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How To Keep Children From Modeling Aggressive Adult Behavior

11/09/2016 04:18 pm ET | Updated Nov 09, 2016
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Over the course of the past year, we have witnessed some extremely aggressive behaviors from adults and communities. Some call it bullying. It isn’t.

The aggressive behavior we’ve witnessed is far from classic textbook bullying. It is an extremely aggressive behavior that some children may feel compelled to mimic because they assume that it results in reward.

We cannot allow our children to think that this behavior is appropriate or that it ends in reward.

Although we would like to see adults behave with civility whether in a public arena or in a small gathering, unfortunately, not all adults are capable of being civil. Most aggression is learned behavior from role models. While bullying exists among kids and teens, we cannot compare it to the adult aggression we’ve seen.

Parents want their children to feel safe. That can be difficult when adults are struggling with their own feelings of fear. Our children should feel safe at home, at school – everywhere.

Most of us work so hard to be kind and civil to others. So when an adult displays public scenes of aggression, it dilutes all the work we’ve done to teach our children the proper behaviors. Adults are supposed to be role models and should always be conscious of their actions in front of children.

We must stress kindness now more than ever!

It’s important to educate children of all ages about these behaviors.

Be Respectful Of Others No Matter what our beliefs, thoughts, ideas, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender, we must treat one another with the same respect we expect to be treated with. We are ALL people and we must honor our differences and respect and celebrate our similarities ... NO MATTER™!

Being Kind We know that an essential part of finding kindness in the world is to LOOK for it. Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Look past unkindness, meanness and cruelty and find the kindness, compassion and empathy.

Character And Empathy

Studies suggest that kids are more likely to develop a strong sense of empathy when their own emotional needs are being met. When kids know they can count on their parents and caregivers for emotional and physical support, they are more likely to show empathy to others.

Empathize with your child and show them how to feel compassion for others.

Children who feel valued are more likely to value others and demonstrate respect.

It’s easier for kids to empathize with their immediate family and close friends, yet, it can be challenging to understand and feel for people outside of that circle. It can be equally as difficult if your children hear others not being empathetic. Encourage your child to talk about and consider the feelings of others who are particularly vulnerable or in need. Talk about how those people could be helped and comforted.

Even when kids feel empathy for others, societal pressures and biases can block their ability to express their concern. Encourage kids to name those stereotypes and biases, and to talk about their anger, envy, shame and other negative emotions. Model conflict resolution and anger management in your own actions, and let your kids see how you work through challenging feelings in your own life.

These are positive steps in teaching our children appropriate behaviors.

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