Is it enough to simply tell our children not to bully? Or should we walk them through a process that might increase their understanding of why bullying is not acceptable at any age? In our class, we seek to address the topic of bullying through a process of self-reflection. Try it with yourself and then try it with a child, see if it brings about a different perspective of bullying for you and your child. For regardless of what people think about bullying, it is not limited to the playground. Kids often model the behavior of their parents. Is that which they model a positive reflection of you at your best, being your best to others?
First, write down all of the personality traits that come to mind when you think about a bully. Be as exhaustive with the list as possible. Second, once the list is done, go through and put a "star" next to all of the things that a bully has done to you or next to all of the ways a bully has made you feel. How do you feel? Did any specific events come to mind about when you were bullied? What has been the lasting impact of those bullying experiences?
Third, brings about the honesty check - literally and figuratively. Now go through and put a "check" next to everything that you have done that has made someone feel less about themselves. Be as honest as possible if you want to grow from this and pass what you have learned on to the next generation. Think about how you felt when you were bullied? Did you really feel better after you belittled someone? Can you recall what might have triggered you bullying someone? Is there a common theme that you notice as a warning flag? If so, what will you do the next time the triggers go into effect? Will you stop yourself or will you go with it? The reality is, we are all human and thus imperfect. Still, imagine what might happen if people began to reflect on and grow from their lowest moments just like they like to reflect upon their highest moments.
The challenge put forward is a big one. I feel lucky that I go through it each time I teach the class. Just as women have annual check ups on our health, I think we also need regular check ups on our behavior. So, the next time a harsh word comes to your lips, reflect upon whether or not this is something that you would want said about you, your child or a loved one. Exchange it with a positive thought and note the difference in how you feel - my students and I have.
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