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Inclusion Column

Children don’t do what you say… they do what you do

by Misty Moore, Elementary Counselor

Although we can’t and shouldn’t manage our childrens’ relationships, there is something more powerful we can do as parents and guardians to foster and cultivate kindness, respect and inclusive attitudes and actions toward all.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “children won’t do what you say, they will do what you do”. The understanding is that when our kids see us behave a certain way, they will most likely interpret it as permission to do the same.

If we believe this to be true, then being a role model in our own relationships is one of the most powerful ways to teach our children about healthy relationships, inclusion and respect and dignity for all.

Here are just a few examples of how we can do this in our day to day lives:

  1. Stop judgmental comments against others.
  2. Don’t participate in gossip about friends, family or community members.
  3. Don’t forward or share mean or biased posts, memes or jokes via chats or at the dinner table.
  4. Don’t behave aggressively towards others, such as other drivers on the road, staff in stores or people in our homes, etc.
  5. Don’t label people, or groups of people, and always use people-first language (for reference, read this past column).

This may be a short list, but it is not necessarily an easy one. Inevitably, we will mess up. So what happens when we do? We apologize and model what it is to be human, make mistakes and fix them. Then, we make a commitment to do better for ourselves, for others and for the children who are watching and learning from what we do.