I attended a very interesting conference today on bullying offered by the SNAP program of Special School District. The speaker who came in was Barbara Coloroso, author of the book The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. Although I don't agree with Barbara on some of her fundamental viewpoints, I think much of what she had to say was very helpful and had some truth to it.In the workshop, Barbara talked about the difference between conflict and bullying and how to treat each one differently.
I agree with the life messages Barbara says children need to hear every day: I believe in you, I trust you, I know you can handle life situations, you are listened to, you are cared for, and you are very important to me. I think these messages are fundamental for kids to understand and know their worth as a child created in the image of God.
Another thing I'm mulling over in my brain is Barbara's insistence of not giving kids rewards for doing a good job or doing the right thing. She says that instead of telling a child you are proud of them you should help them find ways for them to use their gifts. I'm not sure though. I think its good for kids to know you're proud of them - I would think its part of feeling cared for. I think she may have been saying that if they worked hard for something show them your proud but if something comes naturally don't. Instead give them the tools to use that gift to serve others. In this way they will become more intrinsically motivated rather than seeking verbal praise for everything they do. I would go further and say that the reason this is going to be better for the child is because God gives each of us gifts to use in His kingdom to love and serve others. Of course the child is going to feel that internal reward when his or her purpose is being lived out.
Another piece I take from the workshop is Barbara's advice to thank kids for specific things they do and point out to them specifically what impact it has on living things rather than being general about what a good boy or girl or what a good helper they were. I think this is a great way of showing children their dignity and their role in being caretakers of God's creation.
There are a lot more interesting things I still want to sort through and process. We got her book for free by going to the workshop and I'm looking forward to reading it. One more book on my list for this summer ... I don't know if I can do it ... Math Work Stations, Comprehension from the Ground Up, and The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. That's a whole lot of reading and processing. I did notice at Amazon that you can get used copies of the books really cheap so if you're interested just click on the picture above and it's linked straight there.