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Empowering Children to Realize Their Potential for Good

By Connie K. Grier, M.Ed.

King graveOn a recent trip down South with my sons' sixth grade class to travel the Civil Rights' Trail, I had the opportunity to address students who are younger than I am used to presenting to.  As we stood at the grave sites of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta, we spoke to the students about the sacrifices that have been made by many on all of our behalves; affording us the opportunity to say, do and create things that we could not even imagine.

One child responded, "But that was Martin Luther King.  We are only sixth grade kids!"

Therein lies the problem, folks. 

Thoughts like these create the space for children to absent themselves from responsibility and accountability when it comes to matters of social justice and ethical behavior in school.

As parents, we must instill into our youngsters that although they are only children, within their sphere of influence they can strike a mighty blow against cruelty.  I addressed this with my 6th grade captive audience.  I reminded them that every day, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, they played a role in behaviors that hurt others.  Whether they were the antagonist, the ones that perpetrated the behavior against victims, or bystanders, those that saw wrongdoing and remained silent in the face of it, those behaviors caused hurt feelings, anger, and oftentimes lowered the self-esteem of the victim.  What can we as parents do to help our children remember this?


  • Remind them that "tattling" "ratting" or "snitching" is ALWAYS the right thing to do when their peers are being hurt, whether physically or emotionally. We do not always have to "stand up" to the schoolyard bully and risk physical harm, but we can pull an adult to the side and make them aware of the situation


  • Be sure to give them "scenario situations." Ask them "how would you handle this...?" Respectfully listen to their answers, and then suggest alternative ways to deal with the scenario that may net more positive results. Don't start a lecture series...conversational mode works best!


  • Teach them the art of indirect comforting. After witnessing a bullying situation, taking the victim's mind off of the event by discussing something totally unrelated often helps to bolster spirits and often reinforces to all those watching where your child stands regarding bullying.


Taking the time to have these crucial conversations about ethical fitness with your child can not only reinforce where your family stands, but also reinforces what your child should tolerate themselves.

Photo Credit: www78; Reel Youth

Posted on May 11, 2012 by Connie K. Grier, M.Ed.

Connie Grier is an educator/ educational consultant, a parent of twin boys, and a parent advocate. She has over twenty years experience in the Philadelphia school district and is the founder of a non-profit, The RESPECT Alliance, an organization devoted to respectfully empowering parents so that positive, effective and collaborative relationships are maintained between the home and school settings.  Connie is also a journalist  for the Examiner  Follow her on Twitter 

c 2012 Connie Grier. All rights reserved. Please contact for permission to reprint. 

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Permalink   Comments (2)   Send to a Friend

Tags: *Parent Engagement at Home , Building trust & respect, Bullying Prevention, Character Development, Communicating, Cooperation, Empathy, Learning environment, Parents as teachers, Social Skills

Posted May 15, 2012 by Connie Grier
Thank you, Tara
Yes, while school is responsible for educating the child, education of the heart and mind begins at home600 

Posted May 12, 2012 by Tara Colquitt
Behavior is learned at home. If we don't talk to our children, then someone else will. Great points in this article Connie. 


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