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 →

In 2015 Pembroke Primary School embarked on a multidisciplinary journey, where students were encouraged to work with peers, teachers and local experts to solve real-world problems. The students discussed issues such as animal welfare, health and homelessness. It was the idea of homelessness that really struck an emotional cord with the students. Their overwhelming gratitude for all that they have, as well as their concern for those sleeping rough lead to in-class discussions, emails and phone calls to organisations primarily based in Melbourne. Despite the students’ keen interest, it was unfortunate that this is where the ‘action’ aspect of their problem solving journey ended because of long distances, lack of connection, age limitations and perceivably unattainable goals. read more →

Gratitude … goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an education conference in San Francisco, CA. While I was there, I learned many exciting findings from the “science of happiness.” That weekend revolutionized my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. Since then I have been on a quest to create a happier classroom and to help other teachers do the same thing.

One lesson I learned at the conference pertains to the relationship between happiness and success. As recent research has shown, success does not always lead to happiness. Many of us know this from experience. For example, landing a highly coveted job and buying your dream home may not necessarily result in a blissful state. On the other hand, people who are happy tend to find success in school, at work, and in every domain in life. read more →

I remember walking into my bedroom one day after school to discover a brand new pair of aqua coloured jeans on my bed. I was so excited and grateful for those jeans as I had recently admired them in a shop but would never have asked my mum if I could have them. They were the latest trend and I knew we couldn’t afford them, but here they were, on my bed!

I almost knocked my mother over as I ran into her arms. I knew what sort of sacrifice she would have made to get them for me, so these were a very special gift that left a warm, vivid memory.

This is the sort of gratitude I hope my children feel when they are lucky enough to get something they’ve been wishing for. But it’s not just things I want them to appreciate, but their circumstances, their happiness, their friendships and all the ordinary things that surround them every day.

In a world where most children have all they could ever need, it can be difficult to teach them to be grateful. So how do you go about instilling a value that seems almost lost in our world of plenty?

Why Is Gratitude Important

Christine Carter is a sociologist from Greater Good Science Centre and a huge advocate for teaching gratitude. She shares some wisdom on why gratitude is important and how to help parents and teachers foster an attitude of gratitude.

We Are All Teachers

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The older I get, the more I’m hearing people complain of a lack of joy and fulfillment in their lives. Personally, I think this is often caused by an imbalance in physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. In other words, people are not allowing themselves the right amount of sleep, nutrition, exercise, work, security, intellectual stimulation, attention, sense of achievement, socialization, fun, time alone and so on.

While exploring ways to increase happiness, many people identify a lack of spiritual satisfaction which often leads them on a journey of gratitude.

What is Gratitude?

Robert Emmons is recognized as the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He describes gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life” and explains it as an acknowledgement and an appreciation of things that are given to or done for someone. He goes on to say that the good feelings associated with gratitude inspire people to create the same feelings for others.

Most people learn basic gratitude as children when they’re taught to say thank you, show respect and help others. But in this busy and disposable world, it seems many have developed a sense of entitlement, feeling it’s their right to live their lives a particular way, instantly have the best instead of working and saving for it and taking so much of their lives for granted.

Why is Gratitude Important?

Positive psychology research proves that gratitude is strongly associated with the emotions that help people enjoy greater health and happiness. It can also play an important role in nurturing relationships and can even inspire people to take better care of themselves.
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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

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What is the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Have you ever been asked to do a task – maybe you were starting a new job – and you believed before you started that you wouldn’t be good at it? Maybe you thought to yourself, ‘I am not going to be able to do this,’ only to try it out and realize that your fears were correct? This is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. A sociologist named Robert K. Merton created this term in 1948 to describe ‘a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.’ In other words, the prediction we make at the start of something affects our behavior in such a way that we make that prediction happen.

Since studying it for my BA, The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (SFP) has become a concept that frames my entire life. It is the way that I understand the world. It feeds in to the way that I react with myself and others. It’s the important concept that changed my thinking forever. It is the premise that the way that we think of ourselves, and the way that others think of us moulds us. It is vitally important because it can directly affect the way that we experience the world.

If I believe that I can, then I can. If I believe that you can, it helps you to believe it too. read more →

Missing youAs a divorced Dad, I was collecting my 7 year old daughter from school for our weekly afternoon together. These afternoons I’d pick her up from school, go to horse riding lessons and then onto our local favourite place for waffles and ice cream before taking her back to her mother.

This day, she approached the car crying, her little cheeks showing the brown marks where the tears had been running. I jumped out and asked her what happened? Daddy, can we please go to Amor (her horse) first, I will tell you on the way. I tried again to find out what was wrong, but she refused to tell me till we were driving. read more →

A few weeks after we launched Ripple Kindness Project’s Kindness Curriculum, I was approached by a year 5 boy who had been part of the audience at the special assembly held at his school. read more →