Kids are back to school and life is settling back into a routine after summer vacation. Autumn is here, known as Fall because it’s the time of year when leaves turn beautiful colors and fall as trees go into a winter rest.
The United Against Bullying program celebrates going back to school and the new season with our annual Coloring Contest. You can learn more about the prizes, the rules, and how to enter the contest at United Against Bullying Coloring Contest. The theme this year is “Kindness is Cool.” The goal is to start conversations in schools, and everywhere kids gather, on how kindness stops bullying. Sharing that kindness will make them feel good about themselves and make everyone else feel good, empowers kids to be their best and helps protect others from bullying.
This year we chose our mascot, Buddy the Safety Bear, to pose for our coloring contest. His message is always “be a buddy and not a bully.” The coloring sheet has a simple design to encourage your artists to think outside of the lines and be creative.
Telling stories and role-playing is a powerful way to help kids change their behaviors and reactions to bullying. Reading one of many books on bullying while kids are coloring is a good conversation starter.
I recently shared a story with a 10-year-old family member and then we had fun role-playing new possible responses. I took a Personal Development workshop and related one of the teachings to the child, who I’ll call Anna. The lesson went like this: you can’t control what anyone else says or does, but we can control what we say and do. That is the only thing we can control.
“No one can make you jealous, angry, vengeful, or greedy – unless you let him.” – Napoleon Hill
You can’t stop a bully from saying something mean to you but you can choose to say something back with kindness. If you don’t react with fear, if you don’t react with anger, and you change the subject or say something kind, the bully will stop. It’s very difficult for someone to keep bullying when the receiver won’t receive. So, Anna and I role-played doing this. Anna wears glasses. I played the bully and said ‘your glasses make you look stupid.’ Anna replied, ‘ya, I hate wearing them,’ and smiled. I came back at her with, ‘that’s a stupid t-shirt.’ Anna thought for a second and replied, ‘some mornings I just can’t decide what to wear,’ and pretended to walked away.
This little role-play empowered Anna and I could see she felt strong and happy with herself. We will continue to role-play so that she can respond in the moment to a real bullying situation. She has a bully in her classroom, a young girl who is not happy. We talk about having compassion for the girl, trying to help Anna understand the other girl is saying mean things because she’s unhappy. I will continue to remind Anna that the solution is to offer friendship and kindness, and that it will make her and the other students in her classroom feel good.
I can see a difference in Anna from these conversations. She recently took a kayak class. I asked Anna when I picked her up if she had fun and she said yes. Later she saw the feedback form and asked if she could fill it out. This from a girl who prefers soccer, dance, pretty much anything, to writing. She wrote:
We talked about what had happened and how it made her feel bad. We role-played what she could have said. It was interesting that Anna didn’t tell me about the bullying when I initially asked her if she had fun. Many kids won’t share about bullying, so it’s important that we start the conversations. I emailed the form to the organization who offered the camp and received a thank you response, advising that they will reinforce the discussion on bullying and respect at the beginning of each camp.
When we all speak out with the same kindness message, when we are United Against Bullying, each action has a ripple effect that creates change. We invite you to download the coloring sheet, make time for the kids in your care to have fun coloring Buddy the Safety Bear and his friend Squirrel, and take the opportunity to talk to and listen to kids about kindness and bullying.
Click here to download the coloring sheet: Buddy & Squirrel
To read inspiring and insightful interviews and to learn about upcoming contests, events, and news please subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter, The Ripple Effects by ‘Joining the Community’ at unitedagainstbullying.net.