Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing.
Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.
Bullying is not okay.
It’s not okay at home, at school, on the field–anywhere.
And though a lot of families view ‘sibling issues’ as, ohhh, just a part of life–we do not.
For us, under our roof, in our home, and in our family, it’s not okay to treat another person in an unkind way.
And there’s no such thing as ‘that’s how brothers and sisters act’ or ‘sisters will fight’ or anything of the sort. Yes, I know that sisters will fight. I grew up in a teeny house with one bathroom and three sisters. I know things can get. . . tough.
But I also know that growing up, even if we argued, it was not ignored. My mom said something. My dad said something. We were punished or sent to our room or talked to or something.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that things were always squeaky-clean and perfect at our house; a lot got by that shouldn’t have. But a lot was stopped. And though there were some rocky times, my three sisters have become my best pals, my favorite people in the world, my bff’s.
So I do think that a lot of bully-prevention can–and should–begin at home. With siblings. And the earlier, the better. Because if children are taught about kindness and empathy and sharing and love and all that good stuff from the very beginning, perhaps bullying–at school, on the field, and and everywhere will slowly diminish.
One of our all-time favorite books, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, covers the topic of bullying.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Bullying– End it at Home, School, Everywhere: I’ve admitted that I have been worried about my tiniest for the last few months–I’ve googled ‘bullying’ and ‘what to do when your child is a bully’ more times than I care to admit because I have been anxious about how Cora’s been acting toward Maddy and Owen. And I’ve been worried about how she’s acting toward her friends at school.
She is learning how to push buttons, how her words can control her brother and sister’s temper and mood, and she’s realizing the power she can exert over others. So we’ve practiced showing kindness and changed our Gem Jars and have doing a lot of showering with love. And to my father’s suggestion, when she’s ugly or mean or throwing a fit–if I can take a deeeep breath and calm myself down–I wrap my arms around her in a big hug and hold her tightly.
And for Maddy and Owen–who can both dish it out–we’ve talked about standing up for yourself and using your words and moving away from a toxic situation and asking for help.
Books about being brave are a great way to build confidence and self-esteem in little ones.
Along with open conversations about treating others with kindness, we’re also talking a lot about bullying–what it is, why people do it, and what we can do when we see it.
And we’re taking the ole Atticus Finch angle of stepping into another person’s shoes:
- What are some reasons why people pick on others?
- How might it make them feel to get attention that way?
- How do you feel when you see another person get bullied?
- What kinds of things do you think when you see bullying–what do you wish you could say?
- How does it feel to be singled out like [Chrysanthemum, or whomever]?
- What do you think people who are being bullied really want to say to the bully?
- Why don’t they–or why can’t they–say what they want?
- What should teachers or parents do if they see bullying?
- What should friends or others do if they see bullying?
- What do you do if the person you are with is a bully?
- How do you think moms or dads feel if they knew their child was a bully?
We have always used books for learning over here, so this has been no different. We’ve been doing a lot of reading about kindness, bravery, and love. And I don’t care if it’s corny. I really don’t.
We’ve read books about bravery–what it means to be brave and stand up for yourself and others–and we’ve read books we know and love that deal with issues of bullying. I like the round-about approach; I think books about building character may work as well–if not better–than books that outright address the bullying subject.
In Kids Talk About Bravery, Ruby Bridges is spotlighted for her bravery during the Civil Rights movement.
We particularly like these books for tackling this tough subject–and fyi, not all these books cover bullying in a direct way, but they all generate discussion about kindness, feelings, bravery, empathy, or an awareness of others:
- Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
- The ant bully, by John Nickle
- Rosa, by Nikki Giovanni
- Dotty, by Erica S. Perl
- The Rain Came Down, by David Shannon
- Bear Feels Scared, by Karma Wilson
- Kids Talk About Bravery, by Carrie Finn
- Being Brave, by Jill Lynn Donahue
- The Farmer, by Mark Ludy
- The Gardner, by Sarah Stewart
- Emma Dilemma, by Kristine O’Connell George
- A Little Book About Feelings, Ruby’s Studio
- Ramona the Brave, by Beverly Cleary
- Chrissa Stands Strong, by Mary Casanova
- Aloha, Kanani, by Lisa Yee
- The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes
- Arlene on the Scene, by Carol Lu
It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s what we’ve got so far. Please do share in the comments which books YOU look to for starting this conversation in your house!
And to continue the bullying conversation, though perhaps for an older audience, is a new movie, Bully. This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied, making it the most common form of violence young people in the U.S. experience. (This statistic makes me ill.)
About the film:Following five kids and families over the course of a school year, the film confronts bullying’s most tragic outcomes, including the stories of two families who’ve lost children to suicide and a mother who waits to learn the fate of her 14 –year-old daughter, incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With rare access to the Sioux City Community School District, the film also gives an intimate glimpse into school buses, classrooms, cafeterias and even principles offices, offering insight into the often-cruel world of children, as teachers, administrators and parents struggle to find answers.Bully will be shown in select theaters beginning Friday, March 30. Website: www.thebullyproject.com