I’ve spent the last two months teaching leadership principles to elementary school students with my dog, Mr. Blue
. It’s the closest thing to being a rock star I’ll ever experience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try walking the halls of an elementary school with a dog at your side. The seas part, everyone falls down for a hug, and your “coolness” status as an adult is off the charts.
I have spent my life learning and sharing leadership principles with adults. The harsh reality is most don’t have the desire to discover these for themselves, so I decided to focus on a more accepting group: children. Children are so open-minded, impressionable, and creative. The sooner these principles are imprinted upon them, the more productive and successful they will be throughout their entire lives and in the lives of others.
One of the discussions we have is called “Herding isn’t leading.” It’s about being kind and respectful to others and that bullies who bark and bite are not to be tolerated. It’s a very important point that the teachers often ask me to emphasize. The sad reality is that this point was inspired by something that happened to me as an adult. I had a boss that actually got in my face, yelling and frothing at the mouth and snapped his teeth one inch away from my nose.
Unfortuately there is a plethora of adult bullies out in the world ready to bark at anyone any chance they get. Look at the trash that’s on TV with the reality shows. Is this really how we want our youth to behave? We tell them not to post mean comments on Facebook yet look at the hateful language strewn all across the Internet in response to articles and blogs. No one even discusses the issues or has a healthy debate; it’s just attack the individual and if their beliefs differ from yours, call them a name, any name, the viler the better.
So why do we keep harping on our children to behave in a civil manner when we don’t and we expose them to it via TV, movies, and the Internet? Children see it all and are imprinted by everything they take in from zero to ten years old. If we want them to be kind and compassionate, we’ve got to show them what that means. And this means fervently guarding what they watch, with whom they interact, and what they observe from us.
I never saw my father
or mother lash out or bully another person. In fact there were times when I thought they were too
kind or passive. But I knew if I ever resorted to being disrespectful or a bully I would be in trouble like I had never even imagined. Adults need to stop being hypocrites. If we want children to be respectful, we must set the standard, every time, all the time. Until then, all this talk about anti-bullying crusades aimed at children is just barking up the wrong tree.