Since I’ve started blogging, one of my causes has been online civility. I grew up near a small town 40 miles from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie. Being nice and following the Golden Rule were important values in my upbringing.
I love the communities of bloggers and readers that have been built up through the Internet … places where parents and others can go to find encouragement and support. But it saddens me when people use the Internet to criticize or ridicule others.
Here are some posts I’ve written on the topics of online civility and kindness:
- Yay for the Thumper Theory: “If You Can’t Say Something and Nice . . . Don’t Say Nothing at All” – my third blog post ever (about figure-skating forums, ideas which can be applied to any online forum or community)
- Do You Follow the Thumper Theory?
- Try a Little Kindness
- The Golden Rule for Back to School
In my communities of mom bloggers, I’ve heard (and expressed) frustrations about instances where people are just being mean online. Most mom bloggers are sharing their lives, activities, and ideas for little or no money. They deserve love and appreciation for the amazing work they’re doing both online and with their own families.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and I’d love to see an end to bullying by and of kids AND adults. Here are some things you can do to help mom bloggers – and everyone – online.
Be compassionate toward others online.
When someone has had a horrible experience, please be empathetic. A post I published here on helping our daughters have healthy body images was met on a Pinterest board with much support along with one commenter blaming bad parenting for eating disorders.
Fortunately, the commenter appears to have removed his comment, but it’s just not right to blame all parents. Of course there are many examples of bad parenting causing problems such as eating disorders in children. But there are many loving, attentive parents who’ve had to deal with heart-breaking problems such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and other issues their children have struggled with. I was lucky with my own kids … and people like me who haven’t had horrible experiences need to remember the saying “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Be supportive of bloggers with less training and experience than you.
You might not approve of a blog’s design or the way a blogger does things online, but it takes a long time to learn the best ways to do things in blogging. And there’s always something new to learn!
In mom blogging, there are always teachers and others with more training and experience. I’ve been saddened to occasionally (not often, fortunately!) see Montessori teachers criticize Montessori homeschoolers for not following Montessori methods perfectly. Even though my Montessori training and teaching experience prevented criticism toward me, I feel heartbroken anytime I see loving parents criticized online.
Montessori education does have certain techniques, but following the child’s needs and interests and inspiring a love of learning is what’s most important. What some parents may not show in perfection of technique is more than made up for with their enthusiasm for Montessori education and love for their children.
I saw amazing results when I first created a Montessori-oriented classroom in a daycare center before I ever took my Montessori training or even saw a traditional Montessori school. I sincerely applaud the creativity and efforts toward sharing an amazing approach to educating children.
So, if you feel you must correct a technique, do it in the gentlest way possible. I often publish blog posts about specific Montessori topics to help parents gain a better understanding of Montessori techniques. But really, those aren’t the most important parts of Montessori education anyway.
Give bloggers the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t just assume we’re idiots. Many of us mom bloggers might be idiots for giving too much for too little online, but you really should be grateful for that!
Be careful about criticizing an activity’s possible dangers. Mom bloggers generally expect that parents know what is safe for their individual children. If a mom blogger shows an activity with her toddler using small objects, that mom blogger is supervising the toddler closely … and expects you to do the same with your own toddler.
I have a notice in the sidebar of Living Montessori Now that says: All activities on this blog are intended to be executed under adult supervision. You must be the judge of what is age appropriate for your child and/or the children in your care.
I’d like to think that we all know how to use common sense and don’t need to put ridiculous disclaimers on every word we write. We respect your intelligence as a parent. Please respect ours as parents and bloggers.
Here’s a great post about not judging other bloggers: Stop Judging Other Bloggers from Crafterminds.
If you feel it’s essential to make a suggestion or criticism, do it nicely or don’t say anything.
Use the Compliment Sandwich or another kind way to share corrective feedback if you feel it’s absolutely essential. When correction isn’t absolutely essential, please just move on if you can’t say something nice. Follow the Thumper Theory:
“If you can’t say something nice . . . don’t say nothing at all.” - Thumper from the movie Bambi
I can’t help myself. I just have to share this video again! I LOVE this video and its ageless advice:
Always follow the Golden Rule when you’re online.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Think about it. This isn’t just advice for young children. It’s important for all of us.
“Be Kind” Word Art Freebie (without watermark)
Thanks for being kind online!
Note: If you’d like to be extra kind online, help Moms Fighting Hunger, Bloggers Filling Backpacks, and/or Small Hnads Creating Hope. You’ll also find lots of activities for both kids and adults to make a difference online and offline in the Go Orange for No Kid Hungry Linky Party.