This post is sponsored by Be Internet Awesome
“Ugh,” my husband typed when I texted him to ask how the team meeting went before our son’s weekly baseball practice. The three letter response left me with more questions than answers about the mandatory pre-practice meeting that I thought the coach was holding to address bullying in the baseball dugout and on the field during the past couple baseball games. Instead, I learned the team was berated for playing badly the week before when playing a team that was quite good. Any teachable moments expressing positivity, teamwork, or speaking to the boys’ skills and acknowledging they’d try their best next time were either not part of, or were lost, in the coach’s lecture.
My son loves baseball. He loves playing the game as much as he loves watching but the past couple weeks have been hard for a tween who knows that he needs to treat others how they want to be treated, the importance of responding with kindness, and finding the positive even in moments of frustration. And to be honest, this hasn’t been easy for me either.
Treat people like you want to be treated. Actions speak louder than words. Set an example.
Deep down our kids know these three things that we’ve drilled into them time and time again. They understand the importance of treating others like they want to be treated and the necessity of responding with kindness but what happens when the adults in their life don’t set good examples?
How to Talk to Kids When They See Adults Being Unkind
It’s important to teach kindness but it’s just as important to model lessons of kindness. We know there are plenty of examples of how bullying and harassment aren’t just issues for kids. Just look at how adults sometimes treat each other online, in the news media, and in traffic jams!
For better and for worse, the actions of adults serve as a model of behavior for younger generations. We don’t think twice when an adult is kind or demonstrates qualities an upstanding citizen should, but we definitely notice when they’re unpleasant, cruel, and hurtful.
Taking the time to have a conversation with your tween to reflect on the online and offline behavior of adults is an important teachable moment. Adults can teach kids, but kids can also teach adults!
5 Questions to Ask Your Tween to Help Them Reflect on Adults Being Unkind
Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum encourages tweens to reflect on the way the adults around them are acting as a way to make better decisions when choosing what to say and how to deliver it. The way our kids treat each other in real life and in the online world will impact the digital world their generation builds which is why it’s so critical for us to reinforce how to make good decisions when using words to express ourselves.
The multifaceted It’s Cool to Be Kind program teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety, so they can explore the online world with confidence. Free materials provide talking points for family discussions and activities that help you create a strong foundation for your kids’ safe, successful use of the Internet. These conversation starters inspired by It’s Cool to Be Kind: Activity 5 Walking the Walk (page 59) can be used with your tween to help them reflect on the behavior of adults in their lives and make better choices.
1. It’s important to our family to model kindness because it’s to be kind to your classmates and friends both online and off but how do you feel when adults are unkind?
- Have you ever seen adults act in mean ways toward each other?
- Would you consider this bullying?
- Have you seen adults being mean to kids?
- How did this make you feel?
2. What do message do you think the adult was trying to share with the child and how might you have conveyed their message in a different way?
- Remind kids that it’s ok to just talk about the behaviors they’ve witnessed rather than stating names. It’s also a good time to revisit It’s Cool to Be Kind: Activity 3 …but say it nicely! (page 55) emphasizes the importance of reframing negative comments. The activity provides 8 examples and challenges kids to turn them into positive and constructive statements. Kids are challenged to think about and respond to in order to make the conversation more positive can be found in this post.
3. Do you think some kids start bullying or making unkind comments because they see adults around them or in the news doing these things?
- Give examples of what YOU would do instead and how you would you be a better role model for adults
- Ask if there are instances when someone should be an upstander, rather than a bystander
4. Think about the way you interact online with classmates and when playing games with friends. Do you think the internet makes you behave in a different way because you’re not face to face?
- Is this ok? Why or why not?
5. You’re growing up with the internet but parents like us haven’t. What would you change about the way the internet is and why?
- Do you think your generation can build an Internet thatʼs kinder and more positive than the environments some adults have created for themselves?
About Be Internet Awesome
The It’s Cool to Be Kind curriculum is available for free from Google’s Be Internet Awesome. It consists of five areas and throughout this month, I’ve working with Google to highlight a theme that corresponds to these important values:
- SMART: Where we learn to share with care
- ALERT: Where we learn not to fall for fake
- STRONG: Where we learn how to secure our digital stuff
- KIND: Where we learn that itʼs cool to be kind
- BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out
Each week I’ve covered a different theme and here’s a look at past posts and what’s still to come!
- How Google Be Internet Awesome Teaches Kids It’s Cool to Be Kind
- 6 Questions Parents Need to Ask Kids to Reinforce Kindness in the Digital World as a way to teach them how to treat others how you’d like to be treated, both online and IRL
- How I Taught My Tween to Be an Upstander
- October 24 — Make good decisions when choosing what to say and how to deliver it (TODAY!)
- October 31 — Spread kindness online
For more information, about Be Internet Awesome by Google:
- Visit co/BeInternetAwesome
- Play Interland with your kids to put your kindness skills to the test at g.co/KindKingdom.
- Share Be Internet Awesome’s online curriculum with your kids’ teachers so they can introduce these activities in the classroom to help disempower bullying behavior and encourage healthy, productive interactions.
This post is sponsored by Google and Be Internet Awesome but all opinions are my own.