As school will be opening, unfortunately we may start hearing about the ugliness of bullying and teasing of kids. Many, if not most, schools have employed an anti-bullying policies and programs. But what happens if they don’t work?
A special guest post from Blair Wagner of A Way Through helps sort through this dilemma.
Why Anti-bullying Programs Miss the Mark
As I direct my focus to a new school year about to begin, I reflect back on the past school year and the approaches I’ve seen schools take to address school bullying among their students and their staff. The one that really misses the mark is starting an anti-bullying program.
It is common for us to see something we don’t like and to join an anti-[fill in the blank] campaign. We talk about, write about, and complain about how bad it is. Our focus is on resisting the thing we don’t like, in this case bullying. We push against it. And that’s the problem.
What We Resist Persists
There’s an old saying: What we resist persists. Put another way, when we are negative about an issue, we perpetuate or spread negativity.
When we jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon, our attention, energy and focus are on the negativity of bullying. From this place of negativity, we lack emotional access to positive solutions. The anti name has a persistent negative influence.
As an alternative to a dooms day attitude or an angry approach, a more effective option is to recognize the bullying we see. Name it. Be curious about it. Look at it from several angles. But don’t stay stuck there.
Once we’ve gotten clear on what we are seeing and where it is coming from, work to clarify what we DO want. We want better social skills, social competence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, healthy friendships, a positive culture, a positive climate, and positive role models.
A Springboard to Create a Replacement of Bullying Behavior
This positive focus gives us a springboard to create what we want.
Once we know what we want in bullying prevention, our job is to provide structures, training, and ongoing support for our students and for our school staff – all based on a focus of creating what we want, not on stopping what we don’t want.
Let’s replace those anti-bullying posters (of kids bullying or being bullied) with posters representing healthy friendships and acts of kindness. Start social skills training early. Put forth positive examples, language and visuals everywhere to influence your students in a positive way!
© 2011 A Way Through, LLC
Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com.