Now is a great time to remind your kids about social graces and kindness.  Going back to school is often filled with the challenges of new friends, teachers and personalities.  Being uncomfortable with the unfamiliar can cause kids to talk about people and situations in a negative way.  This has the potential to influence the perception of others perhaps unjustly.

 Children don’t have the capacity to really think through all the possible consequences of their actions.

Their friendships often fluctuate and can have several “best friends” in any given month. When feelings get hurt and betrayal is felt there is an urge to reciprocate the pain which often comes in the form of name calling, teasing, and /or physical altercations,  and now “cyber bullying.”

 Monitoring behavior has become even more complex with the use of technology.

One problem is that many adults are setting bad examples by sending inappropriate pictures, making negative statements about others including their employers and coworkers and forwarding emails and texts that were meant to be private.

And, children learn from what they see and experience.  Unfortunately, there are too many negative role models and not enough discussion regarding the unintended consequences.

Be sure to check in with your children and be aware of any significant behavioral changes or signs of depression.  Ask them about their friends and relationships.  Be aware of changes in self-esteem or evidence of physical harm.

Listen carefully.

And talk with your kids about using caution when sharing information about others or themselves. Once it is written and sent, it is out of their control.  An apology can be given but it does not take away the hurt.  Teach them how to handle their conflicts in person using positive communication and focusing on respectful solutions.

 Remember… we don’t have to like or be friends with everybody, however, it would be great if we could just be polite and kind.

Thumper said it best: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

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