As I think about the last 10 years in schools and the movement of helping kids through conflict, I recall what works and what does not. Here are some of my observations.
1. If you think back as to how you were taught to take care of a bully....well, times have changed. The bullying is ongoing, it is frequent, and can be carried forward online at all hours and times of the day. There is no way for students to run pass interference for themselves online. It is a full time job, exhausting, and riddled with anxiety.
2. Typical statements like "Walk away. "Just ignore her." "He just likes you". Actually dismiss their voice, raise anxiety, and re-victimize the victim.
Sometimes adults are really messy. We send confusing and mixed messages even when we are really trying to help. Proper training and consistency are key.
Hence, Imagine a world where kids at a young age have a framework to follow.
SEAL is one of my favorites from Rosalind Wiseman's "Owning Up" curriculum and is easy to implement in any home, any school, and any after school space and program.
Is this the time or place to confront this person? At the lunch table, during passing period, with lots of people around? Probably not. And never via text. If it's relational or conflictual, F2F.
Explain the specific behavior the person did that hurt your feelings. Don't attack their personhood, identify the behavior.
"When you did xxxx, it made me feel xxxx".
Decide if you want to affirm the friendship or relationship. If you do, make it known. "We have been friends for a long time, today didn't go so well, but I am glad we got through it".
LOCK IN/LOCK OUT
This step goes along with the affirmation. It is the decision to continue, or to take a break from that person. Sometimes, it's okay to takes break. Especially if its toxic.
Kids need to know that their dignity is theirs to keep. At the base of what "bullying" is is the silencing of one's voice. No one has the right to do that.
We do a really great job of telling kids to respect each other. But they don't even know what that really means, and if they watch TV, there is none being displayed.
Respect is a mutual admiration for each other. Not sure about you but if someone steals my lunch, I am not admiring him/her. I am going to use my voice to get it back.
Teach them young.
Practice with them.
Model for them.
Blog Post Written by Gurian Institute Executive Director Katey McPherson