Bully! It’s an ugly word because it involves ugly actions. This little word can stir the strongest emotions in people from all walks of life. Why, because it doesn’t discriminate and a high proportion of the population have been either directly or indirectly affected by it.

Bullying has become an overwhelming social crisis. When it touches the life of a child, it can have a devastating and long-lasting effect not only on them but also their family and friends.

Childhood bullying can negatively impact the physical, emotional and mental health of bullies, the bullied, and bystanders well into adulthood.

A meta-analysis of 80 studies reported a mean prevalence rate in 12-18-year-old students of 35% for traditional bullying and 15% for cyber bullying involvement. Given that another study reported that only 36% of bullying victims reported being bullied, it’s difficult to know how accurate these figures really are and frightening to think they could be much higher.   read more →

email

A Kindness Tree is a beautiful way to focus on and acknowledge the importance of showing kindness within a school. The tree helps foster more kind, supportive relationships amongst students and teachers, and everyone loves to watch the tree “grow” as each good deed is recognized.

As you’ll see by the examples below there are many variations, some big, some small, but each one beautiful and unique. There are no rules when it comes to creating your kindness tree. Use your imagination and get the kids involved. For the tree itself, you can use paper, fabric, paint, a stencil or real tree branches. Tree leaves can be made from paper in the shape of leaves, hearts or even hands.

Alta Vista Elementary

A kindness tree in the cafeteria at Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida is part of the Kindness Starts with Me program. Students fill out smile cards, color-coded by class, to acknowledge each other for the kind things they’ve done which are then attached to the kindness tree. read more →

In the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, she writes about Choosing Kind as the best option in life. This phrase resonated with me and sparked a new appreciation on how I discuss bullying with my 6th graders.WonderBook I then came across an article on the Edutopia website titled, “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reduce Bullying” and knew this was the right angle to take with my incoming 6th graders. They have all heard the lectures about how bullying is wrong. I wanted to attack bullying from a different point of view. After reading the Edutopia article, I decided to teach kindness. What does it truly mean? I wanted my students to reflect on the meaning of kindness. I wanted them to pay it forward and start applying kindness to their peers at school. How would I do this as it is not as easy as it sounds?

Our school philosophy is SPIRIT, which is an acronym for Selflessness, Pride, Integrity, Respect, Involvement, and Trustworthiness. I knew I wanted to bring this philosophy in to my classroom kindness lessons as well. After much thought, and since I teach English Language Arts, I figured the most appropriate way would be through our daily writing prompts. My goal was to share a new picture book, video clip, short article, or poem each week that spoke to us about being kind, compassionate, and showing gratitude. I wasn’t sure how the students would respond to these types of texts and media. read more →

As important as it is for parents to encourage, love and support their children, it is just as important that children learn to create this within themselves. It is very empowering for a child to create positive beliefs in themselves so it is much harder for people to tear them down.

Our children are learning behaviours and wiring their brain and this is why affirmations are so effective with youngsters. Positive self-belief developed in childhood will stay with them throughout their life.

We all develop our belief systems about ourselves and the world around us from our environment. Our family and friends, role models, television, magazines and advertising can either be nurturing or damaging.

It is important that we learn to take control of our belief systems and the younger that we learn, the easier it is. It can be as simple as affirming the positive beliefs that we would like to grow up with. Negative beliefs can impact our lives greatly and can be hard to shift as we grow older.

Affirmations are a powerful and holistic way of building a positive mind and happier children.  Nurturing their authentic self and helping them to enjoy the magic of childhood.

Put simply, an affirmation is to affirm to one’s self. Positive words that are absorbed by the mind to create your belief system. Once affirmations are learned, they work by coming to mind when that belief is challenged. If your affirmation is “I am wonderful just the way I am”, and you are told you are stupid, the affirmation will come to mind to remind you of your belief. Instead, you will think, “I’m not stupid, I am wonderful!” Without a positive belief, you may take on the one you just heard and start to believe that you are stupid. The more an affirmation is repeated, positive or negative, the stronger it becomes.

What we think about ourselves, is how we develop 

If we feel we are worthless, we will behave like we are worthless. If we believe that we are special and loved, we will behave like we are special and loved.  read more →

My daughter has been having difficulty with a girl at school. This girl “Mary” became a bit of a stalker and it became quite intense.

It was manageable during school hours, but it was the constancy of exchanges on Instagram that became overwhelming. Relentless messages from Mary accusing my daughter of bad behaviour. Mary snapping a photo of my daughter’s private messages, where she revealed her crush and then showing him. Not cool. In the end, we advised our daughter to block Mary, at which point the girl jumped on to my account. Yikes, it was intense.

A meeting was held at school and the cyber issue was resolved. Several minor incidents occurred thereafter, but nothing that we couldn’t handle.

Then, one day my daughter came home from school furious. We sat down as I listened to the drama that had unfolded this time. Mary had taken a rotten piece of fruit and had thrown it at one of the boys. This particular boy is very shy, a bit of a recluse, an easy target. The fruit hit him. He did not respond and simply continued staring at the floor. My daughter then flew into action (she has a very strong moral compass).

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears
of another and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler

read more →

A teacher in New York used the crumpled paper exercise to show her students the last impact that bullying can have. read more →

My message to kids who bully other kids is:
You know it’s wrong! What’s really going on? Try not to make somebody else’s life miserable because you are.

– Joe Nichols

Let me begin by saying that I detest the ‘Bully,’ label. Bully is a loaded word. It provokes an emotional reaction of some kind to any person that you mention it to. From outrage to fear, everyone has an opinion. Bully Vs Victim, simple right? I disagree.

For me, this is not simple. Varying levels of light and shade must be considered if we are going to be successful in helping to reduce incidents of nastiness in schools. For a child to carry the label of bully is akin to a prison sentence that will haunt them for his or her school career with little chance of parole. To have the bully label surgically thrust upon you implies that it is a fundamental part of the person that you are, it’s who people are therefore expecting you to be. What a burden for a child to carry. To say that a child is displaying bullying behaviour is so much more positive because behaviours can easily be changed and disposed of so it gives everyone involved hope for change.

I am one of these really irritating people who holds the belief that there is good in 99% of the population and often in places that we are not expecting. My mission in life has always been to try and identify with people and find common-ground. I love words and believe that good quality communication, partnered with love and an attempt at understanding, can help to ease any situation. As a parent to four beautiful babies, I have found this to be extremely challenging at times, as I will explain. read more →

“People bully to distract themselves from their own issues.”

When I was younger I was a little naive. I thought that once you get out of school, everyone suddenly grows up. I thought that everyone would learn how to put aside petty differences and just get along.

Wow, was I wrong! Nothing could be further from the truth. Getting older – that just happens, but growing up is a choice. And some people don’t actively make that choice.

After finishing school, I got my first full time job. Everything was going great. I had made some new friends and was enjoying my time. Then my co-workers found out that I was from the “wrong side” of town.

Bullying-All-Alone

They started to leave me out of conversations and other things that they were doing. Soon my co-workers started to make unkind remarks and verbally attack me. At the time I would have preferred it if they just kept leaving me out.

I was only 18 so I wasn’t really sure about how to deal with it. I was also in shock that it was even happening. After all, bullying stopped when school finished, didn’t it? read more →

42% of kids report having been the victim of some form of cyberbullying reports Family Internet Safety Advocate, Sue Scheff. In the past decade, parents and educators have become increasingly aware of this staggering statistic, and bullying prevention programs have been written in response. But there’s a fault in these programs.

 

Saying STOP Is Difficult To Do

This is the crux of the problem. We tell our kids that being a bystander is just as bad as being the bully and that they should stand up to cyberbullying, but we don’t teach them how to do this. And the truth is that this is very, very hard to do—as an adult and as a kid.

My Own Brush With Cyberbullying

I’m a freelance writer so last year, after my twelfth wedding anniversary, I wrote a neat and tidy article, “12 Things Happily Married Women Know.” The comments that came in on it weren’t about marriage, they were about my weight and how fat I looked in my wedding dress. I was devastated. It took me months to move past this sadness and get to a place where I could call out my cyberbullies and stand up for myself. When I did, it was in a second article, “I Wrote An Article About Marriage And All Anyone Noticed Is That I’m Fat.” In it, I said two simple things: don’t talk about other people’s bodies and let’s be kinder to each other online. That article went viral and from it, I landed a book deal for a book on how to teach our kids to be kind online. Some days I call this “just desserts.” Other days I call it, “taking lemons and making lemonade.” read more →

Why kindness should be taught in schools pic.
Kindness Is Best Learned By Feeling It

Phrases like “random acts of kindness” and “pay it forward” have become popular terms in modern society. Perhaps this could be best explained by those who have identified a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism.

It seems that we just can’t get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions — and with good reason. Scientific studies prove that kindness has many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. And children need a healthy dose of the warm-and-fuzzies to thrive as healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals.

Patty O’Grady, PhD, an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology, specializes in education. She reports:

Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.

A great number of benefits have been reported to support teaching kindness in schools, best summed up by the following.

Happy, Caring Children

The good feelings that we experience when being kind are produced by endorphins. They activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. These feelings of joyfulness are proven to be contagious and encourage more kind behavior (or altruism) by the giver and recipient.

Increased Peer Acceptance

Research on the subject has determined that kindness increases our ability to form meaningful connections with others. Kind, happy children enjoy greater peer acceptance because they are well liked. Better-than-average mental health is reported in classrooms that practice more inclusive behavior due to an even distribution of popularity. read more →

SEL a must to reduce bullying.
I’ve heard it said too many times… that social and emotional learning shouldn’t be taught at school because that’s a job for parents.

Good in theory, but in reality, there are many children who lack supportive, loving and safe home environments that promote good values. Instead these children often experience an ugly side of life that can have a devastating effect on their character and development.

Research shows that children naturally and almost unconsciously learn by following examples set by others. And those in homes lacking warmth, caring, love and parental involvement, are likely to imitate the negative behaviour they learn to consider normal.

Regardless of their situation, schools expect all children to be respectful, caring and kind when interacting with teachers and peers. When their behaviour is deemed anti-social or nasty, they may be labeled a bully. read more →

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.

I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.” read more →