Did you know the term “bullying” is 123 years old? Bullying continues to be an issue among students, with many short-term, long-term, and other horrifying side effects.
When we see how bullying affects everyone involved, it’s no wonder schools have been campaigning against bullying for decades. While, in Ontario for example, incidents of bullying seem to have dropped recently, it’s far from eradicated.
Maybe there’s a better approach to the situation. Maybe, instead of trying to stop the bad, we should be putting more effort into encouraging the good.
Intentional kindness vs. anti-bullying
It’s been documented that the words we choose and the way we think shapes our reality.
People often speak about promoting “bullying prevention” or the “anti-bullying” movement. Of course, this comes from a good place, but it also makes it seem like bullying is inevitable.
When we decide to foster “intentional kindness”, we aim to lift everyone up. Rather than focusing on the negative acts of bullying, we make the shift to encourage students to be good to each other.
The end goal is the same, but we can choose to focus on either the positive or the negative aspects depending on which phrases we use.
Three tips for fostering intentional kindness in your school
Lead by example
Whether you’re working with teenagers or preschoolers, kindness is contagious. Go out of your way to be kind to a neighbour or a coworker and tell your students about it. Share what the other person’s reaction was, and how it made you feel.
This shows your students that you practice what you preach, but it also shows them how simple it can be to do something nice, and how good it makes you feel afterward.
Make kindness fun
Keep the momentum going by showing your students how fun it is to be kind to the people in their life! Maybe you can create an afternoon kindness club, kick off a week-long kindness challenge, or start a good-deeds-a-thon where students pledge acts of kindness.
Feel free to add in some positive reinforcement by sharing some of the most outstanding deeds with the classroom or the entire school.
Try a kindness experiment
Chip and Joanna Gaines (yes, the stars of Fixer Upper) are issuing a challenge to make kindness loud. They’ve created flyers, available for download on their website, that are perfect for printing and hanging around the halls of your school.
Each flyer has a number of tags on it, each with a different good deed. Students can tear off a tag and make their chosen kind deed their mission for the week.
Alternatively, try out this version which focuses on inward acts of kindness.