Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Be Nice or Leave

I'm on a bit of a rant, but if there's one thing that I hope to teach my child, and my two beloved nieces, it is to be nice to other people. Before birthday parties, and gatherings, I have always told them, "Be nice to everyone. If you see anyone who looks left out, go out of your way to try to include them. You don't have to LIKE everyone, but you do need to be nice, and respectful." I hope if I say it enough, it will sink in.

Sadly, my oldest niece, who is nine, has started experiencing some bullying behavior amongst her peers. I'm not sure if she fully realizes what is going on yet...but when the "kidding around" seems to go way too far...her precious little face will suddenly look if she's asking, "this IS still a joke...isn't it?" 

I have met most of her friends, and they are such a nice, sweet, innocent bunch. But, the catty behavior is starting, and the cliques are starting to form. My niece is very well liked, and she seems to get along with everyone. I'm hoping she doesn't fall into this mean-spirited behavior that is coming out around her.

Unfortunately, I think this nasty behavior can often start with the parents. A careless word about a less fortunate child with less fortunate circumstances can fall on listening ears. And, I think WHY? Why do does a parent have to pick on the little underdog...a child who is clearly struggling, and who will never have the same opportunities? This same, mean-spirited parent could just as easily say, "why don't we just include (less fortunate child), it really makes no difference to us, and I know it will make her very happy." Or, "let's make sure he gets to play in the next inning...everyone has something to offer!" You don't have to arrange daily play-dates, but if the group is more person won't make a difference.

Why would any parent want to continue this behavior? It happens, I know, and maybe I'm completely naive, but if I could just wave my fairy-auntie wand and make it go away for her, I would!

Above: 1. Butch, the School Bully Sock Monkey from Sock Monkey Ranch; 2. Bully, the Monster shirt from My Precious Grandchild; 3. Dog tank top from Mia's Closet; 4. Bully T-shirt from Cafe Press; 5. Be Nice or Leave Pillow from Alexandra Ferguson.

(What are you hooked on?)


Jacqueline said...

Sorry to hear your little oldest niece's story. I always tell my little elder nephew too that they should be nice to everyone...and there are a few bullies among his peers. I have the same tot and idea that such nasty behaviour often start with the parents. If only everyone could be a little more thoughtful especially around kids...i think that would make alot of differenece.
Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you and yours!

becoming-mom said...

Seriously, the thought of anyone EVER hurting Jasper's feelings makes me want to cry.

Kids can be so cruel, it is no fun to be the object of their taunting, even as an adult let alone a young child.. my heart goes out to your neice :(

Still Learning said...

Oh boy, this is a sensitive subject for me. My oldest daughter was bullied to the point where she received a Presidential Award when graduating elementary for how she dealt with it. I was like, um, if you guys at the school had dealt with it she wouldn't need this award. Now my 9 year old has just been bullied out of girl scouts. 3 girls said they would not re join the troop if my Amber came back next year so the leader actually asked me if my Amber wanted to quit. We have a lot of bullying in our area. I tried talking to a couple of parents about it one time concerning my son and they said if he can't defend himself that's his problem. ??? I agree, it all stems back to the parents. I always teach my kids to treat everyone well and the other kids take kindness as a sign of weakness around here. Strange. We are homeschooling 2 of the 3 schoolage kids now. What else is a family of sweet kids to do?

Found you from Julia's party. Nice to meet you.


DesignTies said...

The "Be Nice Or Leave" pillow is great -- my sentiments exactly!!! "Bullies Suck" would be another good one.

Parents are roles models for their kids. They really need to think twice about saying or doing something that could be hurtful to someone else, because that's what their kids will learn from them. And doesn't it feel better to be kind than mean??

Kelly @ DesignTies

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Oh, I know, this kind of stuff kills me. I have a hard time staying out of it, too. My daughter is only a 1st grader, but I dread the years ahead when girls start getting really nasty. I remember those days all too well (you couldn't pay me enough to go back to Jr Hi school--ugh!).

P.S. I promise I will write you back soon, Heather! I'm way behind on all of my e-mail, but hope to catch up next week after I finish this work project that has taken over my life. Don't want you to think I'm ignoring you!! :-)

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I hear you. Unfortunately the majority of parents are to busy to discipline or fall into the "My child would never do that." category.

eLIZabeth Floyd said...

Your point of view is the best way, but I know that mean spirited children usually are influenced by their parents. I do not know why parents do this, maybe they are to busy or are blind to their own behavior, but it is hurtful to their children and to other children they interact with.

I think children want to do what is right and what makes them happy and being nice to other people accomplishes this.

Thanks for the post and I hope your niece is able to navigate these new attitudes she is experiencing.

Meredith said...

Ugh, I have a littel lump in my throat...being the mom of a special needs kiddo..opens your eyes to this so much! And YES, you are SO right, it starts with the parents! Jake is so lucky!