My son came home from school last week in tears. A boy in his second grade class had called him a very mean name, and although he didn't quite understand what the name meant, he understood it was meant to hurt...and it did. It broke my heart to see him so upset. My first thought (after comforting and talking to him) was to march right down to the school and demand something be done to rectify the situation. But, after weighing my options, I decided upon another route. Bully-proofing my kids.
I started with a little demonstrations I found to teach my children that bullying hurts, and to prevent them from retaliating against children who might bully them. A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of plain white paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it, yell at it, call it names, and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.My children had the same reaction. They understood, with this simple object lesson, how damaging their actions had been.
I found an amazing article about Bully-proofing
your kids - Starting when their son was 3, psychologist Tammy Hughes and her school psychologist husband started teaching him. At night, they'd say, "Tell me three good things that happened to you today." This helped him make the distinction between events and his feelings about them. Once he had that mastered, they added, "Tell me three good things that happened to someone else (lesson: the world includes me and other people, their feelings and actions)." Next they asked, "Tell me something you did that worked out well. Now, tell me something that someone else did that worked out well for someone else." "These simple questions help children differentiate themselves and others, and (teach them) cause and effect. If you can connect these ideas and feelings, then it helps children to prepare to identify bullying -- negative versus positive behaviors -- and who did what to cause the outcome" We've implemented this technique in our home with all three of our kids. And, so far, I feel like it has been a success.
There are so many stories of bullying which have tragic endings. It is heartbreaking. If we'd all take a proactive stance, children will be better equipped to handle these situations. And maybe, if we'd take the time to teach our children, bullying could become a thing of the past.
Just a little food for thought.