This post about teaching kids how to be kind is sponsored by Google. All opinions are my own. #ItsCoolToBeKind #BeInternetAwesome #Sponsored Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Now that both of my kids are in elementary school, I'm becoming more aware of bullying. Although so far, my kids haven't experienced any bullying, I still want to be prepared. It's equally important I teach my kids how to be kind to others. Just as I don't want my own kids being bullied, I'd hate for them to be the ones who are unkind. Both real-life and cyberbullying are major problems that my kids will likely face. They are still pretty young, but I want to be prepared. So, I am working on teaching my kids how to be kind through real-life actions that will someday translate to online actions. Teaching Kindness Through Community Service One way to teach kindness is through service to others and to our community. Last weekend, we went to a local beach to lead our own little beach clean up. I spent a lot of time talking with my kids about how doing community service - taking time to give back to your community - is one way you can spread kindness. Doing community service instills confidence and creates positive self-esteem in kids. There is ample research discussing how giving back actually helps the volunteer just as much, if not more, than the recipient of that service. In this case, I talked to my kids about why it's important that we take care of the planet and how giving back helps people in our community. I could see the pride and excitement in my kids' eyes as they walked along the beach, collecting trash. A few people actually stopped to ask us if we were part of a group doing a cleanup. I explained that we created our own little cleanup day because we spent many summer days at that beach and we wanted to give back. It was a simple little way for me to teach my kids about giving back and doing a kind deed. Discussing Kindness as a Family This little experience reminded me that kindness starts at home. How we interact with people and how we talk to our kids will ultimately determine if they are kind to others. We need to teach our kids to treat others as we'd like to be treated - the golden rule still applies. It's not just important to teach our kids how to interact with people in real life, but also how to treat people kindly online too. Families can play a major role in preventing bullying and cyberbullying by teaching our kids respect, kindness and positivity in real life and online. To start, we should focus on how our family communicates and interacts with people. If we are kind toward one another and to other people with whomn we interact, our kids will see those interactions and mimic them. My kids also do watch what I do online. They are still really young, so I don't allow them access to surfing or social sites just yet. However, just as it's important that I talk to them about being kind to all people, I also realized I need to start talking to them about being kind online. That's where Google comes in. Be Internet Awesome When I attended Mom 2.0 last spring in Austin, I had a chance to meet some of the Google team to learn about their Be Internet Awesome and Cool to be Kind campaigns. Both campaigns are bringing awareness to cyberbullying and steps we can take to protect our kids while also promoting kindness online. The internet is so important in our daily lives. We spend so much time online. We need to prepare our kids on how to stay safe and also be kind online. Be Internet Awesome is Google's free program that's designed to teach kids how to be positive digital citizens so they can be safe and explore the online world with confidence. The program is available in both English and Spanish. There are lessons and online games, including Interland, with tons of resources for educators and parents. Be Internet Awesome is all about achievable ways to protect yourself and be kind online. The key words include smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave. The goal of these keywords is to help kids communicate responsibly, avoid scams, protect personal information, be kind and positive to others online, and how to be brave and talk to an adult. My son spent a lot of time playing Interland and he loved it! I could see the joy on his face every time he was able to help out one of his neighbors. He loved collecting the little hearts and giving them to his neighbors. Besides Interland, there are teacher curriculum, family guide, and tips with a complete resource to help families learn and play together. a complete resource on the basics your family can build on and play with or learn together. How to Avoid and Stop Cyberbuylling We can prepare our kids for the possibility of cyberbullying by talking to them about our online personas. We need to educate them about what to look for to spot cyberbullying. First, we need to remind our kids that behind every username or avatar, there is an actual real person. So, we should treat them as we would want to be treated. If our kids do experience cyberbullying, we can prepare them for how they can choose to act. They can, ignore the bullying and not respond, block the person, and/or report them. Most apps and online sites have places you can report harassment and bad behavior. If you do know someone who is being bullied or cyberbullied, you can be an upstander. You can help someone who is being targeted. There are several ways you can be an upstander. You can: \tCall out the mean behavior (not the person), saying it’s not cool \tSay something nice about the target in a post or comment \tGet friends to compliment the target online, too \tOffline, you can invite the person to hang out with you on the playground or sit with you at lunch. If you don’t feel comfortable helping out publicly, that’s fine. \tYou can also support the target privately. You can… \tAsk how they’re doing in a text or direct message \tSay something kind or complimentary in an anonymous post, comment, or direct message. If you’re using media that lets you stay anonymous. \tTell them you’re there for them if they want to talk after school These are just some of the ways that you can combat and stand up to cyberbullying. What is most important is to acknowledge it is happening and take action that you're comfortable with. The Cool to Be Kind and Be Internet Awesome campaigns offer a lot of resources to help you feel confident that you can be safe online while spreading kindness to everyone. A lot of the issues with cyberbullying and real-life bullying stem from a lack of understanding of other people's feelings. We can build empathy and kindness in our kids right now. As adults, we are responsible for how our kids treat others. We need to instill in them good values and the golden rule. We need to teach our kids how to be kind so we can all spread more kindness to everyone. It can be cool to be kind, if we just take some time to learn, reflect and try.