How can I teach my children to be kind to people who are different from us? I am noticing a tendency to put down or find fault in others, in order to feel “better” about themselves. My son may in fact be a bully. I’m not sure how this started in our family, but could you give us some advice for changing it?
You are battling a subconscious tendency we all have to divide ourselves from other people and see them as the enemy. We all have a tendency to see other people as the bad guys and ourselves as they good guys. It doesn’t even matter what the criteria of division is; we latch onto anything that sets us apart as better or smarter than others.
We divide ourselves into Republican vs. Democrat, black vs. white, gay vs. straight, and more. Our personal tates and preferences are even used to divide us: Coke people vs. Pepsi people, Mac people vs. PC people, mayo people versus vs. whip people, and even Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.
We create these divisions by choosing an enemy (someone or something to fight against). If we can find another group of people to make the bad guys, that makes us the good guys, right?
This fear-based tendency is the root cause of most of the problems on the planet. War, racism, prejudice, gossip, backbiting and bullying all come from our ego’s need to think we are better than other people. Most of this behavior is driven by our fears of not being good enough. We create these divisions hoping they will give us a sense of self-worth, hoping the divisions make us better or more special.
In reality, we are all the same.
We are all unique, divine, irreplaceable, infinitely valuable souls, fighting our way through life, scared and struggling most of the time, doing the best we can with what we know, but often not knowing very much. We can be oblivious to the fact that what we have in common is much bigger than any category that divides us.
Here are some suggestions for teaching your children to see other people accurately (as the same as them) with compassion and wisdom:
Hope this helps.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.