October is National Bullying Awareness Month, and one way to help combat bullying is to teach kindness. With that in mind, I’m re-sharing my review of Galit Breen’s Kindness Wins from 2015. It’s a truly wonderful tool in your parenting arsenal, and heaven knows there’s not a parent alive that can’t benefit from a great tool.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them. I purchased a copy of Kindness Wins with my own money. All opinions found here are mine alone.
If you are reading this, it’s obvious you are plugged in and living online. Internet, email, social media – it’s become and integral part of our lives and unlike those of us born (more than, ahem) twenty or so years ago (cringes), today’s children have exposure to technology and various forms of social media starting at a very early age.
Unplugging completely is a pretty drastic measure and I’m sure not an option that suits many of us, and it’s near impossible for teens once they have started utilizing social media. However, if you have spent any time on social media, you know that people tend to speak more freely – and more unfiltered – when online, and that trolls and meanness can be found everywhere. There is a lot of talk about how to stop online bullying. Author Galit Breen approaches it from a more proactive position: her book Kindness Wins serves as a resource for teaching our kids how to be kind online, right from the start.
SYNOPSISKindness Wins by Galit Breen
Published by Booktrope on March 26, 2015
Buy on Amazon
Buy from your local independent bookstore via Bookshop.org
If kindness wins, accountability rules. The need for this mantra is never clearer than when scrolling through posts and comments online. Approximately four out of ten kids (42 percent) have experienced cyberbullying. When we were young, our bullies weren't usually strangers. They were the kids who passed mean notes about us in class, the ones who didn't let us sit at their table during lunch, and the ones who tripped us in the hallway or embarrassed us in gym class. Cyberbullying isn't all that different from the playground bullying of our youth and nightmares. But with social media, our bullies have nonstop access to us--and our kids. In fact, we're often "friends" with our bullies online.
When freelance writer Galit Breen's kids hinted that they'd like to post, tweet, and share photos on Instagram, Breen took a look at social media as a mom and as a teacher and quickly realized that there's a ridiculous amount of kindness terrain to teach and explain to kids and some adults before letting them loose online. So she took to her pen and wrote a how-to book for parents who are tackling this issue with their kids.
Kindness Wins covers ten habits to directly teach kids as they're learning how to be kind online. Each section is written in Breen's trademark parent-to-parent-over-coffee style and concludes with resources for further reading, discussion starters, and bulleted takeaways. She ends the book with two contracts one to share with peers and one to share with kids.
Just like we needed to teach our children how to walk, swim, and throw a ball, we need to teach them how to maneuver kindly online. This book will help you do just that.
I’ve talked about the book in an earlier post written in association with the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion movement, and it still stands to the test of time. When my own (then) middle schooler entered the age of increased online involvement, I’ve realized that the basic ground rules that we had set – from the mom-observable ones, like I would get the password to his devices and that he needed my approval before downloading any apps, to the more presumptive ones, in that he follows the “do onto others rules” and that he acknowledges that once something is out there, it never really goes away – well, these rules are only a jumping off point. Galit’s book is one that helped my guy (and my then 9-year-old, in all honesty) maneuver the difficult tween and teen years with tools in hand and hopefully, more confidence.
I really appreciated the rules and resources Kindness Wins offers up. One chapter that struck me as an incredible life lesson in general was the third “Learn How to Call Out Each Other”. In it, she talks about teaching our kids how to call out bad behavior, to stand up to it and to find a way to turn around negative games or comments to the positive. Admittedly, this is hard enough for an adult to do – but imagine the effect that learning how to do this as a child could have on them and the people around them as they grow up! Imagine how much easier school could be if haters got called out for their meanness. It was an eye-opening thought.
This is just one of the many rules and resources her book offers up. Other chapters cover topics like body shaming, the permanency of what is posted online, the dangers of the perceived anonymity online, and the currency of the online “like”. It’s written in a way that makes it accessible to both parents AND teens.
She also includes two contracts. One is the more expected “parent to kid” contract. The second is a “parent to parent contract” – a mission statement of sorts to hold our OWN selves accountable.
Honestly, it’s a book from which we ALL could benefit.
I give Kindness Wins an enthusiastic five stars.
Have your children/teens had to deal with online bullying? How did you handle it? And, did you set up rules for online engagement with your kids before they started using social media (if they do)? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
Looking for more resources to fight cyberbullying? I’m teaming up with Allconnect to share their resource on cyberbullying and fighting online harassment.
Their guide includes:
- Detailed Infographics on Types and Signs of Cyberbullying
- Steps on Handling Online Harassment
- Resources for Victims of Cyberbullying
Click here to read this helpful resource.