This post is sponsored by Be Internet Awesome
“Hi, how was your game?” I shouted to my tween son as I walked in the door from my daughter’s soccer game. For years, Saturdays in our house have been for soccer while Sundays are reserved for baseball which means I rarely miss a game. I love being spectator, cheering on my kids and their teammates while supporting their love of the sport.
Eager to hear about how his baseball game went, I headed upstairs. “How was your game?” I repeated as he took his headphones off and turned away from the YouTube video he was watching. With a big sigh, I could tell in an instant that it didn’t go well.
It’s ok that the other team won. The 7-1 loss wasn’t a big deal but what was a big deal was how comments made by a teammate during the game made my son feel. Criticisms of fielding at first base and left field, the two positions my son played during the game, combined with “We need better players” hurt.
I leaned in for a hug and I could feel the weight of the words as he leaned into me. We talked about how having a teammate make such statements demoralizes fellow players, especially when you consider the person to be a friend. I acknowledged that the game sounded challenging and led to kids being frustrated. We talked about how it’s ok to be frustrated and how negative feelings can be redirected in positive, constructive ways, so feelings don’t get hurt.
3 Simple, Positive Actions to Teach Tweens to Combat Bullying
Being able to express feelings and opinions in positive, effective ways and responding to negativity in constructive and civil ways are important lessons in kindness. Negativity between friends can easily develop into bullying because there’s a fine line between friendly banter and harassment. The feelings felt by our kids are no different whether the interaction occurs online or off.
Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum encourages tweens to use simple actions to turn negative interactions into positive ones online and offline. This multifaceted 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. Here are 3 actions you can encourage your tween to take in order to combat bullying and encourage healthy, productive interactions online and off.
Treat Others Like You Want to be Treated
As parents, we are powerful forces in helping our kids take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you’d want to be treated.” Instill the importance of responding with kindness and empathy by modeling the behaviors you expect and having conversations about what it means to be kind. Make sure your kids know that treating others how you want to be treated is essential for building healthy relationships and cultivating respect and if your child finds themselves being treated badly by those they consider friends, my 6 Questions Parents Need to Ask Kids to Reinforce Kindness in the Digital World can help.
Be an Upstander
Even though my son didn’t confront his friend on the baseball field, I commended him for being an upstander. He let me know that he wasn’t ok with how he was treated when it might have been easier to internalize his feelings.
Be Internet Awesome encourages tweens to turn from bystanders in to upstanders by:
- Finding a way to be kind to or support the person being targeted
- Calling out the mean behavior in a comment or reply (remember to call out the behavior, not the person), if you feel comfortable with that and think it’s safe to do so
- Deciding not to help the aggressor by spreading the bullying or making it worse by sharing the mean post or comment online
- Getting a bunch of friends to create a “pile-on of kindness” – post lots of kind comments about the person being targeted (but nothing mean about the aggressor, because you’re setting an example, not retaliating)
- Reporting the harassment. Tell someone who can help, like a parent, teacher, or school counselor
- It’s important for our tweens to know how effective simple actions can be to help others.
Redirect Negative Interactions into Positive Ones
We know that kids of all ages are exposed to online and offline behaviors with negative messages that promote bad behavior. While it’s always helpful to have a teachable moment to spark a conversation about what you might do differently, Google’s Be Internet Awesome It’s Cool to be Kind curriculum has some great examples that are perfect for families to use as examples to reframe negative interactions and interactions into positive ones.
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. Here are just three of the statements that kids are challenged to think about and respond to in order to make the conversation more positive:
- Everybody wear purple tomorrow but don’t tell Lilly.
- You can only join our group if you give me the login to your account.
- This makes me cringe- who told her she can sing??
This is an impactful activity that helps kids understand the power of their words. What they might not deem as negative could be perceived in a different way and it’s important to teach our kids to rephrase and reframe unfriendly comments and also be aware of our tone when communication on and offline.
About Be Internet Awesome
Be Internet Awesome consists of five areas and throughout the month, I’m 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
- 3 Simple, Positive Actions to Teach Tweens to Combat Bullying (TODAY!)
- How I Taught My Tween to Be an Upstander
- How to Talk to Kids When They See Adults Being Unkind
- How Kids Can Play Their Way Through Interland to Learn Digital Citizenship
For more information, about Be Internet Awesome by Google:
- Visit co/BeInternetAwesome.
- Play Interland with your kids where you can put your kindness skills to the test at 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.