As we live in a world very negatively portrayed by the media, there are times where we have to stop and ponder on what we are teaching our kids. I have written and talked about this before but, as I was reading a message from the principal of a great Florida School, it struck me again that too many people are just stuck in this negativity and exaggeration... and total misconception of reality.

But it sells better than saying that millions of young Americans go to school very happily on a daily basis... And that our schools are actually places where many, many young people bloom into amazing young adults who become the leaders of this world.

I attended the State of Florida's Marching Band Championships finals this past weekend. There were about 50 full bands there, all top of their regions. Hundreds of young people working together to create one of the most amazing shows where cooperation meets talent meets hard work meets dedication meets commitment meets passion meets GROWTH! Kids who make it through hours and hours of rehearsing time and preparation and learning new moves and music and also make it to all their classes successfully. Hundreds of those kids! WHY ISN'T THAT IN THE NEWS?

The state of education is NOT that bad! The media CHOOSES to show us the bad side, which in reality is minute in the scale of this country. Ok, maybe it could be better. Of course, there are problems, like everywhere else and that's a good thing because it pushed people to always strive. But maybe if we started to focus on what works, there would be more of that.

Now on to a favorite of the news in recent weeks: bullying. This brings us back to Mrs. Kanter the Prinicipal I was mentioning before, who very wisely states: "Bullying is actually defined as the act of systematically and chronologically inflicting physical harm or emotional distress on a student." Systematically and chronologically... There is a fine line between teasing and bullying maybe... Or there are simply kids who are kids. For uninformed, busy parents, it is easy to jump at somebody's throat and call another child a bully when all they hear in the media is that all schools are populated by mean, nasty, dangerous children who are out to get your kids and make their life miserable.

As this Principal also tells us: "Students must take on the responsibility of behaving morally and ethically. However, we realize that children of all ages can be unkind and that they are still in the learning stages of empathy, tolerance, and acceptance of others. The students need the adults in their lives to model appropriate actions and to teach them a wide variety of ways to deal with conflict. Children benefit from instruction on how to respond to teasing and hurtful comments but they profit more from seeing how to treat others. Bystanders must learn that standing up for what is right is crucial to ending social exclusion and teasing.

Parents are sounding boards for their children. If a child complains about how they are being treated by someone at school then the parent needs to ask some probing questions. Where? When? How frequently? Who began the problem? Parents need to be careful about jumping to the conclusion that their child is being bullied. Often what is happening is the typical experimental social behavior of children and it should not be labeled “bullying.” Listening and discussion are very important. Help your child to identify ways to deal with minor issues and certainly report any major issues. Be sure to keep an eye on computer messages that your child sends."

Indeed, children will be children and sometimes they have to learn that what they are doing may be hurtful. They are not necessarily mean, they might still be learning. They might not realize that a random comment can be very painful to a child whose parents are going through a divorce. How could they? Their parents are loving and caring for each other and they have no idea what it may feel like to see your parents argue all the time or to have to go from one house to the other every week. This child would have to learn about empathy and realize that the world is full of different people going through different experiences. It takes time, and maybe, much as this child's parents get along very well, they may not have enough time to spend together for him or her to learn about these things...

Parents, more than anybody, have to look at the bigger picture. Get the facts, look at the REAL reality, not the one that the media portrays. Look at your kid's life, follow him on Twitter and be her friend on Facebook, talk to her, spend time with him, let them see the kind of person you are.

If you want your children to be organized, keep your house tidy and be organized yourself.
If you want them to be courteous and nice, stop cursing at every other driver when you take them to school.
If you want them to be honest citizens, show them honesty at every level of life: stay in line without trying to jump up, keep within the speed limit and run after the person who just dropped her phone in the street.
If you want your kids to live a healthy lifestyle, do your workout, give up smoking and cook healthy meals.
If you want them to be respectful, treat the gas station clerk the same way you would treat the most important person in the world.
If you want them to like school, stop complaining about having to go to work everyday.
If you want them to enjoy life, teach them to look at the positive and make a gratitude list every day.

And I could go on and on...

I made this little calculation a while ago, about how much time kids actually spend out of school. I'll let you do the math. Don't forget that kids are only at school 5 days out the 7 of every week and that school ends early to mid afternoon. Also remember that the school year is on average about 40 weeks, not counting teachers' planning days and public holidays. Then you might see that education is not just about school! Kids spend way more time away from school and then YOU, as a parent, are the biggest role model. Be there for them and lead by example!

Unless you want them to follow the media lead... Or anyone else's...

Author's Bio: 

Florence Bernard focuses on building character to create success at school. With her book, Better At School, The Essential Guide to Help Kids Improve At Schools, parents can tackle the first obstacles to their children's success. With her website, they can use further free resources and coaching packages to build self motivated kids in charge of their future.

Florence Bernard, Parenting Advisor: 954-903-0655