What’s the Colour of Love?
Anti-Bullying. Caring. Kindness. EMPATHY.
Children are such amazing, compassionate, caring and openly loving young human beings.
Sometimes though, they disconnect from others around them, and their behaviour can be callous, cruel and destructive. Often without ever realising, especially in this digital age and one where so many influences affect our young kids long before they are old enough to start processing things clearly.
After all – how many adults really stand up to bullies, the ones who aren’t hitting and pushing; the ones who just say demeaning and belittling things, encourage others to laugh at you or talk behind your back. How do kids deal with that?
Sadly, this destroys young lives. It can erode confidence and self esteem to the point they become isolated, ashamed, secretive – and desperately unhappy. Mental health of children who were once vibrant, happy and full of dreams for the future deteriorates so much, that some just don’t make it through, and certainly their attainment and success during their teen and young adult years takes a dreadful beating. The toll is often life long. Often life is not long.
There are different ways to help – and it does start early. Teaching empathy. Teaching and showing how we care for others and take care of ourselves go hand in hand. Encouraging kindness, caring and nurturing of friendships and self. Speaking out against bullying, no matter how minor it seems. Supporting those who speak out against it too.
Bullying is not something we can ever ignore – it can grow out of control, but both those bullying and those being bullied need support to change the outcome.
Be Kind – whenever you can. Show how much you value it. Comment on your children’s kindness – and show respect for it. Recognise the kindness of others.
Listen to your kids. What are they saying? How do they feel about it? Do they share a story about mocking someone? Do they tell you someone was calling them names or leaving them out? How are they coping with it? Has it happened before? “Give them your full attention, but not the Spanish Inquisition. You don’t want to put them off talking” – said one mum.
More Tips from other parents / professionals:
Intervene early, as early as you can – if it’s happening at school, inform the teacher of any issue. If it is a teacher (or your child has already told their teacher, but with no action following that), judge how your feel about speaking to them directly, with without a member of the management staff of school present, or go to the Head / DHT directly. Support your child anyway you can, without losing your calm inner self if possible. Your child is watching and learning from you all the time, particularly in stressful situations. If you can talk to other parents, do that too. It can help to talk that through with someone else first as the other parents may be shocked and upset too. If you know the kids involved, you may even be able to point out truths simply and clearly too. “When you say ….. you affect _____ – it makes her/him feel upset to be made fun of. I want that to stop and for you to be kind to each other.”
Help your child learn ways to look after themselves, no matter how others behave. * Perhaps teach them tools like meditation. * Get some support for you and them if you can – professional, through GP or local services. * Find new places and groups for your child to get involved with, to help establish new and strong friendships. * Work with the school to help deal with anti-bullying practice and the well-being of your child. * Be aware and careful around children’s access to social media, and social media’s access to your child. * Watch out for a mobile phone/tablet being always kept on them and never giving you any insight into anything being said or done through it. * Don’t blame the friends who seem to dessert your child – most are scared of being the next target through association or speaking out, instead see what you can do to work towards supporting them all and making them stronger.
It does happen here, it does happen in our local schools, and wherever kids hang out, it is always worst when kids do not think about their actions, the implications and repercussions, because they don’t even recognise what they are doing. The education to #Be Kind is not a standalone, it’s part of a wider anti-bullying approach which still has to deal with different kinds. Kids who deliberately hurt, goad, push around and intimidate are kids who also need to learn a different way of life. Respect Me is the Scottish approach – and the foundation to the new East Lothian Anti-Bullying Policy.
You don’t have to like me…agree with me…or enjoy the same things I do.
But you do have to respect me.
For children and young people who are being bullied, this short video, made with children, may be of interest.
There’s a local #kindness initiative too. Perhaps you might like to get involved this way – and include your children in seeing / doing as they may also wish to give a heart. (They don’t have to be knitted).
Support from the Start hearts – #kindness
“Our hearts are knitted with love by volunteers and are intended as gifts to recognise the kindness that exists in our community.
If you are passed a heart it is yours in recognition of a kindness you have given. You can choose to keep it or pass it on to a family member, a colleague or complete stranger.
You decide when to give your heart, but when you do please consider sharing it by tweeting #kindness or send us a photo of your heart being given, so that we can share for you”.
Links: The current Anti-Bullying policy can be found here.
Note: This will be updated from Aug ’17, as the new policy will be rolled out to all state schools and East Lothian settings working with groups of children and young people.