TEACHING KINDNESS BY BEING KIND Bullying Isn’t Just for Kids By Mindy Lockard
“Are you going to the PTO meeting?” one mom asked as I was walking Elle and Maggie into school a couple of weeks ago. “I’ve decided not to,” I responded. “Probably a good thing, I hear it’s going to be an all-out mom fight!” Maggie, my youngest, looked up at me with her big brown eyes and asked, “Mommy, are you going to get into a fight?” When mommies behave poorly it doesn’t set a very good example, does it?
When it comes to bullying in our schools we should have no tolerance, because it’s dangerous. Paul Coughlin, founder of the antibullying non-profit organization The Protectors, defines bullying as the following: “It’s the superior use of power to intentionally harm another person over a period of time and for no good reason. It almost always includes humiliation, isolation and threat of further abuse.” It seems obvious we would not tolerate it and one might assume you could recognize a bully by his or her demeanor. But what about when she is disguised in yoga pants or power heels? That’s right, ladies. This is not just child’s play. Bullying behavior has a way of finding its way into our adult lives, making appearances at work and a variety of gatherings from cocktail parties to PTO meetings. Although our adult behavior may not fit the classic definition of
“bullying,” the way in which we treat or speak about others in general can begin to plant seeds of social awareness in the children around us. How we behave matters, even when another mom on the PTO questions our work on the school carnival or someone takes the parking spot we were headed for. We alone are accountable for our actions and responses. Little eyes are watching and teen ears are tuned in, listening and learning. What my mother always said to me is true, “Actions speak louder than your words.” That said, let’s arm ourselves with graciousness and self-control, demonstrating to our children what it means to treat others well. We can encourage them to “be nice,” but it’s not until we demonstrate our intentions through our own actions that they will truly experience an honorable example of how best to behave and interact with others.