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 confused...as 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 larger...one 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?)