Active Empathy — The Antidote to Bullying

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{Active Empathy — The Antidote to Bullying} Opinion?

{Active Empathy — The Antidote to Bullying} Opinion?Stories surrounding the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School mention how people noticed the perpetrator “had issues.” That people knew the young man had been picked on.

Bullied.

Isolated.

This troubled boy’s mental health and anger-management issues are now being scrutinized by parents, teachers, administrators, and mental health professionals across the country.

Who should have gone beyond simply RECOGNIZING the early warning signs, and actually INTERVENED? 

When my daughter was 5, she came home from kindergarten crying because a girl at her school kept saying she hated her and threw things at her. I told my daughter:

“Just stay away from her.”

A few weeks later, on a field trip, this girl told my daughter she was going to push her in front of a bus. My child came home positively frightened of this girl. I asked why she didn’t just stay away from her as I’d told her, and she said, “I can’t. My teacher said I HAD to be her partner. That’s my JOB.”

Immediately, I made an appointment to talk with her teacher about this “bully” to request that she not be paired with my daughter anymore.

Her teacher listened to my concerns and knowingly nodded and acknowledged that she knew about each incident. Then she smiled and enthusiastically boasted about how this 5-year-old had come such a long way: She used to be physical, but now she had finally learned to use her voice instead!

This teacher had purposely paired my daughter with this child. She trusted her with a special job. This girl needed a kind friend — someone who cared enough not to walk away when she got angry or said hurtful things.

So instead of abandoning the girl, my daughter was being taught to calmly reply:

“{Name}, you seem angry. 

                    Did something happen that you want to talk about?”

I was embarrassed. And humbled. The very words I was using to “tattle” on this young girl’s shortcomings were viewed by this teacher as a celebration of her social-emotional development.

{Active Empathy — The Antidote to Bullying} Opinion?It had never occurred to me that my daughter had both the POWER and the RESPONSIBILITY to help this child — a girl just like her, but with a more difficult childhood.

As a parent, our first instinct may be to isolate our sons and daughters from children with “issues” so that their bad habits don’t “rub off on” our little ones. But this is exactly when our children are being called to reach out. If only they knew how…

This dedicated expert in child development was doing just that. She taught my daughter that instead of reacting in defense, she should pause, think about what might be causing this girl to be angry in the first place, and reach out. She taught my child not just to HAVE empathy, but to ACT on it.

A few years later, we passed this girl coming out of a gymnastics class, and my daughter said, “Remember her? That’s that girl who used to be so mean to me. But she’s really nice now.”

  • What a gift this teacher gave to THIS GIRL, whom she never gave up on.
  • What a gift this teacher gave to MY DAUGHTER: Encouraging her to model and inspire immediate, unconditional compassion for others — right when they need it most.
  • What a gift this teacher is giving to SOCIETY as she empowers generations of kindergarteners with the easy-to-remember words — a simple script — for empathy.

Let’s chat in the comments,

Sarah

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Your “RUNNING ON EMPATHY” challenge:

Model active empathy in your home. The next time your spouse or child erupts in anger, instead of absorbing that negativity and firing something back in the heat of the moment, simply nod knowingly and, with genuine empathy, respond:

I can see that you’re angry right now.

     Do you want to talk about it?

              Or do you want me to let you be so you can calm down and think about what to do next?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Sarah Thurs | Running on Empathy
About Sarah

As a mother of two, self-professed introvert, and recovering perfectionist, Sarah aspires to help quiet women and overlooked children to SHINE. She reflects on the page and in her life the tenets of Montessori, Love & Logic, and Acorn Theory. For 15 years she has put her talents in action by editing and developing educational books, software, and other learning materials in the fields of speech, language, & social-emotional development.

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Image Credit: Thank you to D. Sharon Pruitt of Pink Sherbet Photography for sharing these lovely images under Creative Commons!

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80 Comments

  1. Christy, The Simple Homemaker
    January 14, 2013

    What a difficult concept to put into practice, but it is very important. As a parent, I struggle to walk the line between protecting my children and freeing them to be the gifts they were designed to be, gifts, perhaps, to society, or perhaps to one hurting person. Thank you for this reminder. Beautiful images and well-written. Blessings on your week.

    Reply
  2. Kristina Patton
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you for this. My son is 5 and going into Kindergarten in the fall. As I prepare for school registration, bullying is at the top of my list of worries. As a quiet shy little girl, I was never subject to any bullying as a child, so I’m unsure of how to handle it if it ever happens. This story made me cry, but also gave me the hope that it’s possible to overcome. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Jessica Lovitt
    January 14, 2013

    Very well written, indeed. It did make me cry to read it. But in that beautiful, flower-petals opening sort of way. Rather than pray my children never have to face such a difficult situation, I felt my heart open to the opportunities they could have to be a gift to others. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Wallst4bullz
    January 14, 2013

    Well this is just crazy.I would never subject my child to act as a “therapist” for another child. Obviously the troubled child needed help but from an experienced child psychologist not an another 5 year old child. I would have been furious if my child was allowed to be bullied and threatened and told to take it by a teacher.Who is thinking of this child’s mental welfare while she is supposedly helping this bully. Why wasn’t the parent informed and asked if they wanted their child involved in this? A child that threatens to pus another in front of a bus is very disturbed and this is ludicrous for the teacher to use the other student being threatened not to stay away from her.This “story” has a happy ending so far but how does one know this troubled child will not revert to this behavior since it was mentioned she didn’t have a positive home life? Absolutely ridiculous

    Reply
    • Joe Thompson
      January 14, 2013

      I feel like this sort of response to a story such as this is the exact reason why it is so difficult for our society to make meaningful strides when it comes to school violence and/or bullying. What you refer to as “subject(ing) my child to act as a ‘therapist’ for another child,” is what many of us recognize as an important part of teaching 5-year-olds how to get along with one another, a process which entails actually learning to care for one another as peers (or “friends” as they refer to all students in the Montessori school that my children attend). And it is exactly this sort of caring within community, even at 5-years-old, that we need to help prevent violence of all sorts.

      You see, the Montessori philosophy recognizes and deals with a fundamental truth about human community: that we all are responsible for one another. If a 5-year-old is having difficulty with anger and is beginning to act and speak like a bully, it is helpful for all of us to realize that this isn’t simply a problem for someone else (i.e. the teacher, the “bully’s” parents, a school psychologist). Certainly all of those people can and perhaps should be involved. But what this story so beautifully illustrates is that there are classrooms out there where kids are truly learning how to get along in this world together–not by ostracizing someone as a “bully,” but by learning how to talk through difficult emotions and interactions. There is absolutely no way to measure the impact that this teacher may have had upon this world in teaching even just one student how to react to a peer in such a humane and caring way. And that’s just the point, isn’t it? If more of us, students AND PARENTS, knew how to respond to those that are struggling around us, our communities and schools would be far safer than we could ever quantify and we would be better people for it.

      Reply
      • Stargazer
        January 14, 2013

        No one said to ostracize the child and if another child is upset and frightened then the Montessori concept is not working. Now living in the real world where the majority of people do not operate or live their lives under “Montessori philosophies” the real issue here is the safety of a frightened,abused and innocent 5 year old. It’s such a wonderful idea of everyone being each other’s friend but ,alas ,that isn’t the way it is. Unfortunately you must deal with others as they really are and not the way your utopian mind would want them to be. I am not a bitter unhappy person with no friends but on the contrary,I am a parent who teaches their child to be compassionate and see the good in others. But as it is in this real world you must be careful and protect yourself from those that may cause you harm.

        Reply
      • LetsLassotheMoon
        January 16, 2013

        Joe, thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful response… for looking at the bigger picture.

        Reply
  5. Msdebagain
    January 14, 2013

    As a parent I totally agree that I would be furious that my child was paired up with a”physically abusive and threatening” bully in order to act as a therapist. Threatening to push someone in front of a bus is obviously a child who is disturbed. And a child who needs help but not at the cost of another child to be told its her “job” to help this bully. My heart goes out to the child and what she went through and the weight she was made to carry in order to help this disturbed child!

    Reply
  6. Msdebagain
    January 14, 2013

    I cannot believe what I am reading …where do people think they can go out in the world and fix things on their own yet put their child in danger while attempting to do so. The aggression this bullying child is displaying needs to be addressed by a professional not assigning another innocent child the “job” to fix the problem. If you hadn’t noticed disturbed children in dysfunctional homes can and may become violent young adults . Just because this child “seems nicer” now doesn’t mean her root problem stemming from any number of factors are resolved.

    Reply
  7. Msdebagain
    January 14, 2013

    I would have sued the school and teacher for putting my innocent child under mental distress and possible physical harm. Get real people …there are disturbed kids out there and desperately need professional help. And a child who threatens to push another in front of a bus falls in the disturbed category…quit thinking you can fix the world and yet at the expensive of your own child..all sunshine and happy thoughts with loving intentions until another Columbine occurs when this so much happier kids grow up while they were hinting at the violence they were capable and threatening to do.

    Reply
  8. Caryndw
    January 14, 2013

    I understand the positives of that kind of experience, but there is something very wrong as well. This teacher should never have given your daughter that burden without talking to you first. I’ve worked with a lot of kids with behavior challenges in the last and I can vouch for the importance of a good peer influence. However, in a situation where the child has a history of violence and is through serious issues, the teacher should have at least called you first, to make sure you were ok with such an arrangement and to warn you of the things your child could come home taking about.

    Reply
  9. Carolyn Wilhelm
    January 14, 2013

    Fabulous story and empowering information for parents (teachers, students). Thanks so much for posting this! Pinned!

    Reply
  10. Diane Steinke
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you for sharing! I completely disagree that a teacher needs to be chastised (or sued!) for encouraging children to work out their problems together. Five-year-olds can be very angry (I have one) and have learned to use some very angry words. But we *all* need to learn to function in this world of imperfect humans. I think bullying, violence, and school shootings are on the rise precisely because we have forgotten (or never learned) how to empathize. Who hasn’t said “I want to kill so-and-so” at least once in a moment of anger or weakness? Do you want to be demonized and thought of as mentally ill because of it? Would isolating, labeling, and shaming you have helped solve your problems?

    Reply
    • Trixy6kidz
      January 14, 2013

      I did not write to say this troubled child should be “isolated,labeled,demonized or institionalized” I do not believe another child without the permission of that child’s parents should be made as her “job” to be subjected to threats and intense bullying to the point where that 5 year old child is in the writers words “terrified”. See I am using actual words used by the expressed writer. If you would want to subject your child to that situation in the name of “empathy” then by all means just be aware that your own child may develop some type of regressions and fears. Of course every adult had said things abstract like “I am so mad at so in so I could kill them”.Children do not think in abstract and their actions are instinctual and often without rational thought. That is why children depending on the state cannot be convicted of certain crimes. A child who threatens to push another in front of a bus needs much more than empathy and this was not two 5 year olds scrabbling over a toy

      Reply
  11. jill
    January 14, 2013

    my 10 year old daughter was bullied and harrassed by an emotionally disturbed girl, who self-admitted, took medication to help with her issues. I met with the principal and school counselors numerous times to try to resolve this. I was told that the troubled girl used to be alot worse and that my daughter needed coping skills to help her deal with it. I was furious and am still very disappointed in this school, the principal and counselors. I could not believe what I was reading above and it’s nice to see other parents feel as I do. Young children do not have counseling skills and coping skills to deal with aggressive, mean behavior. Isn’t that why the adults are in charge? Unbelievable, but yes, believable!

    Reply
  12. Pfilak
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you, Sarah, for your post — for the insights you shared. I am so glad your child had the opportunity to experience what she did. It reinforces the idea that we are never going to be able to really make a difference in human behaviors trying to govern it from the outside (laws, rules, shunning) but if we can each make internal changes to view every person (even the very hardest to even like) with love and caring, we and they will be in a better place. As we are all always learning from one another, in a case like the one you describe we have the opportunity to be giving others time to learn and/or heal.

    Reply
  13. Hadley
    January 14, 2013

    I’m sorry, but while I understand why you want to applaud this teacher, if she really was teaching your child to respond to bullying with, “You seem angry. Did something happen you want to talk about?”, I am shocked. As someone who has a significant amount of experience working with children, I would not recommend this tactic. I do think that helping your daughter and other children to learn how to have empathy is important, but at the same time, they also have to learn how to firmly, but kindly assert themselves without having to be therapist to a peer. A more pragmatic, yet still caring way to help coach your daughter might be something such as, “It is not ok to talk to me like that, even if you are upset. Please don’t do it again.” And then I would encourage your daughter to attempt to include this child in play at a time when the child is not “raging”. You could also talk with your child at home and ask if they have any insight as to why this girl acts in such a harsh manner. Sometimes kids will easily identify the problem: She doesn’t have any friends; she says her mommy went away and left her; she’s always really tired; etc. Helping your child understand WHY this other child bullies will help her have more self-esteem and lessen the impact of the bully’s words. I would however also let her know that it is perfectly acceptable and expected for her to seek help from her teacher if this child continues to threaten or bully her after your daughter has calmly stood up for herself because regardless of the cause, this other little girl’s behavior is not acceptable. If your daughter continues to set limits and stand up for herself, and then also makes the stretch to reach out to this little girl when it feels safe to do so…that’s asking plenty of her as a 5 year old peer.

    Reply
    • Val
      January 28, 2013

      I love your comment Hadley. As a child I had a “not in my presence” attitude towards bullying, and would stop it in its tracks from a young age. I’m not sure where I learned it, but the approach above was the one I always chose & it’s effective, even still today in adult situations. Bullies should be shown their bad behavior will not be supported or tolerated in the least. But when they are calm, they should be actively reached out to & included(but not chased; if they refuse and then kids overly insist, it provides another outlet for negative behavior). This shows that when they are calm and kind, they will be accepted and have friends. Behavior is usually shaped by results & consequences. In layman’s terms: if someone gets what they want, the behaviors used to achieve it will be repeated. People are shaped by this their entire lives.

      Reply
  14. N09
    January 14, 2013

    It could have been done differently, but that girl is probably not disturbed. Chances are, she’s just saying and doing what she has learned at home. It’s how she had been shown to handle conflict. There definitely are better ways that the teacher could have gone about it, but suing or firing her for caring about the well being of a child is a bit much. She may have changed the life of a girl who otherwise could have become a future school shooter. To an extent, I agree with what she did.

    Reply
    • Legaleagle
      January 14, 2013

      And how do we know that this child in the future will not be a school shooter? Because she seems so much nicer now? How would a child hear at home to push another child in front of a bus?And if that is true shouldn’t that family be looked at for what is going on there? I never read anyone saying the teacher should be fired. And yes if this abused,bullied child was injured during school there would definitely be grounds for a lawsuit. Every parent has the expectation of a safe environment for their child at school. This bully should have been approached with the concept that her behavior is not acceptable and giving this child the time and attention to communicate what she is feeling would make sense. Allowing this bully to see acceptable behavior and not be ostracized is key but putting another child in harm’s way in showing empathy isn’t what is needed. The child has to be taught what behaviors are accepted by society

      Reply
  15. maggy, red ted art
    January 14, 2013

    Wow, I find this story humbling and it has definitely given me food for thought! Thank you.

    Maggy

    Reply
  16. Wareham823
    January 14, 2013

    I’m actually surprised by the response. Maybe that’s the problem…maybe if more people showed compassion and empathy towards others, even when they’re being bullied, it will speak to the bully. Maybe that’s child home life is not what it should be and that’s exactly what that child needs. I don’t see that the child being kind is being a therapist…she was just showing kindness. Wow people…a child being kind to another child should be a GOOD thing. This is what’s wrong with our society. A lot of times parents of bullies, are bullies themselves…so they’re not going to see a problem and they’re not going to get them professional help. Open your eyes.
    “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” -Jesus Matthew 5:39-42
    “But I tell you; Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers , what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” -Jesus Matthew 5:44-48

    Reply
    • Citycountrygirl
      January 14, 2013

      Well from what I recall the very students who showed empathy were the very ones not spared during violent episodes from other students. I believe in kindness and acceptance between all children but if another child is throwing things at my child and threatening physical harm I draw the line at my child being around that child until her issues are addressed. I think respect between children is paramount but this is not a simple disagreement or two kids not getting along. If you want to turn the other cheek or whatever because once your child is injured physically by this troubled child you can quote scriptures at her bedside in the hospital or worse.

      Reply
  17. ADMama
    January 14, 2013

    This is a beautiful story. I was all ready to be on the angry parent bandwagon, but I am completely overwhelmed with the compassion of the teacher and your clearly very special daughter. No child is perfect. Every child needs guidance – just some get more guidance at home than others. And I’m sure your daughter was one of many, many tools that this teacher used to help the child in distress. I would also imagine that your daughter was given support and supervision by the teacher. Afterall, the teacher did already know about the incident. Every day teachers make many, many judgement calls about child behavior and how to deal with it. The EASIEST thing is to start a punitive process. What a special teacher to take the time to build a community for this child. I am a little startled by some of the angry comments, but I also understand the mama bear perspective… I live in that space too. And because of that, I do appreciate your taking the time to share this beautiful approach. It helps my own parental perspective.

    Reply
  18. Hk51990
    January 14, 2013

    I think the message is that we should start teaching our children to communicate and be empathetic with one another which is what I believe the teacher was trying to accomplish. I think the teacher was thinking of the mental welfare of both children. It is one thing for a child to see a Psychologist and sit in a quite room and say, “so lets talk about that situation” and another to have a social teaching moment in the present. Teaching our kids how to react is just as important as teaching how to behave. It’s very easy to call a child disturbed and teach our children to just stay away. Then we as a society don’t really need to deal with the problem and turn our heads so to speak. Communicating is a basic life skill that should be taught by teachers who are professionals in their own right. Teachers are with our kids 5 days a week spending 25+ hours. I know that there are many lessons to be learned. We all want something to be done to stop these senseless shooting. You can take away the guns and put police officers stationed at our schools but if we don’t teach children other’s differences and how to communicate effectively, an important life lesson will be lost. Our kids whether typical or nontypical need help with communicating…not just staying away.

    Reply
  19. Jill_amomwithalessonplan
    January 14, 2013

    As a child who was naturally empathetic, quiet and happy to “get along”. I have mixed reactions to the way the teacher handled the situation. I spent my entire school life being paired with the kids who had a hard time with others because I would be nice no matter what. I would never complain and I’m sure I made a difference to a few of them along the way. BUT I hated school, I was constantly knocked down even though I tried so hard to be nice. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I acquired the skills to say “No, you may not treat me that way. I will gladly be your friend and a good one. But I will protect myself first. I expect respect and kindness. I think you deserve that and I think I deserve that as well.”

    I believe this teacher was on the right track. If she would have spoken to you from the beginning, the line of communication could have been open and you would have been been able to really monitor the effects on your daughter. Things may have been different for me through school if I was not just expected to “be nice” but also given the tools to be kind while standing up for myself as well.

    Thank you for taking such an honest look at this… it is an issue that needs to be discussed. If we can all stay calm and remember that there is no “right” answer we just might be able to work together to find solutions that are beneficial to everyone.

    Reply
  20. Momtofive
    January 14, 2013

    To use my child as a councilor for a child who is physically throwing things and threatening her to the point where she comes home and is “positively frightened” has nothing in common with showing empathy. If this story was about a child who needed acceptance and support fitting in or is being bullied and standing up showing they would be friends would indeed be heart warming. Allowing your child to be abused and telling them to tolerate it for the sake and hopes another child will stop the abuse is not addressing the real issues the bully has. I think it’s more important and what I taught my children is to form a strong supportive wall around anyone being bullied or in this case abused to show the bully their behavior will not be tolerated or encouraged. Also the bullies will be welcomed in all aspects once they stop this behavior which no one likes

    Reply
  21. Robin Payes
    January 14, 2013

    I think it’s important to differentiate between an impoverished family environment and serious mental illness in a discussion like this. Many disadvantaged or low-income children suffer in the cycle of poverty and never see good role models in their lives that could change their point of view. If violence is the norm at home, that’s what children will act out at school. I am thinking that the 5-year old was not the only guide here, but the teacher and, perhaps other school social workers, would be part of a case team. If the 5-year old was seen as stable AND given the support, training and watchful eye of adults around her, it would be important for this would-be bully to see peer role-models as well as the adults in her community, to model good behavior.

    If mental illness is involved, that’s a whole ‘nother can-of-worms. Either way, I think Sarah as the parent should have been informed and, perhaps, even brought into the picture…what about having a play date after school or benefiting from a clearly nurturing home environment in other ways – under supervision, of course?

    Reply
  22. LetsLassotheMoon
    January 14, 2013

    THANK YOU. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment here. I love seeing all of you openly sharing your points of view below. I am so honored to have Sarah writing on Let’s Lasso the Moon as we move into 2013. THIS my friends, this is the power of blogging… opening door to important topics that we as Modern Moms need to discuss with one another. Let’s keep the lines of communication open. I have lots of thoughts, but alas my schedule calls. More replies tonight and throughout the week. Keep chatting!

    Reply
  23. Dadforzach
    January 14, 2013

    Wait a minute then when one of our children is doing something wrong and in this case physical and verbal abuse to another child we should just show empathy to the child that is doing wrong ? So no more time outs because we will be isolating the child ? I agree with whoever wrote that children must be taught behavior that is accepted by society. Hopefully a parent is not as delusional to think that once their child becomes an adult that if they bully or cause grief to another adult that their grown child will be allowed to do this and will be shown “empathy” out in the real world. Pretty cruel world out there with bigger bullies and society does not and will not put up with non desirable behaviors. Best to teach your children how to act properly in the safety of your tutelage instead of expecting your child to be shown empathy and bad behaviors excused.

    Reply
    • regchi1
      January 15, 2013

      Do you then believe that this 5 year old bully was being taught how to act properly in the safety of her tutelage?Perhaps her home environment wasn’t optimal. Maybe she has a mental or a neurological disability that doesn’t allow her to understand social norms or read between the lines. Maybe her negative behavior served a function like getting attention? Maybe she want a friend so badly, but for whatever reason, didn’t know how to go about it? Any time a child uses a behavior that is successful in meeting a need, the behavior is likely to be repeated. So is this girl a problem or does she have a problem? The writer doesn’t say that this child never received any consequences, like a time out, and just received empathy for her action. Many of us have learned to deal with problem behavior by doing nothing until they occur. But what social skills is it teaching these children? Behaviors are governed by their consequences so shouldn’t we focus also on teaching the positive behaviors skills for both parties involved? You’re right to say it is a cruel world and people in today’s society won’t show empathy for negative behaviors because that is what has been taught. I guess my question is, how is that working for us? It may sound delusional, but hopefully once these children have grown to be an adults, the positive social skills that have been taught at early age will carry them through generations.

      Reply
  24. Allison McDonald
    January 14, 2013

    I clearly remember the day in grade one when my teacher pulled me aside after school with my mom and asked if I could be Miles’ special buddy. Miles peed his pants all the time no one wanted to be his buddy but my very favorite teacher was asking me to be so he could have a friend at school. This was done with my mom present and included in. I think my teacher 30 years ago was doing what this teacher was trying to do. Give the child who is on the periphery a peer guide to steer them back into the fold before they were so separate and the damage too great. There are a lot of ways to create inclusive classrooms and I see the end goal this teacher was going for but the peer guide didn’t seem to have as much support as she should have been given. I like that she was taught to show empathy but the threats are big red flags. I am glad she ( the 5 year old daughter) wasn’t harmed in the long run and that the peer guidance she provided worked . I also hope that since this situation that that teacher has fine tuned her ability to use this type of partnering in her class so no fear or bullying is included .

    Reply
  25. Gina Morales
    January 14, 2013

    I’m in tears. This is beautiful. May God bless this teacher, your child and you. What a brilliant example of lassoing the moon. Well done on everyone’s part. I’m curious to know the convo that happened between you and your daughter after the conference with the teacher. Clearly, you are doing so much right with your daughter and what validation to have her chosen as an empathy advocate by her teacher. Thank you for this!

    Reply
  26. Momof3,friendtomany
    January 14, 2013

    I really do think that this is a great story, but has some flaws. As an advocate for inclusion whenever possible, and with a degree that deals specifically with special needs – both mental, physical, and developmental – I must say that a line was crossed when the teacher entrusted the role of peer role model to the five-year-old without both talking with her parents and obtaining their support, but also talking with the girl herself, and also enlisting her willingness. Our children are not pawns, and requiring a child to do something out of obligation or under the guise of “her job” doesn’t foster the heart needed to really help others. Maybe if the girl had been given an explanation (I’m sure she was cognizant of some of the issues of the troubled girl) and had had opportunity to discuss the responsibility, and also privilege of such a job, with her parents, the benefits would be even greater… That not only the young troubled girl would experience proper socialization that ultimately results in the extinction of unacceptable behaviors, but also see that we DO have a responsibility to help others – and that that can happen relationally.

    Reply
  27. Sarah Thurs
    January 14, 2013

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I think, as parents, we’re all searching to find a comfortable balance between ensuring the safety of our children and embracing our shared responsibility to create compassionate and empathetic young people.

    In kind response to your comments…

    I am moved by the empathy many of you expressed toward my daughter and appreciate your concern for her welfare. We would not have moved forward with this approach had my husband (also a teacher) and I not witnessed my daughter’s genuine sense of empowerment in being trusted to act as a positive peer model to someone who so clearly needed one.

    We kept in close contact with the teacher each morning at drop-off and each afternoon at pick-up. My daughter, my husband, and I had engaging, real-world conversations about what happened at school every day. We were actively helping our daughter deal with the tough situation we knew she was facing. And we were helping someone else’s daughter deal with her own social-emotional challenges.

    The teacher in this situation (whom we already trusted and had a close, personal relationship with at our small school) gave my daughter the words to use in her interactions with this child. These directives empowered her to be an effective peer role model, while also maintaining her personal safety. The statement I featured in this article, “{Name}, you seem angry…” was just one of many directives she was being taught. I chose to feature this particular one since it was specifically related to empathy, the topic of my post.

    I offered my story not to advocate that we make our young children the therapists of the world, but merely to share how my child inspired ME to find the courage to meet anger with empathy and compassion. A big lesson for her. And for us all.

    Reply
  28. Stacy of KSW
    January 14, 2013

    My son is playing this role this year. The first two months of school were such a challenge for us both but he has settled in to his role and I find myself sympathizing for the other child. I don’t know yet what will happen to either one of them, but each day I pray they will become friends.

    Reply
  29. Mariem
    January 14, 2013

    I don’t understand how the parent of the child writes how closely she and her husband were working with this teacher when she says she only became aware of this situation only after her daughter was positively frightened and they talked to the teacher. At this point, much had already transacted without the parent’s knowledge of this “peer empathy” arrangement. I find it strange that no one picked up the one excellent idea where other children rally around those who are being bullied. Those who bully could be discouraged within their peer group by showing empathy to the one being BULLIED not the bully. When the bully sees his meanness is not acceptable and others like this person …he will make the change. And in so will gain some comfort and security knowing this is not liked by others and he himself would be supported if this somehow started to happen to him.

    Reply
  30. Starsabove
    January 14, 2013

    What a positive approach one responder expressed by having the other children rally around the person being bullied and not the bully themselve. Certainly this makes so much more sense than having a parent telling their bullied child to endure the abuse in the hope that the bully will stop. I think it is so silly to have a 5 year old child to ask the one who is threatening them, open ended questions that were given to her by a teacher. Then if the bully does answer…what kind of response is this child supposed to give back.The poor kid was only given the questions to ask.If a child was stealing from other children’s desk,which is much less of an infraction than bullying another child,would nothing be done but give the child empathy because he is stealing. Showing the bully his actions are neither acceptable or tolerable is what that is needed.

    Reply
  31. Susieq
    January 14, 2013

    I agree with those on the supporting of those being bullied and not the bully. A great idea like this should be explored and that would help teach empathy at an early age instead of this turn the other cheek approach. Not sure what kind of kudos this writer was attempting to receive by telling this story. But if nothing else I am hoping parents will not allow their child to be bullied for some kind of empathy experiment….children who are bullied have lowered self esteem and higher rate of suicide. And for the one parent to say their child is being “challenged” for two months is a real disgrace and disservice for allowing this to be happening to their child for even two minutes yet along two months. I don’t understand the concept of empathizing with a child who is doing wrong and the child being threatened to do nothing but parrot “directives”that a five year old wouldn’t understand.

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      Sarah mentioned her daughter felt empowered and in this situation obviously understood and utilized the directives and examples provided to her under supervision. Of course, thank you for your comment! This is what I’d like to chat about… how people would have move forward at that deciding point.

      Reply
  32. Catherine Way
    January 15, 2013

    Perhaps there is a part of the story missing here – perhaps the teacher chose a child to pair with this bully that the teacher knew was resilient and had a supportive network of family and friends and therefore was able to be kind to a bully without suffering herself.

    Reply
  33. Inblue
    January 15, 2013

    When I was in 4th and 5th grade I was the biggest bully. I didn’t receive much attention from my newly divorced parents or my three older brothers. I picked on the smaller and quiet kids without many friends and found that other kids would join in with the teasing and laughing at them which I am now ashamed to admit .I had a feeling of being important and felt since these kids didnt have many friends so they were probably not liked anyway. Again starting in 5th grade I targeted the one kid who appeared weak and friendless. I got a lesson in humility after school the one day when HIS older brother was waiting for me…let’s just say he wasn’t asking me any directives and it was then I stopped. I learned a physics lesson that day that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Today I am a father myself to 4 boys and a police officer. Empathy is a great attribute but not to be given to a bully thus EMPOWERING him.

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      Did you also learn that day what it truly felt like to be on the other end of the equation? Why did you decide to become a police officer? I would love if you’d share that story too. Also, the discussion here has moved beyond teaching 5-year-old skills… as a police officer, at what point do you recommend parents go beyond involving the school and take the next step of involving law enforcement. I am sure your insight would continue to be appreciated.

      Reply
  34. wow
    January 15, 2013

    Would never let my child be used and abused like that. No thank you! I would never encourage a girl to stay in an abusive relationship because the other person needs their help. Please!

    Reply
  35. Kitsan
    January 15, 2013

    How about actually enacting some sort of punishment on the bullies? I was bullied all throughout school starting in kindergarten. A 5th grader on the bus targeted me, and i got off the bus in the mornings and afternoons just crying almost everyday. I was sent to the school counselor by my teacher. My parents talked to the bus driver and the principal, but no one did anything. It wasn’t until my dad (who is a very big guy) got on the bus (which was very against school rules) and told him “Brandon, you be nice to my girl, or else your father will be hearing from ME”
    The guy finally let me alone after that! These bullies need punishment for misbehaving, not sympathy! Those that turn out mentally disturbed are usually TARGETED by the bullies, not the other way around. Make the bullies responsible for their actions, don’t give them victims!!

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      Kitsan, how did your dad’s response change you? Did it help you feel empowered too later on as an adult? Great story.

      Reply
  36. LetsLassotheMoon
    January 15, 2013

    I finally had a chance to really read through some of the comments. Obviously this has struck a chord with many parents. There seems to be a strong focus on this is “what the teacher *should* have done.”

    I have a few questions for y’all to think about moving forward: Does a 5-year-old throwing a toy deem them disturbed? Do 5-year-old girls saying they hate or like one another mean they are a bully? These are very common traits in many random & active 5-year-olds I know. In a classroom where a teacher is pairing up students, why would a parent meeting be called to get an ok to pair up a well behaved child with one who has behavior that needs some fine tuning?

    When the teacher was notified by the parent of the bus comment, when safety and welfare became a concern, the the teacher ensured the parents became an intricate part of equation. If you haven’t already, please look around and read Sarah’s response in the comments.

    As I read this story again and the responses, I would also like to remind people this is two 5-year-olds in a monitored class environment. I am pretty sure we can all agree that this same course of action would not be taken with a 15-year-old. I say this because again, I’d like to focus on the larger topic at hand. Let’s Lasso the Moon is a blog generally read by parents of younger children.

    I would love if the conversation could move forward away from focusing on the teacher and move on to the larger topic at hand. This might vary from parent to parent… I see it as us teaching our kindergarteners how to live in the real world and work with people who are disagreeable. That is a life skill they will need. We need to give them verbal tools to succeed at this task. In this scenario a child and parent was empowered by empathy.

    Reply
  37. Momtwotwins
    January 15, 2013

    I have read the story and all the comments penned by other parents and have to say they are hitting many points head on. Don’t complain that suggestions are given to what the teacher should or could have done,after all they are with our children the whole time they are away from us during school. I don’t believe a child throwing a toy was ever called disturbed by any responders or anyone said anything about young girls saying they hate each other which all parents know is normal and kids will even tell their parents as much . I believe parents are responding to the story as presented…a 5 year frightened with a student who is throwing things and threatening to push her in front of a bus. I remember dealing with bullies and find they are fueled by other children joining in the bullying. Once the behavior is shown to have consequences then by all means friendship and forgiveness should be fostered toward the bully not before

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      I am not complaining, but hoping to gain something from this group of parents. I am hoping the comments can continue to offer suggestions, personal stories, insights, etc. I simply wanted to clarify that when the teacher paired the students the situation was an everyday kindergarten class. When the teacher was notified of the threat the parents became immediately involved. You are still welcome to disagree with how the teacher and parents moved forward after that discussion. That is what I hope to chat about here. Is empathy something that should be in the toolbox of a kindergartener? I’d also like to continue to hear other stories from parents and how their school/teacher dealt with the issue. Please keep the comments coming and the communication going!

      Reply
  38. Luvmykatie
    January 15, 2013

    I do not like when someone invites comments but when the comments don’t reflect the original story writer’s personal feelings…we are told to redirect and refocus our thoughts and comments. Please don’t spin the story now attempting to “rewrite” the story about now its about a child who threw a toy or two girls saying they hate each other…the facts were given the mother herself said the child was in her words positively frightened and threatened to be pushed in front of a bus. These are all serious facts and I think parents are returning with serious responses. I think the bully described in this story is beyond “disagreeable”. Helping children to get along and teaching them coping skills and inderstanding others have feelings are important. Five year olds have a deep sense of autonomy and that is a very good cause of not understanding ill actions towards others . The bully’s behavior needs to be addressed not the feelings of those being bullied.

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      Thanks for expressing your opinion as I am sure others share it, but haven’t taken he time to write it. I am simply trying to redirect the comments to be proactive, what should we parents do moving forward? This is a personal topic for each of us and I am open to disagreement. I would simply rather focus on how to help our children (now and with dealing with bullying in the future) vs pick apart the teacher. Perhaps for many people this is intertwined.

      What I am asking is how to we arm our children against bullying? In what ways can we provide them tools? Verbally, physically, emotionally? How do we go about teaching them a line has been crossed (like this bus comment)? How do we help them decide when to handle it themselves vs get an adult? I’d love if we as a group can brainstorm and give suggestions.

      Reply
  39. Familyofthree
    January 15, 2013

    When my daughter started kindergarten she was quiet and sweet then she was targeted by a loud and demanding child. My daughter became withdrawn and depressed and nothing was done by the school to help. I even called her parents to see if we can maybe get the girls together outside the school environment to interact on a play date. I also came up with the plan of my daughter trying to be overly nice to her and trying to play with her during recess. While the playground monitor wasn’t looking my daughter was pushed by this bully striking her head on the ground resulting in my daughter needing 4 stitches. Obviously trying to be kind and showing empathy in this case being nice and showing the bully you want peace and friendship empowered the bully to continue and even more forcefully. My antedote? Transferred my daughter to a private Catholic school where she thrived under their structured format and zero tolerance for bullying

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
  40. LetsLassotheMoon
    January 15, 2013

    Quick note: Sarah and I are personal and blogging friends. I feel as if I should also mention my daughters have had this wonderful teacher. My daughter had a situation, where she didn’t quite get along with another girl in class. My advice too was “stay away from her.” This school is very community focused, my daughter’s response was similar, “I can’t because I sit next to her during circle time.” I spoke to the teacher the next morning and then we both chatted with Rose about the situation. Her response to Rose was, “You always deserve to feel in control of your body and safe. If you need to move because she is being rough, then simply move and tell me why after.” I think something about being empowered to say “I don’t have to deal with you; it’s my choice.” was empowering because after that convo it didn’t really happen any longer.

    Is this one of the first simple steps that we take as parents against this situation teaching our preschoolers? Empathy and teaching they have the right to feel in control of their body?

    Also, I know at my daughter’s elementary school they have seminars on bullying and intervention. Has your child attended something like this too? How do we as parents change our support as children get older? At what point are some of the childish behaviors of a physical 5-year-old completely unacceptable?

    Reply
    • Maya Bisineer
      January 15, 2013

      Just yesterday, my 1st grader was really sad that another kid called her “the meanest person on earth”. It broke my heart. I told her to let the other girl know she hurt her feelings and encouraged to ask her why she felt that way. I told her that it is important to try to work it out but speak up at the same time. I am not sure if that is right or wrong, but I am curious to see how it works for her over the next few days.
      I also run a program called Project Cornerstone in my daughter’s class – it is run by the YMCA and they use picture books and stories to get across messages, give kids tools to deal with bullying and such. It is a great program – you should check it out.
      I think it is very important to give kids tools and strategies. Give them the confidence to hold their heads high and speak up. It is also very important to teach them that everyone counts – they should be taught empathy and they should take pride in helping others. It is a hard balance, but I have learned a lot of this via the Project Cornerstone program. Bullying can occur in so many ways. If my daughter rolled her eyes at a timid kid, I would call that a form of bullying. I don’t want her to ever do that. And if she is ever a victim to something like that, I would love for her to speak up.
      I however, learned most of this dealing with people in the corporate world i think :)

      Reply
      • Jeffkrieger
        January 16, 2013

        Why would you think that dealing with adults in the corporate world makes you more qualified in dealing with children? Furthermore I think a child did speak up…the one who told your daughter she was the meanest person on earth. Obviously your child did something mean and the other girl called her on it. So why should this hurt your child’s feelings? Tell her to examine what she did to warrant this girl saying this and mend her ways. No one likes a mean person. Great you are getting some info out there for the kids being bullied. In my child’s private school ..any child threatening another with physical and verbal abuse in any form is removed from the classroom and play ground until said child completely stops .. Works like a charm and kids have an adult councilor for any issues they may have

        Reply
        • LetsLassotheMoon
          January 16, 2013

          Jeff, please heed your own advice and use kind words. I don’t think Maya implied she is “more qualified”, but is merely sharing her perspective. Yes, her daughter likely did something to upset the other child. I admit, when I am snarky in an argument with my husband I don’t walk away feeling good. It is common for people to feel regret or hurt even if they’ve done something wrong. Again, we are also talking about a 1st grader.

          THIS is the discussion I continue to hope to promote here: what tools do we give our children to deal with these situations? Maya opens the door even further, how do we teach our child to step back and make a situation right after we’ve done something wrong?

          Again, as a parent I don’t have much power as to “how my school handles it.” I’ve never been able to afford to send my child to a private school. I don’t have much hope for changing our public school in a period of time quick enough to support my own kids. So I am asking you and the other people commenting… What tools do we as Modern Parents give our kids to get through all of this?

          Reply
          • TML42
            January 16, 2013

            I agree with this Jeff who seems to think the direct approach stopping bullies in their track is best. A lot of parents are not skirting around the issues and what someone wrote that bullied children suffer low self esteem issues and even suicide are startling truths. I don’t know why you think this person wrote “unkind” words,I didn’t see any. Actually it’s refreshing to hear a direct no nonsense approach to this serious wide spread dilemma. All this child empowerment has done nothing but allow children to view themselves as adult equals and diminish respect. Stop these hippy dippy approaches when it comes to handling bullies. Now if you are discussing empathy approaches for children to accept others who are handicapped,shy or different…I am all in. But not for a mean child who is terrifying another and need of therapy by an experienced adult.

          • Beautifullife
            January 16, 2013

            Thank you for the discussion to be directed to teach empathy to children towards different children! My child has an autistic condition marked by a lack of ability to socialize properly. As a result my child has difficulty making friends due to anxiety and may be viewed as antisocial or a loner. Even working with several therapists and my own education on how to best assist my child..his progress is slow. Often his teacher said how cruel other children can be and she, with my permission, has launched a classroom discussion to make the other children aware of his condition to foster understanding and caring. This took a lot of planning and thought but the children became much more accepting. Another child this year has started who suffers MS and I joined on with other parents along with this child’s to help inform the other children a basic understanding of his condition and safe play around his wheelchair.

      • LetsLassotheMoon
        January 16, 2013

        Maya, keep us updated on the story. Thank you for the YMCA recommendation. I will check it out. Perhaps today I will also check in with my girls’ school. I know they run a bullying program, but I don’t know the name of it. Has anyone else heard their kids talk about a bullying program/assembly at school?

        I worked at a bank for many years during college. On thing that was always pushed was that as a teller you smile, make eye contact and say “hello” to every single person who walked in the door, even if they weren’t at the counter. Strangely this was not at all a customer service move, it was a security requirement. Apparently in studies many people who rob banks feel isolated and alone. There are multiple recorded cases of felons mentioning they were going to originally rob one bank, but felt noticed as a person… so they moved on to a place where they were ignored. My only point is that, we often walk around our daily lives not noticing people. If we teach our kids that everyone counts, it might make a difference. Thought provoking, thanks!

        Reply
  41. Jeanine5
    January 15, 2013

    Perhaps there should be a disclaimer with this story. The school involved here with these bloggers is a Montessori school in which tuition on average costs $15,000-$20,000 a year per student. Maybe this approach dealing with children of the higher socio-economic class may be implemented there,but not in my son’s inner city public school where his kindergarten classroom is 32 children to 1 teacher. I often found many people who are in privileged situations tout their expertise on a variety of subjects in which they do no research of how their advise would be effective outside their confines and philosophies. If it was the expectations of these bloggers to have heart warming responses from the general public,they obviously were mistaken. Our public school over worked under paid teachers do not have the time or resources to try social experiments such as these for an obviously troubled child frightening another child.

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      There are public charter Montessori schools in many of our local communities. This is also a guest post by a parent telling a personal story, not a blogger “touting expertise.” The point was not to “get heart warming responses,” but to start an intelligent conversation with modern parents dealing with these issues. The goal is to work together to respectfully discuss the situation. I agree, our public schools overwork and under pay teachers. I again, am hoping to keep the conversation going:

      What I am asking is how to we arm our children against bullying? In what ways can we provide them tools? Verbally, physically, emotionally? How do we go about teaching them a line has been crossed ? How do we help them decide when to handle it themselves vs get an adult? I’d love if we as a group can brainstorm and give suggestions.

      Reply
  42. Allison McDonald
    January 15, 2013

    With the follow up from Sarah that wasn’t in her original post I couldn’t agree more with this model. My one issue was that the peer model ( Sarah’s daughter) didn’t have enough support, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 16, 2013

      Thank you for your comment Allison. It is always nice to have the perspective of a teacher.

      Reply
  43. Carrieizme
    January 15, 2013

    I was raised in a single parent family where the cost of that school alone exceeded my mother’s total yearly income. My teachers were really over extended and in no way could try to deal with a bully in this manner described with all this watchfulness and parental meetings. My mother worked two jobs and she had precious few hours between them to spend with us. She certainly didnt have time for the necessary multiple meetings at school mapping out a strategy to help a bully overcome their problems through the empathy peer approach. Funny ,though even attending a public school with alot of tough and tough individuals I probably never experienced the fear the little girl did as a 5 year old attending a coddled expensive one. Zero tolerance to bullies and allowing their nonsense

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 15, 2013

      There are free public charter Montessori schools in many of our local communities.

      Do you have children? If you are reading this, I assume you do… What I am asking is how to we arm *our children* against bullying?

      Right now bullying is not an issue I as a parent have to deal with, but I know as my girls get older that as part of life these type of everyday incidences will increase. I’d like to prep for that now. I’d like to prepare them *now* when they have a chance to practice those skills. I can’t do anything about our teachers or schools, but I can do something in my home. I can help my child learn.

      In what ways can we provide them tools? Verbally, physically, emotionally? How do we go about teaching them a line has been crossed ? How do we help them decide when to handle it themselves vs get an adult? You can disagree with this approach, but I’d love if we as a group can brainstorm and give suggestions vs. walk in circles.

      Reply
  44. Sherrymiles
    January 16, 2013

    I can honestly understand many of the parents feelings in regards to this approach to quell a bully. I also have young children in a city public school system and though a nice theory, definitely not able to put into practice. What I do know is that parents are concerned,worried and generally fed up with bully issues. There has been many publicized incidents involving bullies with even celebrities coming forward with their stories. And in view of the fact those who are being bullied are the victims…why is this about assisting the bully? Sure these kids need help to control their behavior but by an adult. I like the idea that the bully is shown no attention or encouragement by the other children so he or she sees this is wrong and it is explained by the teacher it is not allowed to hurt anyone by actions or words. Based on the time out principle

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 16, 2013

      Sherry, thanks for sharing your comments. I think many people share your perspective, “Why is this about assisting the bully?” Every coin has two sides, this story is not only about assisting the bully, but empowering the other child as well… that is the part I am most curious about.

      As a parent, I am not able to change our school system, the world around us, etc. However, I do have the capability to give my child tools to deal with life. I’d love to keep the comments rolling. How do we as Modern Parents help our kids through all of this? I can make a difference *at home*. So what can we collectively as a group share with one another to empower our children against bullies, or even just everyday disagreeable people? Sarah suggests empathy empowered her daughter and helped the bully as well. Many people who have commented do not feel empathy is a viable solution. What other tools can we provide our kids? Let’s chat!

      Reply
  45. Sevenbus
    January 16, 2013

    Well I feel sorry for the little 5yr old who was placed in this frightening situation. Obviously this child didnt want this “job” or she would have been happy and told her mother about this arrangement from the start. Instead the child expressed fear and when the mother got to speak to the teacher only to be informed then of this peer arrangement . By this time the teacher was boasting how this bully has made progress and is using her voice now. So the poor child being bullied had to endure this bully’s “physical” stage without her mother’s knowledge or support . Maybe this child’s mother feels that her child is empowered based on the fact that the bully seems nicer. But I believe these are the mother’s words…the bullied child’s feeling? Besides remembering fear and getting pushed into a “job” which any child would be complacent to please their humbled mother all hung ho …will probably have some kind of mental scar over it. The bully? Hopefully received real therapy and not just the “empathy”from another 5 year old.

    Reply
    • Esther
      January 16, 2013

      I guess this does make sense that the little girl wasn’t happy assisting this other girl bullying her as a job. I remember my children coming home from school happy and excited when assigned a special duty the teacher have them. My little girl was elated to be entrusted to help another who broke her leg to assist her to her classes and using the elevator to get to the higher floors. Also when my son was in charge of helping the kids learn their lines in a kindergarten play. They couldn’t wait until they came home and told me about their important responsibility. If this mom only became aware of this assignment for her daughter only after a period of time and not by her happy excited child beforehand then this is not right ! Yet to know she was threatened by this child and said she was frightened?! My goodness yes I also hope this troubled child did receive therapy by an adult. And

      Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 16, 2013

      Thank you for expressing your concern. There are a lot of comments listed, but take a moment to scroll through and find Sarah’s lengthy comment. She clarifies many questions.

      Please remember we are discussing kindergarteners. The behavior Sarah coins in her assumption that the child was a bully are everyday 5-year-old behaviors (throwing toys, being physical, learning to use words). The situation however, definitely changed with the bus comment. After further instruction and clarification from the teacher she observed that it empowered her daughter, that it gave her skills to deal with situations like this in the future. I know Sarah and like many of us here, she is a Mama Bear. I trust her ability to decipher her daughter’s feelings. If you knew her personally I strongly feel you would too, but alas this is just a short blog post on the web.

      Again, as a parent, I am not able to change how the teacher responded, our school system, the world around us, etc. However, I do have the capability to give my child tools to deal with life. I’d love to keep the comments rolling.
      Obviously, you disagree that empathy is a strong tool for our children in battling potentially bullying. How do we as Modern Parents help our kids through all of this? I can make a difference *at home*. So what can we collectively as a group share with one another to empower our children against bullies, or even just everyday disagreeable people? Many people who have commented do not feel empathy is a viable solution. What other tools can we provide our kids? Let’s chat!

      Reply
  46. LetsLassotheMoon
    January 16, 2013

    Saw this in a Love & Logic eNewsletter today and had to share, “Pausing to connect with empathy takes the anger and resistance out of many situations, and helps us avoid the angry words which damage relationships. Empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Empathy leads to the social skills and personal relationships which make our lives rich and beautiful, and it is something we can help our children learn.”

    Reply
  47. Joanu
    January 16, 2013

    I read the comment by beautiful life and really wish she had written her story instead for all to comment. What a wonderful idea to explain to the other children what others are dealing with and the boy in the wheelchair. It was fantastic to hear that the children were given the information and then were more accepting and empathetic. I believe parents do believe in teaching empathy but were turned off with this particular story by the way it was deployed and whom it was directed. If a physically or mentally challenged child is in school I would love to see parents and teachers prepare the class by education and encouragement of questions . In one classroom the students were prepared for a sight impaired student who was required to wear rather large and awkward glasses after information was given and any questions answered…this child was well received with other children actually wanting to sit next to this student

    Reply
    • LetsLassotheMoon
      January 18, 2013

      Agreed. Thank you for saying it kindly.

      Reply
  48. Mariah
    January 16, 2013

    Joan I would like to thank you for your post!! This is teaching anti bullying before it starts. Teaching and explaining a difference another child may have and having it understood and accepted. What other children may point at and unfortunately laugh or make fun of is explained and the children actually embrace it. Preparedness will promote awareness and allow more empathy. I do believe in the peer pairing but only if the child enthusiacally and willingly accepts the role and is properly prepared along with the parents before it is put into use. And this arrangement would immediately be terminated if the role child feels threatened in any way whatsoever.

    Reply
  49. Daisyseeker80
    January 18, 2013

    Oh. My. Gosh. I am crying. What a powerful story. Thank you.

    Reply
  50. Penny
    January 27, 2013

    Sarah, that was an inspiring and opinion changing post. As a parent, I would have done a similar thing to you. When I finally go in to a classroom, I want to be a teacher like that!

    Reply
  51. ERZSICAKES
    February 9, 2013

    There are definitely children in my son’s grades (Kindy through grade 4) whom he has recognized (me too) since those days in Kindy class, who have one issue or another. Some on these kids have not changed a bit, and they are still viewed to stay back from and not be involved with because it just means trouble for everyone. There are children whom my son is noticing who act out and such, and I can clearly explain to him that he need not be the problem, or the bystander, he is showing empathy that he sees that they struggle, but I encourage him to act on it too. It is tough though, for kids to reach out if they themselves are not high on self-esteem, but every step will help.

    Reply
  52. the Monko
    March 3, 2013

    That is a great post, and I think its a great approach. But I wish the teacher had inform you as the parent that your daughter was being used in this way. Then you would have been able to offer appropriate support to her “special role”. It must have been confusing for your daughter to be told by a parent to stay away from the child when the teacher was actively encouraging a relationship. Parents can play a useful support role when they are included in this type of approach.
    I’m sharing your post in the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board

    Reply
  53. olyazzoofxx
    December 27, 2013

    Recently I was extremely low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – j6ef

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