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10 Random Acts of Social Media Kindness to Do With Your Kids

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Teach them how to wield the internet for good.

With the mere words “social media” striking fear in most parents’ hearts, it’s easy to get mired in the dark side of the internet: bullying and trolling and wasting time … oh my! We can’t keep our children off social media forever, however, so why not show them how to use the powerful communication tool to make people actually feel good about themselves? An act of kindness often leads to gratitude—and even scientists agree there are many benefits of that, including greater happiness, stronger relationships and an improved ability to deal with adversity. And what better time to start spreading online kindness and gratitude than National Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17? To help you kick it off, here are 10 social media ideas you can easily do with your kids.

1. Leave a positive comment. There is no shortage of toxic remarks from faceless strangers, emboldened by their anonymity, left on social media posts. Combat that negativity and lift somebody’s spirits—whether it’s a family member, friend or a boy who happens to enjoy posting makeup tutorials—by taking the time to offer a heartfelt compliment.

2. Create an upbeat post. Social media is a popular place to commiserate about everyday frustrations. While that can be therapeutic, the sheer volume of frustrations we come across can also become tiresome. Inject some positivity by brainstorming a post that inspires hope, happiness and/or a giggle, whether it’s a quote or an original drawing, and creating it with your child to share with your followers.

3. Send an e-card. This might seem old school, sure, but most e-card sites (such as JibJab and Hallmark) also allow you to send a card via Facebook—a sweet way to let somebody know you’re thinking of them.

4. Write a glowing review. Maybe your family enjoyed a fantastic meal at that new Italian place down the street. Or the local dry cleaner went above and beyond to have your favorite dress ready by the next day. Posting a complimentary review on Yelp or Facebook can go a long way in bolstering small businesses. You can even ask your kids what their favorite local hangout is and write a complimentary review together.

5. Donate toys and clothes. Although it can be hard to pry old stuffies and shirts that have been long outgrown from the hands of little ones, work together to set aside some items to donate and post them on a neighborhood Facebook page and/or a page that supports local foster families (a quick search by city usually reveals them, if available). As a certain famous organizing expert would say, give them to somebody for whom they’ll spark joy!

6. Start a pay-it-forward chain. Perform a random act of kindness offline—such as putting coins in an expired parking meter or leaving coupons in front of corresponding products at a store—and post about it, encouraging others to pay it forward and share how they did so in your comments. Hopefully, they’ll encourage their social media communities to follow suit. And boom! Pay-it-forward chain: activated.

7. Support a cause. Talk with your kids about the importance of supporting charities and nonprofits, which are increasingly relying on social media for donations, and select a worthwhile cause that’s near and dear to your hearts to help by sharing their mission and/or donating. Perhaps go a step further and hold a lemonade sale—which you and the kids can advertise to neighbors on social media—and donate the proceeds to that charity online. We’d raise a cup of lemonade to that!

8. Express how much your teacher rocks. You don’t have to wait until Teacher Appreciation Week to shout your love from the rooftops. Encourage your kid to drop a sweet comment about his/her teacher on the school’s Instagram account or sing the teacher’s praises in an e-mail to the principal. Because every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day.

9. Share a blog post. If you’re a fan of a lesser-known blogger, raise their visibility by sharing your favorite blog post. It can be hard for bloggers to gain traction in a World Wide Web overflowing with animal videos and car rants, and you’d be doing them a solid by helping them break through the clutter. Try to pick a post you can discuss with your kids, if possible, and explain why you enjoy it—potentially igniting a dialogue about what kinds of online content make them happy (and try not to roll your eyes if they enthusiastically launch into why they can’t get enough of watching kids open Kinder Eggs on YouTube).

10. Thank a service member. Search for #veteran on Instagram, and you’ll find many public profiles of brave men and women who’ve served in the military. Let them know how much you value their sacrifice and selfless service to our country with a simple, appreciative note.

 

This article was written by Candy Kirby from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for Kids

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“Be nice, and don’t be a bully.” Chances are your kids hear that all the time—at home, at school, or during their after-school activities. Instead of making kindness just another rule, what if we showed kids that it’s a superpower they can choose every day to make both themselves and others feel good?

Research shows that being kind increases happiness and well-being, and that kindness can lead to increases in peer acceptance. Here are 7 ideas for acts of kindness you can do with your child to help them grow confident in their abilities to impact the world around them.

 

A family shares a kind note at a Kindness.org event. 

 

1. Share a kind note

Words matter. What does your child have to say? Ask what kindness means to them and help them choose someone to surprise with a kind note. A new classmate, a friend, or a teacher’s aide are all great choices.

Your child’s note can be anything they want it to be, from a kind word on a piece of paper to a homemade card or letter you put in the mail together.

2. Demonstrate the power of encouragement

Grab some colorful sticky notes and pens. Ask your child to fill them with encouraging compliments like “You’re awesome”, “You can do this”, or “You’re a good friend.” Tell them you’re collecting them for someone special as a surprise.

When your child isn’t looking, add their name to the notes and hide them around the house for them to discover.

3. Pick up litter together

The next time you’re taking a walk with your child, collect a few items of litter together. It’s a great time to have a conversation about how each of us has the power to make the world around us more beautiful.

You can do this act of kindness in so many places—from the playground to the parking lot. While there are no guarantees, your child might just take a little more interest in keeping their toys from “littering” the carpet.

 

Kind note from a child that reads,

 

4. Find someone to thank

A kind word goes a long way. Wherever you go with your child, there is almost always someone you can thank for their help!

Encourage your child to say thanks to a teacher, a grocery store cashier, or someone holding the door for them. You can even make a game out of finding people to thank together.

5. Add gratitude to your evening routine

Asking your child what they are grateful for can be an eye-opening (and profound) experience. Try asking your child before bedtime what made them happy that day.

Kindness.org co-founder and chief strategist Melissa Burmester shares, “I’ve started doing this with my two-year-old and it’s become one of my favorite times of the day. Yesterday she was grateful for sunshine, fig bars, and Grandma. The day before that it was puddles to jump in.”

6. Play “I Spy Kindness”

Kindness is all around us if we start looking. Unexpected smiles. People helping strangers carry shopping bags. Someone who gives up their seat on the bus or train.

The more kind acts kids witness, the more ideas they’ll have for kind acts of their own! The next time you’re out running errands together, make a game out of spotting acts of kindness.

7. See something, do something

Kids pay attention and see more than we think. The next time your child asks a question about someone who is experiencing homelessness or about an issue on the news like immigration, do one small thing about it together as a family.

Help your child give gently used clothing to a shelter for families, make a donation, or volunteer together.

Jaclyn Lindsey, CEO and co-founder of Kindness.org, reminds us that while children may have trouble understanding the complexity of these issues, by doing an act as a family you are empowering them to feel like they can help.

“As a mom to 9-month-old Abel, I hope when he’s old enough to perceive these challenges, my husband and I have led by example. We want him to instinctively treat all people with dignity, never jump to conclusions about someone because of their circumstances, and to never look down on someone unless he is helping them up.”

Every act, no matter how small, makes a difference. (That goes for you, too!) Help your child engage their kindness superpowers today!

Jaclyn Lindsey and Melissa Burmester are the co-founders of Kindness.org, a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and inspire people to choose kindness through scientific research, education, and storytelling. 

 

This article was written by Melissa Burmester and Jaclyn Lindsey from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Goddard School Helps Build Confidence to Defeat Bullying

Preschool chain invites families to discover how playful learning nurtures skills to help prevent bullying

Throughout 2010, bullying has been on the rise at all levels of education. In an effort to combat this growing problem, the nation’s leading preschool franchise, The Goddard School, is reaching out with a renewed vigor to help families discover the benefits of playful learning at an early age and how it can prevent bullying. With their proprietary FLEX™ Learning Program, designed to build children’s self- confidence through play, The Goddard School hopes to break the cycle of bullying and halt a national trend.

According to Dr. Kyle Pruett, a child psychiatrist, published author, and advisor to The Goddard School, the success and enjoyment that preschool children experience through playful learning can help develop self-confidence. Confidence, along with strong parenting and learning to interact in a social group, is an important factor in helping children stand up to bullies.

“Confidence comes from competence, and there’s no better way for a child to discover competence than through play-based learning,” said Pruett. “When children learn through play, they become independent thinkers capable of solving problems themselves instead of seeking help from parents or teachers. That’s a huge self-confidence booster.”

Playful learning has been at the heart of The Goddard School’s core curriculum from the beginning. This approach to learning, which helps introduce children to new skills in a playful and engaging way, is supported by a growing body of research from Play for Tomorrow, the consortium behind the respected playful learning movement.

“We make learning enjoyable and we build in lots of opportunity for each child to experience the satisfaction of success,” said Joe Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., franchisor of The Goddard School. “A key benefit of this approach to learning is its emphasis on building self-esteem and confidence as children try, and succeed at, new challenges. A confident child is much less likely to develop into a bully or to accept bullying from another child.”

To jumpstart this initiative, The Goddard School will be hosting the Goddard Community Games event February 5 in communities across the nation. The focus will be on fun and enrichment, but also teach children about playing well with others and accepting each other’s differences. The event will also give families across the nation an opportunity to join with their children in playful learning programs selected from The Goddard School’s enrichment curriculum, including Sign Language, Yoga, Nutrition and “Rock ‘n’ Tot” pre-dance and creative movement.

“In our preschools, playful learning activities not only equip children with specific skills and knowledge, but also teach them about friendship, compassion, cooperation and kindness,” said Sue Adair, Director of Education at Goddard Systems, Inc. “In fact, as a part of this special day of fun and learning, the children will be involved in a ‘Good Deed’ – an outreach program that will benefit the local community. As we foster a sense of accomplishment and purpose in each child, we build a foundation of self-confidence that we believe is the best defense against bullying.”

To learn more about bully prevention in preschool and beyond or The Goddard School, visit http://www.goddardschool.com/games.

Could We All Be Bullies?

The majority of American parents have become increasingly worried about the probability that their children will be bullied, and they’ve begun to ask for solutions. A recent Harris poll found that two-thirds of parents worry that their preschool/kindergarten children will be bullied. Though bullying has been a part of human experience since before recorded time, our shrinking world increases its presence and possibly forecasts an increased toll to our children. My grandparents believed, ‘what didn’t break you, made you stronger’; today, we’re a little more worried about the ‘breaking’ coming before the ‘strengthening’ – especially among our youngsters.

Bullying is a problematic, but not inevitable, part of human interpersonal business. It differs from the usual scrapes and chafes of everyday life because of its intentional nature. Toddlers and preschoolers are busy working on their unique sense of self, using newly learned personal pronouns to announce what’s theirs. This includes their toys, body parts and random objects that catch the eye (see Toddler Property Laws in my book, ‘Me, Myself and I’). So, when someone unknowingly violates one of these property laws, ‘No, mine!’ gets screamed and a brief, small (in the scheme of things) social encounter of an aggressive nature may occur. A parent or teacher usually handles such incidents with some helpful words and – it’s on with the day.

Bullying, however, is an intentional, aggressive act – social or physical – with the sole aim of intimidating a peer. Such acts happen daily on the margins of adult supervision and as such are witnessed by most peers. Most of the children we know have either been a perpetrator, victim or bystander – since as long as they can remember, these three jobs may even be a continuum.

We are born with a drive to master the world around us, and a portion of selfishness and aggression seems to be part of everyone’s tool kit. Parents begin early by helping their children get the ‘dosage’ right, helped along by culture and society’s expectations. One of nature’s partners in this process is the innate capacity for empathy which shows up, developmentally, in the middle of the second year of life. Remember the toddler offering (temporarily) his binky or blankie to a sad friend?  How do we get from there to Michele Anthony’s descriptions of the painful social bullying in her Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-proof Girls in the Early Grades in just a few short years? Well, we could go on forever, but in this article’s worth of advice, I know parents are pretty sure they’d like to strengthen their child’s defenses against distressing stuff.

Supporting an early drive to care for one another is the winning strategy. The brain –and its hormonal partners- treat acts of kindness and caring with the same special care as it does warm human relationships. The ‘relationship hormone’, oxytocin, increases whenever such acts are performed, improving our capacity to regulate our emotions and get our aggression and selfishness under control. If parents can ‘catch’ their children in small acts of kindness and add a few words to explain why this feels good – to them and to the child, and why they value it so highly – resilience to bullying when parents are not around is under construction.

Speaking up about how we treat each other is an especially powerful tool in anti-bullying strategies because it has the power of majority.  Bullying feeds on our silence. Let’s help each other and our children find our voices.

Learning to Play Together: A Parents’ Guide to Bully Prevention in Preschool and Beyond

In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accept each other¹s differences.  Learning this at such a young age is critical, especially since, according to some research, bullying has become more common among two to six year olds.

Preschool-age children will often engage in unfriendly interactions with other children.  It’s the nature of growing up and it’s important to be able to identify the difference between this type of exchange and bullying.

According to Sue Adair, Director of Education at The Goddard School, “Usually, in a bullying situation, the child doing the bullying is intentionally trying to hurt or upset the other child.  A minor social spat is a normal occurrence in childhood play – ­one child grabs a toy from another and the other child cries.  This behavior is not intentional and situations like this actually help children learn to forgive and share.”

“At The Goddard School, we use The Goddard Guide to Getting Along to help instill the importance of courtesy and respect in our Preschoolers through activities, songs and guided dramatic play,” states Adair. “Since children at this age are still learning how to play together, is it an important time to teach them about friendship, compassion, cooperation and kindness.  Along with these traits, we believe the best way to prevent bullying is to build children¹s confidence.  Confident children tend to avoid being bullied and also avoid becoming bullies themselves.”

Tips for Developing Healthy Confidence in Children

  • Set the example. Ron Shuali, Founder of Shua Life Skills and author of Building the 21st Century Child: An Instruction Manual, stresses, “Teachers, parents and childcare providers should be aware of their own behavior all of the time.  Adults serve as ‘models’ for children who respect them and may wish to emulate them.”  Your child will pick up on whatever feelings you convey about yourself ­ whether good or bad.  Try to always speak positively about yourself and your child will follow.
  • Praise and encourage. No matter what your little one does, whether it’s a scribbled mess or a perfect reproduction of the Mona Lisa, be sure to praise them for their effort.  Every bit of praise and encouragement you can give is another boost to their self-confidence.
  • Develop a skill. If your child expresses interest in a particular hobby, help them master it by signing them up for classes or lessons.  As they develop this skill on their own, they will become more enthusiastic about learning and trying new things and feel better about themselves overall.
  • Trust. As your child grows, try entrusting them with age-appropriate responsibilities around the house.  Allowing your child to take on their own responsibilities will help foster their independence and allow your child to feel more confident in making their own choices and decisions.
  • Listen. What your child has to say is just as important to them as what you have to say is to you.  Remember this when your little one is trying to express their thoughts, dreams and fears.  Listen attentively and offer your own advice or guidance should they need it.