In my book series, I never mention bullying, despite the fact my goal is to reduce bullying behavior. Instead, I focus on developing character, making good choices, expressing feelings appropriately and creating a positive future.
I did this because I believe if we empower our children, make them aware of their potential and encourage them to set goals that take them closer to their most incredible dream life, they’re less likely to choose negative behavior.
I do a workshop based on my book I’ve Got Plans: A kid’s activity book for a fun-filled future. Basically, I take children through the process of creating their lives, through goal setting and creative dramatics.
Every time I do one of these workshops I’m excited to see the students begin thinking about where they’re going in their lives, and how they get there. We talk about how important behavior is and how every choice we make takes us closer or farther away from living our dreams.
Once they hear that, the topic of bullying naturally comes up.
In a recent workshop, I asked the students to be honest with themselves about whether or not they’d ever bullied someone else in order to feel powerful, get attention or become more popular. A few began to get uncomfortable in their seats, clearly struggling with their conscience, as we discussed typical bullying behavior: verbal or physical abuse, intimidation and my biggest pet peeve—exclusion.
I needed to motivate them, so I stressed my next point. If you choose to bully, you are hurting yourselves just as much as you're hurting anyone else. They seemed surprised.
It made me wonder how much this topic comes up at home. I have no doubt they’d heard “be good, behave, pay attention,” etc., but it seemed they were lacking specifics, like why it was so important to do that.
They raised their hands, asking how bullying someone else would impact their own futures, and it opened up a powerful discussion about consequences and how easy it is to get knocked off your path. Statistically, kids who bully grow up to have trouble in relationships, can have difficulty holding a job and may even land in jail at an early age.
Suddenly, they began to look at bullying in a new way.
We’d all love to believe our children do the right thing—just because it’s right. I know it’s my intention. But sometimes that’s not enough. Kids need to know choosing negative behavior can stop them from achieving their goals. It’s motivating and it reminds them they have control over their behavior.
By the end of the workshop, I noticed a shift. Suddenly, a few of the kids, who were trying to seem “cool” at first, started to pay more attention to what I was saying. It became relevent to them.
Bullying isn’t so funny when it impacts you.
Taryn Grimes-Herbert is a screenwriter, performer and the author of the I’ve Got character-building book series for children, and was 2010’s Woman of Achievement in the Arts Honoree for Orange County, NY. Calling upon her professional acting experience on Broadway, film and television, she speaks out and takes her books into classrooms hoping to help kids build character, develop empathy and learn to create a positive future through creative dramatics activities.
Her books can also be found on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
For more information visit: http://www.ivegotbooks.net, Facebook or Twitter.