Stop Bullying: Part I
Hello, February! It’s hard to believe January is already behind us. Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away now. While today’s post is about Valentine’s Day, I’ll clue you in: there’s a twist. It’s the first post of a short, monthly series I’m starting about anti-bullying <the Hot Topic right now>. What do Valentine’s Day and anti-bullying have to do with one another? Hey, great question! And here’s the connection. I’d like to propose a new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day that I believe can help put a stop to bullying: Small Acts of Kindness.
Valentine’s Day is currently marketed as a romantic holiday, which you may either love or hate, depending on where you are in life right now. But what if, instead of celebrating a romantic love, we chose to celebrate a neighborly love for our fellow men? This fresh perspective of Valentine’s Day certainly makes more sense when we’re encouraging our young children to celebrate the holiday. And I feel that this neighborly love is something we so desperately need in our homes, our schools, and our communities right now, and indeed always. So I would like to propose that this February Fourteenth, we move to make Valentine’s Day a holiday for all.
The Hot Topic
Social media has obviously added an entirely new angle to the bullying issue. Almost daily, I hear stories of children being bullied, sometimes to an extreme. And it appalls me. My first thought is to question what kind of parents would teach their children that this kind of behavior is acceptable? But my husband is always good to remind me that it’s not always the parents’ fault. There are things like the poor judgement of adolescence and peer pressure to consider.
I pray my children never suffer such severe unkindness from their peers like this. And I pray they never participate in bullying their peers as well. Still, this line of thought does get me to reflect on what I am actively doing as a parent to teach my children how to treat others.
“Be the Change You want to See”
I know this quote is a little cliche, but honestly, I don’t really care. I love it. It is short, sweet, and conveys a certain hope and motivation and light. Rainbows and sunshine and unicorns all crammed into one short sentence. Yup. It makes me happy. But back to the point. As I mentioned before, to be that change, I propose we make Valentine’s Day a holiday when we spread Small Acts of Kindness.
Let’s teach our children to open doors for those around them, and to smile as they pass others by. <Smiling is, after all contagious!> Let’s teach them to include everyone in their games on the playground and to sit with those who sit alone at lunch. Let’s teach our children to embrace those who are new, and to walk beside them. Let’s make a stand to stop bullying by teaching our children to be inclusive and caring and kind with one another.
Of course, for Small Acts of Kindness to have any tangible, positive effect, it is something we must practice daily. But celebrating Valentine’s Day in this manner opens an opportunity for discussion with our children about treating others with kindness. Let’s all actively seek out opportunities to lift one another up this Valentine’s Day.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day as a Family
Here’s a cute, simple, but thoughtful way you can celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family this year by spreading Small Acts of Kindness: give someone a heart attack! No, you didn’t read that wrong. In case you’ve not heard of this, let me explain. First, you’ll want to get some pink and red construction paper and cut out a bunch of paper hearts. It only takes a few minutes. Have your kids think of someone who is important to your family or who might be in need of a little pick-me-up. This gets them actively paying attention to the needs and well-being of those around them. Write one reason you appreciate them or one way they are special on each heart, until all the hearts are filled. Give them their “heart attack” – surprise your someone special by leaving the paper hearts some where they’re sure to find them!
I’d love to hear back from you! Post a pic of you and your family celebrating Valentine’s Day with the hashtag #SmallActsofKindness, or ask your kids what Small Act of Kindness they did for a class mate at school today.
For further reading on teaching kindness, check out my post 10 Children’s Books that Teach Friendship and Kindness.
Questions of the Day:
1. How do you teach your children to show kindness to others?
2. Have you talked to your children about bullying? How did you approach the topic?