Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Being Thankful By Teaching Tolerance
Using the Holidays to Teach Life Lessons

by Mary Wynne Cox

November 01, 2010

I can’t believe it is already November! The holiday season officially begins this month. This is a great time of year to plan celebrations with family and friends and to reflect on the past year. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday as it is a time to give thanks without the gifts and trappings and to truly enjoy the season with our families.

This is the perfect time to teach your children the lesson of being thankful. As many of you are aware, bullying has come to the forefront of the media and is escalating in epidemic proportions. You’ve heard about the recent suicides of Asher Brown, 13; Justin Aaberg, 15; Tyler Clementi, 18 and Billy Lucas, 15. The fact of the matter is that for every 25 children who attempt to commit suicide, one child succeeds. This means that for each of these four children, 100 other children have attempted suicide. Being bullied to the point that a child takes his or her life is heart-wrenching and we, as parents, should make the lesson of being thankful and grateful an important message this holiday season.

According to a survey taken by Tiger X Club at Lebanon High School, 58% of students claimed they received texts about rumors regarding other students. To address the issue of bullying, State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, wants to create a new law that would require schools to implement new anti-bullying policies. Parents are so worried that their child could be a target or even possibly a bully themselves that schools are initiating new policies to protect children against bullies. I believe that the children, too, must all be taught about bullying at a very young age. Cartoon Network recently launched their “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign to educate the 75-85% of children who are witnesses to bullying. So why should they target witnesses to bullies? Because strength in numbers is a vital part to combating bullying.

Over 160,000 elementary students stayed home from school last year because they were afraid of a bully. 19% of all elementary students are bullied each year. It is time that we teach our children right from wrong — bullying is not acceptable—ever. We need to teach children that if they witness an incident, whether towards themselves or others, they need to report it to a teacher or parent as many times as it takes to put an end to bullying. Many children are afraid that they will become a target of the bully if they report the problem, but you must teach your child to take the high road and be a good citizen by not allowing anyone to be bullied in their presence.

The best prevention for bullying is teaching your children the meaning of tolerance. As parents, the lesson of accepting all people regardless of their differences is the right way to conduct your life. Lessons on tolerance can begin as young as three years old. Teaching your child to treat others with respect and to never treat someone negatively simply because of their race, gender, skin color, disability or otherwise is imperative. What a boring place this world would be if we were all alike! Make a point of introducing them to others who are different than he or she is. Remember the lesson in To Kill a Mockingbird: Always think about how you would feel in the other person’s shoes. Most importantly, be sure to practice what you preach. Don’t say negative things about other people in front of your children. Believe it or not, much of their future actions and beliefs are forged at home—you are your child’s best teacher—first and foremost.

We will be covering the topic of bullying in our March issue called “March Against Bullying” where we will cover this issue much more thoroughly. If you have suggestions or would like to help us in this initiative, e-mail your ideas to

In the meantime, during this season of giving thanks, make sure that you instill the message of being thankful for your family, friends, and all people in our world (regardless of their unique differences). If we, as parents, encourage our children to be kind at a young age, to be aware of how they are treating others (and how they are being treated) our children will not only avoid bullying, but they will also pass on the torch of tolerance to others they encounter throughout their lifetime.

We would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful to have you as a reader and welcome your feedback and comments. Please feel free to contact me directly at