Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Monday, June 13, 2011

THINK Before You Speak

A friend of mine who has three young daughters just sent "THINK" to me. Nancy is a believer in teaching her children from a young age to respect others and to expect respect in return. To do this, it takes the 3R's we don't normally think of when we think about elementary school education: reflection, relationship and resilience. Seems like these are sophisticated concepts for little kids but it's amazing how much they absorb and how simple the messages can be, for example:
THINK before you speak:

T - is it True?
H - is it Helpful?
I - is it Inspiring?
N - is it Necessary?
K - is it Kind?

Is it possible to teach young kids in school to be "mindful" before they speak or act? According to The Hawn Foundation (as in Goldie!), yes.

Post 9/11, Goldie was thinking about her legacy and after some mindful thought, decided that she had to make an effort to introduce something important but generally missing in the classroom. JOY.

Mindfulness curriculum, called the MindUP Program, is now available through Scholastic. It sounds very "new age" to talk about social emotional learning (SEL) and particularly mindfulness but it's just common sense. (MindUP is the cornerstone of the initiative, The Optimistic Classroom.) Teach children about the brain when they become school age and they will develop more of an understanding about their emotions, their behavior and their stress levels. It should come as no shock that stress makes it harder for kids to learn.

What's so cool about this training is that it's simple. Although many teachers may be resistant, in the end it's as much a benefit to them as it is to the student. A calmer, more thoughtful class is so much easier -- and much less draining -- to teach.

I sat in on one of the trainings and the teachers on hand who used the tools, were quite enthusiastic. One of the trainers was a principal in a high risk school. She said that incorporating simple techniques throughout the day, made even the emotionally challenged students able to control some of their aggressive impulses. One of the techniques is ringing a hand-held gong three times a day (or anything that makes a pleasant noise) and upon hearing that, the students stop everything and push all thoughts out of their brain in order to catch a breath and re-focus. Sound crazy? I don't think so. If adults did this at work, we wouldn't get so burned out.

Check it out. These techniques can even be used at home. Most of the time, "bullying" behavior is impulsive behavior gone unchecked. What if we taught our kids how to be in charge of their own feelings and behavior?

I think you're on to something, Goldie!

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