Politics Aside, We Need to Teach Acceptance, Kindness and Caring.
Today many people in the US are shocked and saddened by our election results. Some people are pleased and hopeful for change.
Politics aside, as adults who love and/or work with children with special needs we need to step up and speak out and teach acceptance, kindness and caring.
One of my goals as a psychologist in schools and in the community is supporting children and teens in understanding how their brains work and accepting who they are. I feel we spend far too much time telling kids what they are not good at and not nearly enough time helping them see where they can excel. This disconnect is a result of adults being uncomfortable with children’s differences and struggles. Acceptance starts at the top. When we accept our kids for who they are and stand behind them in a world that wants to tear them down, see them as “less than” and marginalize their gifts ,we are showing them that they have power and worth and their contributions matter. Let’s all work on acceptance and teach others to do the same.
Kindness is free. It is also hard to do when we feel stressed, put down and scared of what the future may hold. Kindness requires us to pause and put our needs and feelings aside to offer something to someone who needs a ready smile, a helping hand a gentle touch and a real desire to connect. For every teacher or healer your child likes, know that person is sharing kindness in their words and actions. Our children must learn to be kind as well. It can be hard to be the one always getting the help. It can feel like a full-time job to “get better.” More often than not, kids want to feel they can be helpers, too. Give your child opportunities to be kind to others-people they know and people they don’t. Teach by modeling smiling kindly, holding doors, asking questions and really listening to the answers. Let’s be the kindness we want in the world.
Caring takes kindness a step further. We can kindly smile at a stranger. We can care for an ill family member or friend. Caring requires action, giving, sacrifice. Caring is taking time to volunteer at the food pantry or serve Thanksgiving meals to people who otherwise would not have that special meal. Again, children who receive a lot of help, intervention and support will greatly benefit from caring for others who may not be as well off as they are. This builds character, widens perspective, exposes children to diversity and greater awareness that, while some things are hard for them, they are not alone and others have it harder. When children give and care they feel important, empowered and it improves their self esteem.
As the saying goes, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. Our children need to learn they have the power to make their world a better place. Our individual and collective well-being depends on people investing their energies into acceptance, kindness and caring. These thoughts and actions are free, require no special skills and are 100% positive. Let’s go forth and shine our light and teach our children to do the same.