I am writing this in September, and thinking of all of the students starting a new school year. Every year parents bring school aged children to see me because they are suffering from poor treatment by other students.
Fortunately there is growing awareness of the problem bullying creates, and most schools have developed policies for dealing with it. There are behaviors, however, that may be just shy of bullying, but are damaging nonetheless.
I would urge all parents and teachers to talk to students about these behaviors, because they may not realize how devastating they can be. Criticizing, ridiculing or making fun of others is hurtful. Excluding or shunning others is cruel.
Students must be reminded of the importance of treating all others with kindness and respect. Even if you do not particularly care for someone, you can still be polite. None of us is “better” than anyone else: we should treat everyone as an equal.
Most people would never push or hit someone with who was injured, with a broken leg, for example. Many individuals are injured emotionally from previous experiences or current life situations, but these injuries cannot be seen from the outside.
When you are unkind to someone, you have no idea how much pain you may be triggering for that individual.
Conversely, when you are kind to someone, you have no idea how important your act of kindness or friendly demeanor might be to that person. We each have tremendous power to bring joy or sorrow to others. This may be the single most important thing we ever teach our children. Teach them well.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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