Should we be teaching our kids to be kind or to be tough? Do we need to focus on stopping our kids being nasty, or do we focus on building up their resilience, knowing there will always be those ready to pounce? Is it any different now to days gone by?
The digital world has opened up a new plethora of ‘meanies’. Those people who for whatever reason seem to think its OK to be as brutal and as vicious as they can, with little thought to the consequences of their actions.
I have dealt with children who have been bullied. Kids who are subjected to others who are lethal in their vitriol, abuse and slander. One in 4 kids report to being subjected to it in Australia. Some deal with it ok, others struggle to overcome.
I have spoken to bloggers who have trolls. Those people who actively seek to be nasty. Sometimes they are anonymous and just want to unleash on someone, sometimes they put a name. I read of a blogger this week who has found it difficult to write again after some nasty comments by anonymous readers stopped her in her tracks. She does not know them, she should not care, but when you are already vulnerable, their words can be paralysing. Some deal with it ok, others struggle to overcome.
I have myself come across professional people who differ in opinion, but have an inability to be constructive or to listen to opposing points of view. Instead there is a need to make judgements and criticism with no respect for difference of circumstance or situation. Just abuse. Some deal with it ok, others struggle to overcome.
So do we need to make our kids tougher? To be more resilient to the haters? To be better at filtering the constant stream of information that will continually flood through their worlds? Should we be giving them the skills to know when to shut down the device, turn off the comments or simply ignore the noise? I’d like to think we could all ignore and move on. But sometimes when you are vulnerable, anxious or in any other slightly fragile state….then the abuse can threaten to bring you down.
So maybe we all just need to be a little kinder.
When thinking about the future for our children I believe that kindness is an integral part of both their real life and their online existance. Last weekend I had a glimpse in to what the future holds for our kids. The technology that will all but eliminate the word ‘privacy’. If we are going to have our children grow up in a world that is going to be transparent, open and exposed, then surely being kind is going to be even more of a requirement than it is today. Not only to prevent the ‘unkindness’ in the first place, but to be a positive bystander to those we witness experiencing the torment.
But what of all these people who are being so nasty. Why do they feel this need?
Is it jealousy?
Is it lack of attention?
Is it ‘tall poppy syndrome’?
Is it just arrogance?
Is it boredom?
Is it a cry for help?
Is it bad role models?
I imagine for many it is a combination. It is more than likely an outpouring of an inner turmoil. If you are happy, content, confident and have fulfilling personal connections, then you would not have this need to unleash vitriol. But if you havn’t grown up where the importance of kindness has been emphasized, you may even be oblivious to the neglect.
There may always be mean kids that have been bought up by mean parents. There may always be kids whose own struggles manifest and are played out by bullying others. But I would love kindness to be a real focus. A real conscious teaching to our children. Every now and then asking our kids “What did you do today that was kind?”
Yes we need to develop resilience in our kids to let these abuses go unheeded.
But we need a lot more kindness too.