Let your child know that any comment that is insulting to someone else will not be allowed. In addition to being painful to the victim, such prejudicial comments breed hate. If your child does make a comment, then she must apologize. Most important, the apology must be genuine and delivered sincerely. You may need to spend time talking to your child about the victim's pain.Ask,"How would you feel if someone said that to you?" so that your son or daughter really understands the ramifications.Your message is, What you did caused someone else to hurt. So what will you do to make up for that pain? Children must realize that although they cannot take back the hurt caused from stinging words or deeds, they are responsible for their actions. Even the youngest child can apologize, draw a picture, or phone the victim to say,"I'm sorry." Here are some examples for helping them understand:
"Telling Maria she talks weird is hurtful. She speaks a different language at home and is just learning to speak Eng-lish.You need to apologize to her." "The joke you told Josh is not funny because it made fun of his religion. It's wrong. I can't allow you to hurt other people's feelings.What do you plan to do to let him know you are sorry?"
The First 21 Days
Organize a Formal Family Debate Night, a great way to contest common problems in a supportive atmosphere. It is also a way for kids to practice communication skills and hear different points of view. Not only will your narrow-minded kid get a chance to hear a different side to his biased attitude, but he may just change his opinion. Do remember that each member's opinion is considered equally important, and everyone has a right to be heard.That also means your kids do not have to agree with your opinion, and you must respectfully listen to your kids' views as well. Use these tips to make your debates fun, as well as provide the opportunity to help change your kid's biased attitude:
• Set Fair Fighting rules. Five rules must be enforced: (1) Everyone is listened to. (2) No put-downs are allowed. (3) You may disagree, but do so respectfully. (4) Talk calmly. (5) Everyone gets a turn.
• Create a suggestion box. Many families set aside a small box for members to suggest family issues or topics they'd like to address at the next debate.Young kids can draw pictures of ideas.
• Use current events. Search the news for debate topics that might pique your kids' interests. Possibilities for younger kids are not protecting bears in the forest, not being allowed to ride bikes or skateboards on the sidewalk, and not funding art or music in school. Possibilities for older kids are lowering the drinking age, raising the driving age, legalizing marijuana, abortion, the Iraq War, legalization of gambling, restitution to black Americans, and the death penalty.
• Debate family issues. Topics can also be hot button issues in your home. For younger kids, they can cover rules, sibling conflicts, chores, privileges, allowances, and TV choices. For older kids, consider quality time with parents, curfews, computer access, R-rated movies, car use, choice of peers, and dating and romance.
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