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Welcome Educators! This blog is for you, the Educators. Please ask questions, share ideas and post testimonials about your program, what you're doing in your town and what is working for you. The more we share, the more successful we all will be. Happy Educating!

Monica Irvine
President, The Etiquette Factory

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Teasing & Bullying

Welcome back trainees! We’re making great progress. There are so many etiquette skills we and our children need to master, that it can be overwhelming. However, if we just concentrate on one skill at a time, we and the children we teach, will have a much better chance of success. This etiquette skill is a very serious subject and one that needs to be addressed on a more regular basis. It’s “Avoiding Teasing and Bullying.”

Teasing and bullying others are behaviors that are the complete opposite of proper etiquette. I’m sure if we were to ask our children if it is OK, to tease or bully, 100% of them would say, “No.” So why is teasing and bullying on the rise in our schools, so much that we are having to put into place “anti bullying policies?” In addition, school counselors have to take special training in “warning signs of victims of bullying?” For some reason, although children know its wrong, many are still participating in this rude, controlling and abusive behavior, without much fear or concern for the victims.

What can we do? Well, to start with, we must teach our children about the word “empathy.” Even our youngest children can learn and understand the concept of empathy. The way to start this training, is simply, anytime an opportunity arises that we can help our children imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes, do it. For instance, for younger children we might say, “How do you think that caterpillar will feel if we take it away from its family and friends? Why don’t we watch it for a while and then let it return to its family?” It doesn’t matter if the caterpillar doesn’t have a family, it’s the idea we’re teaching. For an older child, we might say, “Well honey, if you were in Ben’s shoes, and you were standing there while everyone was making fun of you, how would you feel?” Or “If you were Mrs. Heflin, and you had put a lot of time and energy in trying to prepare an interesting lesson, and then someone kept interrupting and distracting the other students from the lesson, how would you feel?” It’s so important that we constantly try to put ourselves in the “other person’s shoes,” so that we can make better, more thoughtful decisions. Learning to look at the world through other’s eyes is a wonderful gift. Sure, sometimes we still get selfish and just want to see things from our own perspective, but let’s try to remind ourselves more often to consider the other perspective, before we make a final decision. This takes practice. Discuss this concept a little at a time with your children, but always look for opportunities to ask them the “empathy” question. Our children respond so much more, when we simply suggest other ways to look at situations, and then let them decide, instead of forcing them to just accept our opinions and advice.

Another way to help our children understand the seriousness of bullying is to sit down as a family or a class, and have everyone take turns in answering the following questions:
When was a time when someone made fun of you or teased you?
How did it make you feel?
Was there anyone else around when this happened?
What did the other people who were present do?
How did it make you feel about the person who was teasing you?

You will be amazed at the interest and sincerity this conversation will bring. You will feel a spirit of healing as each child shares a time when they have been hurt. Hopefully, when your children hear others speak of when they’ve been hurt, and when your children hear when you’ve been hurt, they and you will feel compassion for one another. They will start to understand that when we tease or bully, it hurts people and that hurt doesn’t go away very easily. Discuss why a whole family hurts when one of the family members are hurting. Teasing and bullying can affect an entire family. To change people’s hearts, including our own, we have to look beyond ourselves. Sometimes, we never stop long enough to imagine the long term effects of our actions. As with all etiquette skills, this cannot be just a one time conversation. This conversation or the principles behind this conversation should continue as opportunity allows.

Very best,
Monica Irvine
CEO/The Etiquette Factory

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