Let me start off by saying I am 110% against bullying. Someone very close to me told me about how she was bullied in school and it made me the bleeding heart than I am. How could anyone treat such a sweet, funny, generous person with anything but kindness? I couldn’t understand it and it made bullying something I could not tolerate, even as a child. However, I think the word “bullying” is starting to be misused. In a world where bullying has gone to a new, horrible level with things like cyber bullying, we don’t need to lessen the gravity of the word by calling everything bullying. That way we can all rest assured that when it is bullying, it will be handled appropriately.
A child saying that they do not like another child’s pencil is not bullying. A six year old saying she’s saving the seat for her best friend and not allowing someone to sit there is not bullying. Now if she and a group of people were not letting the child sit near them to shun the child or were ridiculing that child then that would be different. However, just like adults, children have preferences. They have their best friends that they want to sit next to. They might like superheroes more than princesses. They also have less of a filter than most adults. Instead of calling it bullying and saying those students must be separated from each other at all times because Bobby hurt Sarah’s feelings, why not use that as a teaching opportunity? It is a wonderful teachable moment for conflict resolution and teachers are missing out on that when administration is saying that the children cannot be near one another during any activity. All that is teaching them is if they don’t get along with someone, they don’t ever have to work with them again. It also means that the real world is going to kick their butt. “What do you mean I still have to work with Karen? Didn’t you hear me say that she said no when I asked her if she wanted coffee because she prefers tea? She’s so mean. I need her to be transferred to another office.”
Instead, let’s give them the tools they need to be functional adults later in life. When my first graders come up to me and tell me something along the lines of “Johnny said he didn’t like my LEGO monster!” I respond with “Did you tell him you didn’t like it when he said that? That it hurts your feelings because you worked hard on it?” They then go tell their friend those things, their friend says sorry, and they continue being friends. I don’t have to rearrange my seating chart. Special areas teachers do not need to be notified that they can’t be together. No bullying incident report needs to be filled out. I have done class lessons on how people are different and different things hurt their feelings. We have talked about how sometimes we say things that we think are funny but the person you said it to gets their feelings hurt. “Does it matter that you thought it was funny if it hurt his feelings?” and they answer a unified “No!” My students are learning that people feel differently about things and that their feelings need to be respected. They are also learning the difference between someone unintentionally hurting their feelings and bullying. These students are learning how to cope with things when they are upset. They are learning to regulate their emotions. They are learning how to function in the real world before the safety net is removed and they face-plant. My kids will land on their feet.
welcome to my mess
I've always dreamed of being one of those moms who makes Bento Box lunches with artisan sandwiches cut out into cute shapes along with carrot sticks and grapefruit that my perfect children will gobble up, but I am fairly certain my child is going to end up with a package of deli meat and a Snickers bar. I can barely get myself ready in the morning and I once screwed up a grilled cheese maker. Who knew the top part of the grilled cheese maker also heated up? Spoiler alert: everyone. I'm not sure who decided I was capable of raising a human, but they handed her off to me anyways and I love her more than I can begin to explain. However, love isn't magic--despite what Disney claims. I cannot suddenly wake up without 46 snoozes or manage my time well enough to have the opportunity to use conditioner in my hair. I'm still me. I just have a cute mini-me now. I have a master's degree in education and a participation award for adulting. Please follow me on my journey and give me a wave if you ever end up on the struggle bus with me. I also frequent the hot mess express, and I check my email on occasion. Wherever you run into me, just know I woke up like this. No, seriously...I didn't have time to do anything else.