I have been reading interesting articles and debates on this topic. Popular research states children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood.
Do you worry more about your child's happiness than if they are kind and compassionate to others? Do you teach empathy for others? Do you celebrate your child's success, awards, sports, or academic achievements more than when they are a caring community member?
I strongly believe in teaching my children that being kind is the most important thing. I did not try to force them to like or get along with every person they met or had to deal with. However, they were taught they must be respectful, tolerant, and nice. In reality, there will always be people you don't like, and who don't like you. I hope that my children will not act negatively against people that they are not drawn to as friends.
We have had several occasions when other children treated ours unkindly. They have been bullied or teased. They have risen above it, in most situations. Long conversations about why these "mean" kids may act that way and treat others the way they do bring a different viewpoint. Our kids managed to feel sympathy for the bully. Isn't it true that the child who needs love the most will ask for it in the most unloving of ways?
There have been physical altercations when someone has physically attacked one of my children, and he acted in defense. Luckily, that diffused the situation and the bully backed down and didn't bother him anymore. I'm not sure it always works that way. I'm afraid to condone any violence, worried that it will escalate the situation. I advise walking away whenever possible. In that particular instance, the boy had my son in had a headlock, so he couldn't get away.
I am glad that our local schools promote good character traits as well as sports and academic achievements. Monthly, semi-annual, and end of the year awards are given out to students who portray good character traits: responsibility, respect, citizenship, kindness & empathy, perseverance, self-discipline & empowerment, diversity & tolerance, cooperation, honesty & fairness, and pride.