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Having family time might be the #1 thing that you can do to raise a confident, kind kid. Playing board games, movie nights, bike rides, anything to get them involved in conversation and cooperation will mold them and teach them social skills while showing them they are loved and that time with them is important. Learning something new together, like taking an sewing class,  doing a rock wall climb, or cooking a new recipe together will give an opportunity to try, fail, and succeed together and will develop building blocks for life.  We, as parents, tend to get tired and say “no” A LOT. Saying “yes” to activities and time with them is invaluable.  Also – speaking of “yes” – try having (or asking them to earn)  a “Yes Day”. All day long tell them that the answer will be “Yes” to anything they ask (within reason). More often than not, they ask for things they know you will say yes to and it is amazing what they come up with. Ice Cream = “yes”!

Pay Attention

Children don’t always know how to deal with emotions. They definitely experience them, but actually processing them is a challenge that isn’t perfected in a young brain. You don’t have to be a psychologist – Just listen and don’t judge or lecture. Allowing them to have a voice, and letting them tell you the good and bad of their day will greatly reduce their stress, anxiety, and frustration of those raw feelings. When they know they can talk to you, it reduces the urge to vent, bully, or overshare on social media.  It also gives you some insight to how they feel and what is going on in their world so that you can see warning signs of bullying, if there are any. Here are some topics you can use to help start a conversation:

  • Who did you sit with at lunch today?
  • What was the best thing about your day today?
  • Did you have a chance to be kind to anyone today?
  • What is your biggest challenge at school?
  • What teachers to you like the most/least?
  • Did you meet anyone new today?
  • If you could change one thing about your day what would it be?
  • (helpful tip: make it a game. You get one question, they get one question. You will be amazed at what will come out when you offer a child a free pass to ask any question they want to with a promise to answer with honesty)

Surprise Notes

It’s true: Confident children are less likely to bully or be bullied. Drop an encouraging note in your child’s lunchbox, on their pillow, or tape it to the mirror so they see it when they brush their teeth in the morning. Telling kids (of any age) that they are kind, important, and loved, will cause a ripple effect that changes the fabric of their lives. Words have power. Let’s flood them with good words, so that the bad ones aren’t as easy to focus on.

Kindness Calendar

Almost everyone has a chore chart or calendar on the wall for scheduling soccer games or important events. Try adding a Random Act of Kindness to the list. Pick simple things like: hold the door for someone, sit by someone new at lunch, give someone a complement. Just one RAK a day will catch the attention of others and change the outlook and confidence of the child who helps. Soon it becomes a habit and part of everyday life. That’s the point right?

Books

If you are encouraging your children to read, encourage books that emphasize kindness, generosity, or enlighten them about differences in culture, looks, and disabilities. Create a reward system for when they choose a book from the library that follows this theme and ask them about what lessons they learned when reading it.

Random Acts of Kindness

Encouraging kids to do Random Acts of Kindness is the best way to fight bullying. They feel more confident, kind, and empowered by it. The best part is, the others around them do as well.  Set the example by offering to pay for someone’s coffee, or helping someone with their bags at the grocery store. It’s the little things that add up. Want some big things? Volunteer at a food pantry or senior home.