The Meanest Word in Preschool

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From a really interesting blog post – it has made me stop and think about the consequences of our actions –

“We model friendships for our children. When we leave out a new mom at our child’s school because we haven’t taken the time to know her yet, we are modeling how to exclude someone. When we whisper on the playground about the bratty kid who no one likes, we are modeling how to shame someone else when we don’t know the whole story about why they feel so angry. When we comment on someone’s blog that “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read,” we’re showing our kids that it’s OK to be critical for no reason (though I have to admit, reading that on one of my essays made me laugh).

We are so far past common decency in our grown-up lives, that it’s no wonder our children are coming home with an arsenal of unkind words. We Yelp our frustrations with service providers and restaurants, we lay on the horn because we’re too busy to wait for someone, we “hate-read” blogs and “hate-watch” reality TV, because it gives us something to complain about.

It takes a lot of energy to be that disagreeable. Energy that could be used to teach our children what kindness and compassion look like. We’ve barreled past the point of being able to police ourselves, apparently. Websites like The Huffington Post have instituted new comment moderation strategies, where readers are no longer allowed to comment anonymously. People allow themselves to say things that they would never put their name to, when they are able to wear the mask of anonymity online. It trickles down to our kids.

Our little people feel it. They are watching us. They are watching us be cruel to each other. They are watching us speak poorly of our friends, and of ourselves. They are translating our anger into words like “stupid” and “loser,” and they are lashing out at the people who are closest to them, because they are trying to figure out how this world works. Sometimes it doesn’t work. And then what do we do? How do we explain that to our kids, so that they grow up to be the problem-solvers and the peace-makers?”