What if there was a way to stop bullying before it even begins?
Harvard researcher and TED speaker Shawn Achor and his sister Amy Blankson (named a Point of Light by Presidents Bush and Clinton) wondered if they could apply Achor’s research on happiness and positivity and use it to teach young children about bullying behavior. They came up with the idea to write a children’s book called Ripple’s Effect that uses the scientific research and targets it toward younger children to see if they can use the power of positivity to battle bullying.
In his research at Harvard, Achor has been able to see first-hand that while genetics may play a role, happiness really can be a choice. “By researching positive outliers — people who are above average for a positive dimension like optimism or intelligence — we learn that happiness is a choice, but it's also something that we have to work at,” says Achor. Teaching young children to use the power of positive thinking shows them that they have more control over their environment than they realize.
Ripple’s Effect is targeted toward children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old. Some may feel that children this age are too young to learn about bullying behavior, but Blankson disagrees. “As a mother of three young children, I have seen the issue of bullying emerge in a variety of settings — at school, on the playground, even at church,” she says. “As much as I want to protect my children, I have learned that ultimately they have to learn to use their ‘strong words’ to stand up for themselves and for others who may not have words yet.” The earlier children are taught that they can control their environment in a positive manner, the better chance we have of helping the next generation to be confident and bully-resistant.
Ripple’s Effect is not the first children’s book to address the subject of bullying. So what is different about this particular book? “Ripple's Effect is a unique character education book because it is actually based on science,” says Achor. “My work and research in the field of positive psychology has revealed how changes in our own brain due to mindset and behavior can have a ripple effect to a team and an entire organization. We applied the same idea to a fictional world of sharks and dolphins so that children can understand that these same principles are active in the world around them.”
Pairing scientific research with fun characters like Snark the Shark and Ripple the Dolphin helps readers relate to the story and the concept of positive thinking. The message throughout the book is that staying positive can transform situations and change lives.
Bullying is a problem that we all need to address. By targeting a young audience and teaching them about positive thinking, these authors are taking a big step toward tackling the problem before it begins.
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