Okay, the truth is that creating an in-school Pink Shirt Day with lasting impact is tough. Yet, the day does offer the opportunity to warm up a school’s social climate.
The most effective way to combat bullying is from the inside – through student input and leadership. When adults tell kids what to do, or how to behave with one another, it doesn’t always work. In order for Pink Shirt Day events to reduce bullying a focus must be placed on relationship building and student-led initiatives. This post includes a simple breakdown of what bullying is, along with ways to support students to take ownership and responsibility for their school community:
Teach them the difference between teasing, everyday conflict, and bullying.
- Teasing is fun (when fun is had by all) and occurs between people of equal power
- Conflict is a passionate debate and/or disagreement between two people of equal power
- bullying is to intentionally hurt someone repeatedly – where one person is clearly more powerful than the other
Bullying is a relationship issue.
We all come from homes where people express themselves in unique ways; some healthy, and some not so much. Yelling, insulting, and berating one another may be how feelings or frustrations are communicated. To start with, we must awaken our awareness about these habits of communication. Then, we can start working on developing healthier relationships. Such as; stating our feelings and thoughts in a mindful and respectful manner. This work is not easy – but as relationships are what fuels our overall wellbeing – it’s well worth it!
Learn to read body language.
A large percentage of what we communicate to others occurs without words. The way we stand, walk, approach others communicates much of what we are feeling. If we are insecure, it shows. If we think we’re better than others, it shows. So many of the young people I’ve worked with are completely unaware of the story their bodies tell. So, I show them what I mean, and we work on different ways to stand or approach others to influence the way they are received by others. It seems so simple, yet we don’t usually teach this stuff in school!
Compassion and empathy reduce bullying.
Without being judgmental, we have to show (and not just tell) students how much happier they can be when they are more empathetic with others. One message I always express to the bullies is how much better it feels to be kind rather than hateful toward others. I plead with them to use their powers for good! Many bullies have the gift of gab, and are often quite popular. So, when they learn that they can use their power to lift their community up, rather than put it down – they can enjoy their power in a healthier way.
Once again, one day, once a year, where everybody wears pink does not impact a community all that much. But, creating a mentor or kindness club where students are empowered to create events, posters, etc. for their school can make all of the difference. Over time, the students themselves have the power to shift their school culture to one with more love and less hate.
The best way to prepare for this special day is to teach students how to self-inquire and better manage their reactions. If you exclaim how incredible it feels to do ‘good’ in the world – how fulfilling it is, then your students are bound to feel inspired. Naturally, when you teach social emotional learning lessons throughout the year you build a healthier community with less bullying. Anyway, Pink Shirt Day is coming u p this week – on Wednesday, February 24th.
Allow the students to create their own rules of engagement for the school – in their own words. They can present these words to the rest of the school with posters. Or, if you have time, they can act out examples to a student audience and get a conversation going. It’s fun and puts the students in leadership positions. And best of all – it works!
Happy Pink Shirt Day and don’t forget to register for our newsletter. This month you can still receive some pretty awesome SEL lessons.