Based on observations and situations from this past week.
1. Teach respect in all situations.
If you teach your kid it is OK to rejoice in an enemy's death, you'd be surprised how quickly that translates to spitefulness and rejoicing in victory over anyone they decide is even mildly annoying. Treating others the way you would want to be treated is a basic lesson in respectful values. If you don't want anyone to dance on your grave, don't have a party on someone else's. I don't care what they did. Don't stoop to that level.
2. Don't use the word "retard."
Or "nigger". Or "spic." Or "fag." Or any other word intended as immanently offensive to another group or person. It isn't funny, it isn't casual, and I do not care who you are or how you think you are using the word. When you teach kids that "retard" is OK to use when you think something is dumb, stupid, ugly, nasty, etc. then you should not be surprised when they start treating people they regard as "retarded" or who act differently as if those people are dumb, stupid, ugly, nasty, etc. If you use these words in any way, don't be surprised when they start bullying kids they view as not even human beings- because that is what you taught them- with any of these ugly words. With rights comes responsibility, and we in this country have the awesome and wonderful right of free speech- and the awesome responsibility that comes with it.
3. Be aware of your child.
Home is not the only place kids pick up bullying and nastiness. Their own insecurity makes them sensitive to language and behavior of others. Pay attention. If another parent approaches you with an issue, address it immediately. Be sure your child understands what is acceptable and what is not. Would your child want to be ignored on the playground? Would they want to be called an ugly word? Would they want their pretend play laughed at and scorned by others? Would they want others throwing sticks or mulch at them? No? Then they shouldn't be doing these things. Would they want others to help push them on the swing? Would they want other kids to invite them to play, and explain the game to them? Would they want others to say hello to them? Would they like it if others shared their toys with them? Yes? Then they should be doing these things. Kids need help negotiating this, because they are developmentally wired to be selfish as natural self-preservation. Reminding them to treat others as they wish to be treated is an excellent way of helping them understand that other people have feelings and peers make potential friends.
4. Be aware of other children.
Is your child being bullied, picked on, teased, ignored? We can't control what others do, but we can control ourselves. Teaching your child appropriate responses to unsocial behavior and language helps that child understand how to show respect in all situations- including unfortunate ones. Steer clear of other children who are mean to you. Recognize when they are being mean and let adults know there is a problem. KNow who your friends really are. Peers have a potential of being friends, but not all of them are friendly. I have a Plan B whenever we go to the park, because there are some families that simply do not get the idea of treating other people with respect, and think it is funny or "just being boys" when their child is mean and ugly to other children. When I see them coming, we just leave.
What would the world be like if we showed respect to other people, no matter what?