Last year during Anti-Bullying Week, we spoke to Hannah Clark from The Outdoors School who encouraged us to look more closely at the root cause of why some children bully others rather than automatically writing them off or punishing them. She also told us about the restorative approach taken by The Outdoors School when it comes to disruptive and undesirable behaviour.
This year, we’re thinking about how to build up those struggling to manage their emotions in order to (hopefully) avoid harmful or hurtful behaviour before the cycle of bullying starts. And as with lots of things, the answer lies very simply in kindness. Which works well as the theme of this years campaign is #OneKindWord.
The power of kindness can not be underestimated. Kindness breaks down walls, it heals, it nourishes, it encourages and it builds people up. And the great thing about kindness is that it’s not hard to implement! Saying one kind thing to a peer is something most of our learners, with some support and guidance, can do. Cultivating a culture of kindness is a powerful but effective strategy that we are taking company wide in order to try and encourage relational harmony, rather than discord.
This doesn’t mean that we ignore or try to eliminate negative feelings or situations involving conflict. It’s important that we all, young and old, learn how to hold these feelings, process them and resolve them. But that doesn’t have to result in lashing out or hurting those around us.
Rather we encourage our learners to be honest about how they’re feeling, to tell others when they need time or space and to reach out for support when they’re struggling.
Thinking about kindness and bullying prevention isn’t just something we think about during Anti-Bullying Week or when an incident occurs. Rather, it requires an ongoing conversation among learners and colleagues, regular reminders about what behaviour we expect and unwavering support and encouragement as they learn how to both process their feelings and behave to their peers in a way they’d like to be treated.
Perhaps as this week draws to a close, it might spark some conversations with the kids and people in your life about kindness. Perhaps #onekindword could become a daily practice for your household? We’ll certainly be trying it here!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Marketing Officer & Forest School Leader
Date: Saturday 20th November 2021