Guest blog by Heather Leah, preschool and school-age teacher in Raleigh, NC.
As a teacher, I have the benefit of seeing the “Bullying Conversation” from both sides. Yes, I read the articles about the bullying pandemic, but I also see the children who exhibit bullying behaviors and see the damage that labeling them does to their self-image.
As adults, we can see what kinds of self-esteem problems or personal hardships cause children to act out in angry ways that cause society to label them. However, I also see that adults can become far too self-important in their analysis of the issues, assuming we know everything about what causes children to choose bullying, kindness, and all the things in between. The truth of the matter is this: All children, at some point in their life, will bully another child.
So I find it most interesting to talk with my students about their own perspectives on what causes personal choices between kindness and harshness (let’s just throw the word “bullying” out with the garbage. It’s a pointless negative word that promotes destruction more than understanding).
When we listen to what our youngest, brightest minds have to say, maybe we adults can come to a point of really comprehending how we can help promote kindness in our classrooms.
In fact, a child in my class, a wiser-than-his-ten-years poet, wrote this prize-winning poem in the lyrical style of Dr. Seuss as a class project. I was surprised by the subject matter he chose, which gave deep insight into catalysts that push a child towards choosing harshness or kindness — and how a kid might decide between the two. Read it, and maybe you’ll learn something:
There were three Todasis.
One was the dummy.
One was the guy named Shrummy.
Then there was a gummy.
He was not nice, nor funny,
but the opposite of nice.
What was that?
straight old mean
–he was lean.
He steals and he eats a lot.
“No! I will never be nice!
I will not tell you once or twice!”
“Please. Oh, please! Be nice!”
“NO! I will never, NEVER be nice!
I tell you not once or twice!”
“Oh please, Oh please! I want you nice!”
Simply no! I tell you not once more!”
“Why? Why will you never be nice?
Why? Just tell me.
I can’t understand…
…If we show you kindness, will you be nice?”
…What is kindness?”
“Well, for one thing: Don’t yell.
Start off by hugging.
“Okay,” Gummy replied. “Here. Have a smile!
Wow! This really is better than being mean.”
“See?” said Shrummy and the dummy.
And together they all walked away.
This guest post, written by Heather Leah, originally appeared on Candid Slice.