of an eight year old daughter with special needs, I find the next exercise enlightening, particularly because she is two to three times more likely to be bullied than her nondisabled peers. The facts – Students with disabilities are much more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. One study shows that 60 percent of students with disabilities report being bullied regularly compared with 25 percent of all students. [pacer.org]
It is the duty of parents and family members to educate their children about physical and cognitive differences in all human beings. We have become a society with a strong emphasis on looks and material wealth. It’s crucial for parents to have heart-to-heart discussions explaining that beauty comes in all shapes, colors, choices and sizes, “because we’re all the same on the inside.”
Our first line of defense when someone is being bullied is to blame the bully for the behavior. Why not give our children the tools to learn not to allow others to mistreat them? At the same time, we want them to learn how to reach understandings peacefully, whenever possible.
WHAT TO DO
1. Listen to your child and find out if others are not treating your child as they should. This will encourage your child to trust you and come to you when there is a problem.
2. Help your child consider various ways of dealing with a particular problem.
3. If the problem is the way another child is behaving, suggest working out the problem by talking with the child’s teacher, or a responsible adult.
4. PARENTS: Befriend the bully!
I understand this may sound impractical, but it has worked every time for me. I have learned to assume that it’s often the bully who needs some love. And I find a way to give it. Often, it’s by volunteering at my daughter’s school or accompanying her class on a field trip. I become very attentive to the offending child. By building a healthy relationship with them, it always, in turn, reflects on how they treat my daughter and the bullying ceases. Never will I confront the child about their negative behavior; quite the opposite, I point out all of their positive traits and make them feel extra special.
5. If the problem is another adult, however, or if your child is seriously threatened by other children, you will need to intervene directly.
A part of self-respect is not tolerating mistreatment by others. Finding appropriate ways to deal with unpleasant behavior by others is an important, if sometimes difficult, part of growing up.
This article was written by Stacie Carroll who has recently published her first children’s book entitled When Hairy Met Tallie. A true story, written in a fictional context the storybook communicates the language of kindness, compassion and acceptance through delightful, contemporary illustrations and rhyming conversation.
Stacie is on a mission to get in front of as many people as possible to spread Hairy’s message of love, acceptance and equality through interviews, media appearances and speaking engagements at schools and libraries.