Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

First Days of School -- Be Nice to the New Kid Month

By September 7th, most kids up to the age of 18 will be back in school in the U.S. so I've designated September as National 'Be Nice to the New Kid Month.
"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much."   —Blaise Pascal
If you've ever had to walk into a school knowing no one, I don't have to explain the importance of a peer introducing themselves or including you at their lunch table or sharing a book if you don't have one.  For most kids, the fear and anticipation of starting a new school is like jumping out of an airplane. You know other people have survived but you're not sure you will.  That one kind person can feel like soft welcoming ground.

Although I'm sure she doesn't remember me, I'll never forget the girl who was nice to the new kid.  When my family moved from a small town in Indiana to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was going into 8th grade.  I didn't know the language. I was leaving the world's best friends right before the best year of elementary. And my new brown and yellow uniform could not have been uglier (the phys ed uniform is too embarrassing even to describe) .  A trifecta of horribleness.

To say that I was scared is an understatement.  I wanted to be invisible until Carmelina broke away from her gaggle of friends and switched from Spanish to English as she took me under her wing.  She introduced me to as many people as she could and although they weren't mean, they didn't pay much attention to me either.  I kept thinking how grateful I was to her for getting me through the dreaded first day. Although most of the other girls didn't ever really warm up to me, Carmelina was kind every single day until graduation.

Kathryn Otoshi, author of the award-winning children's book,One, knows that this is a subject near and dear to my heart so she sent me a copy of Wonder.  It beautifully illustrates the plight of the new or different kid and the tangled ball of emotions most kids experience.  They need mentors.  We are their "Go-To Adults."

So when you drop your kids off at school and you remind them to "be nice to the new kid," know you're raising a leader and this former "new kid" is cheering you on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Empathy is Everything

It's been way too long since my last post.

There was no time or brain space to blog.  The only important thing became being with a family member who was fighting the good fight against cancer.

Since my brother-in-law's death, it has become even more clear to me how important empathy truly is to the spirit.  True suffering is the feeling of being alone.

Feeling alone is how children/teens feel when they have been belittled and demeaned and no one seems to care.  It's a feeling they don't have to have.  It's grief for an irrational reason.

For anyone who has had this feeling of loss, I think you'll agree that a little empathy goes a long way.

There are many ways to nurture empathy in children -- just ask the Kid President (Robby Novak).  Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome has 100 ideas on how to make the world a better place. If you've never checked out the Soul Pancake's Kid President videos, they're just the perfect thing to inspire empathy and action while making you and your kids have a laugh and a reason to dance.

Empathy is everything, especially when you've lost your reason to dance.