Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cuteness Isn't Enough...

Babies are so cute.  Okay, not all newborns are...but within a few weeks of breathing oxygen and being fed, babies blossom into adorably, cuddly, darling, captivating little creatures.  And their cuteness factor multiplies with each of their new achievements.  Their ability to smile, giggle, begin to experiment with language or learn to walk are milestones that increase their cuteness and general likability.  And we, as their parents, bask in the adorableness of it all.

But sometimes, our parental basking gets in the way of reality.  Sometimes, we forget to reevaluate and discern that even though a toddler is charming and soooo cute, taking a swing at daddy or trying to pull mommy's hair should not be acceptable behavior.  And we excuse away the behavior in the interest of keeping the peace.  The problem is that when parents end up excusing away unacceptable behavior or turning a blind eye, the child has this annoying habit of growing up and parents have an annoying habit of remaining stuck in their parenting cycle of excusing and ignoring.  The result is a child who has not been taught self control and empathy.

Our society is more in need of these lessons than EVER before.  There is a reason that we are hearing about bullying and harassment at record levels.  Our culture seems to glorify rude and selfish behavior.  We are literally bombarded everyday with examples of individuals who behave like selfish, spoiled brats, and so are our children.  Children's games and shows are full of examples of disrespect and rude behavior.  And any messages of wholesome, happy, family centered values are deemed as boring or lame.

So what can we do?  Teach our children!  Teach them empathy and kindness.  Start with teaching simple manners.  Manners are a tool to remind us that we are a polite society.  Manners are a way of thinking of how our actions affect others.  Teach your children to hold the door for another person.  Teach them not to interrupt or to use "please" and "thank-you" as part of their everyday vocabulary.  Read books to them that reinforce the importance of core character traits, such as honesty, compassion, the importance of friendship, or caring about others.  Teach them to be good sports on the playing field and in the classroom.  Show them the power of words, and how a compliment can brighten some one's day, but a mean remark can truly hurt someone.

Our society desperately needs more nice and less mean.  So let's all do our part as parents, to have a positive impact on society by raising kids who understand the importance of kindness.

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