It’s that time of year again when we will begin to think about and get ready for the new school year. The summer went fast and soon school open house will be here.
Our thoughts and actions will turn to getting a strong start on the school year. We will buy new pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks and clothes. As part of our preparations for this year, we are excited about and anticipate that this year will be better than last year: better grades, new friends and, of course, learning new things. Generally, the start of the school year brings hope, excitement, anticipation and big plans for success in all areas of school.
For some students, hope and excitement for the start of the school is tempered by a mix of fear and anxiety. These are the students who were picked on, made fun of, ignored, and/or belittled by their peers — they were bullied. Maybe they didn’t have “the right look,” or they were too shy, or they came from outside of the local area, or they didn’t wear “the right clothes,” or they presented themselves differently. These students, and all students, have the same needs: to feel welcomed and to feel a part of the school. All students have the right to feel respected, comfortable and valued as a member of school and society.
Discussions about bullying are prevalent and this year there is new legislation defining bullying: verbal-, physical-, and cyber-bullying. At the local, state and national levels, there is much discussion about how to stop bullying. What if there was too much emphasis on bullying? Why not suggest we take another approach: the words of an old song that has been sung by many over many years seems to carry the answer. One may recognize it from the children’s story “The Jungle Book.”
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene
If we take deliberate actions with our kids and talk about how they have the power to make a positive impact in a very real way at school, we may see a difference. So, along with buying school supplies, new shoes, and clothes, make this conversation part of your preparation for the new school year. When your student comes home after school, ask, “What did you do today to help another student feel a part of the school?” Instead of focusing on “bullying,” let’s teach our students to start “HERO”ing (helping empower and respect others.) Let’s not talk about who bullied; let’s talk about who “HERO”ed, how HEROing makes you feel, and what it did for the other person. Let’s recognize and celebrate those young people who engage in random acts of “HERO”ing.
This way we can ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE AND ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE.
For more information on how your school is addressing the issue of bullying, contact your principal, counselor or school resource officer.
Visit www.heroscoalition.org for more information on bullying, drug and alcohol prevention, and other resources on how to help your children make good choices.
Promoting the Power of the Positive is a monthly column by the Waconia HEROs Coalition. This month’s column was written by Christine Dondlinger, a parent and pastor representing the coalition’s Faith Sector.