Written by Barbara Gilmour, NJ Mom Squad Team.
Kids today are bombarded on a daily basis in school, in their neighborhoods, and on TV with the idea that the rude, disrespectful person is the “cool” person. They see people they look up to as role models sending the message that the unkind person is cool. They watch as the kids who are acting out, destroying others’ belongings, bullying in school, to name just a few negative behaviors, seem to gain the acceptance of their peers. Many wonder, “Do I have to act like this to be accepted?” “Is this what “cool” is really all about?”
Parents, community leaders, educators, and the responsible media have a role to play in helping kids avoid this trap. Character education and social skills development are key roles for camps, schools, after-school, community, and other programs. This is especially true for addressing bullying, which is the ultimate in “uncool.”
We need to go beyond dealing with bullying after it happens or teaching kids how to react to it when it does. We need to work with kids to equip them to resist the deception that bullying is cool. We can help our kids redefine “cool” to mean kind, caring, and respectful. We want them to learn that “the kind kid is the cool kid, not the bully.” “It’s cool to live The Golden Rule.” “You can’t be truly cool if you are unkind.”
Teaching children manners and social skills is the easiest way to accomplish this. Children who are exposed to learning these skills at an early age are not only equipped to embrace the “Kind is Cool” concept, but will go into school and other situations with more confidence. Having a good foundation in manners frees a child up to be himself/herself because they are not worried about how to act.