by: Esperanza Cherry
As parents we try to raise kind and loving children and in return we also want to see our children treated with love and kindness. It breaks our heart to see our children being mistreated or abused. We so quickly turn into Momma Bear to defend our child but do we protect the precious children of others with the same passion from our own kids? Are we more concerned that others are good friends to our children than we are about our children being good friends to them?
So the question is, why isn’t our child’s lack of being a good friend being acknowledged? Maybe the negative behaviors aren’t properly addressed because we think it’s just a phase that will be grown out of instead of developed. It is also possible we don’t see our child’s behavior as “that bad.” Whatever the reason may be, we do our children a great disservice in not addressing their heart.
Here are some ways to help your child be the type of friend you would want them to have:
1) Create a zero tolerance Approach
For some things be sure to create a zero tolerance rule and stick to it each and every time. If you don’t want your child to be hit by other kids, then be the first to immediately take your child out of playtime when you see them hurt another child. Be sure to give them the appropriate discipline for their action and discuss with them why they are receiving this consequence. Remind them that this action is never acceptable and it will always be responded with a consequence. You would want the parents of your child’s friend to respond with the same care.
2) Help create a sincere heart
In a child’s mind it’s hard for them to see past their own needs and wants. They are living in an “it’s all about me” world. It is our job to help them see the rest of the population in that world. Let’s help our child be the caring friend we want them to have. Teach your child to rejoice about the celebrations in their friend’s lives. If their friend is excited to show your child their new shoes, teach your child to rejoice with their friend and take a sincere interest.
Another way to help your child escape the “It’s all about me” world is to help train your child to engage in conversations by asking about the other person and how they are doing and feeling without turning the conversation back on them. Allow opportunities for your child to care completely about the emotions and concerns of others.
3) Avoid the master manipulator
Children are observant and can learn the right words and actions to take to get themselves out of trouble. Remember that the goal is to do our part in raising a kind and loving child, this means that though we may want to believe the “I’m sorry mom” and let it go with a simple apology it must sometimes come with a consequence. Not doing this teaches them that saying just those words allows them to act selfishly and do what they want without repercussion. Be sure your child understands that being sorry means they feel sorrow and regret for how they hurt their friend, it’s not just a statement to get out of trouble. This is your opportunity to teach your child empathy. When your child says sorry even with an insincere heart, be sure to thank your child for saying the words but that their action still means there is a consequence. It is an important life lesson that they will have to learn, you can’t just say sorry and avoid the consequence.
It is important for us, as parents, to love our children enough to help hold them accountable for their actions and help them to act out of a sincere heart to love, feel remorse and empathize with their friends. Let’s help develop our children to be the kind of friends we long for them to have.