Kids and Civility

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Here in the US, we’re in an election year. Sadly, as is more and more the case, this election brings with it polarization, negativity, and flat-out bad behavior. Our children are witnessing all of this.

What are we, as grown-ups, modeling for our youngsters? We encourage our children to get along in school and on the playground, not to bully others, to tell the truth, and to be kind. Yet, any time spent watching television or scrolling Facebook will yield opportunities to see adults being hateful and uncivil to one another.

How do we teach civility to our children: Here are some quick thoughts:

  • Teach and reinforce good manners and politeness
  • Teach, model, and reward respect, especially for differences
  • Foster curiosity; we tend to fear or hate that which we do not understand
  • Discuss the difference between fact and opinion, and highlight everyone’s right to have an opinion
  • Teach assertive rather than aggressive communication
  • Teach conflict resolution skills
  • MODEL CIVILITY. Learn to manage your own temper, if necessary, and to communicate assertively rather than aggressively. Model openness
  • When children are exposed to adults not being nice to one another, engage in conversation about how the adults might choose to act or speak differently. Emphasize that behavior is a choice

I believe in the possibility of a civil society. I believe in change. But we, as the grown-ups, must act like grown-ups. We must model civility and support our children in learning how to treat each other well. It is our responsibility, and it is absolutely worth it.

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