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Inculcate gratitude and empathy to tackle bullying

World Suicide Prevention Day

Sana Kapur

 

 

 

-Sana Kapur 

School Counsellor of Venkateshwar International School

A simple letter written with love and affection could do wonders to take the ‘big bully’ head on

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour displayed amongst school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. This behaviour emitted once, is either repeated or has the potential to be repeated over a period of time. Gratitude and empathy can change bullying tactics and behaviours in potential or existing bullies.

In school based bullying, this behaviour is often recorded to be an act of ‘lashing out’ or an attempt by the bully to establish a position of power over the victim, and though the bullying can vary in impact and potential, both the bully and victim may have serious, lasting problems or trauma.

Bullying can be positively addressed through a range of school based measures and strategies which enable the students to act effectively in dealing with or witnessing bullying or potential bullying behaviour.

Practicing a routine of gratitude and empathy can be vital to study and analyse student’s disciplinary concerns, often untapped in the school condition. Let’s take for example, every language, including its various dialects, on the planet has a word, sentiment, method of saying ‘thank you’ based on the grounds that gratitude is a characteristic quality that dwells inside every person, and is activated and communicates spontaneously in a wide range of context. It is basically the acknowledgment of the unearned increments of significant worth as far as one can experience – the affirmation of the positive things that come our way that we didn’t effectively work towards or request. Simply, being grateful can be utilised to apologise, make amends or help take care of different issues individuals may confront.

The way to implement this simple and general state of appreciation and gratitude can be spread amongst the school students by practicing gratitude writing. Create a task where the children are assigned to write a gratitude letter for their friends/parents/cousins and are encouraged to give it in person. Firstly, they should think of someone who has helped them, yet who they feel they have not thanked properly. Next, the students should be asked to reflect on the benefits they received from this gesture, and to write a letter expressing their gratitude for all they have done. And finally, these students should give the gratitude letter personally, and spend some time with this person discussing the reason behind writing this letter.

Expressing gratitude not only helps them appreciate what they received in life, it also helps to feel that they have given something back to the people who helped them. Giving the letter of thanks washes away any leftover guilt we might feel for not having thanked this person previously. It fosters a genuine, heartfelt interaction that can assist to strengthen any existing social relationship.

Building empathy on the other hand can take longer and has to be fostered by holding group discussions on case studies where students analyse the concerns of the individual and give possible solutions for the same. The students can also role play in class where the students are given a problem and they can depict the same with a probable solution through dramatisation of this situation.

It is important to keep in the centre that empathy is the experience of understanding someone else’s cognitions, emotions, and condition from their perspective, instead of from your own. It is about how we understand the other individual. It is a vital component of effective communication.

Apart from the individual counselling, the students should be taught resilience and assertiveness skills. In line with empathy, the children should be introduced to an activity called “Perspective Taking “wherein students will share a concern that they are going through in their life, especially considering that they must agree to sharing this concern, and the other peers can participate to solve this problem. When the students express their concerns, the other kids must try to understand their friends’ situation and help them with a probable solution. When an activity like this is introduced, the positive and empathetic environment can even lead to other students sharing their similar stories. This exercise can help the students understand and relate to each other and create an atmosphere of hope. The bullies are often themselves victims of bullying behaviour at home/school. Thus, the positive intervention can reduce the conflicting behaviour and enhance patience and strong social bonds amongst students.

These practices can be introduced in the life skills/substitute periods to allow the students to express themselves and focus on their strengths. Organising a ‘parent day’ in the school where parents are made aware of their wards’ strong points will help the school team sort assistance for parents to develop good habits in their child. The teachers can also utilise the class teacher period for a small discussion to know about good health and its maintenance, and status of the various students.

It is of extreme importance to understand that we must not punish the child; rather we should make the child understand the consequences of their behaviour on others. Appreciating the students in front of others will boost their confidence and will help them be a role model for their peers. Using positive interventions like writing a gratitude letter, writing 3 good things daily, perspective talking exercise, role play of various problems will give space to the children to express their feelings. Developing positive attitude towards each other will take time and can dwell on our patience level with students. Teachers must be patient to achieve the positive outlook change in their students through the above mentioned positive interventions.

It is important to understand that we must not punish the child; rather we should make the child understand the consequences of their behaviour on others

Using positive interventions like writing a gratitude letter will go a long way

Organising a ‘parent day’ in the school where parents are made aware of their wards’ strong points will help the school team sort assistance for parents to develop good habits in their child

The bullies are often themselves victims of bullying behaviour at home/school.

Practicing a routine of gratitude and empathy can be vital to study and analyse student’s disciplinary concerns, often untapped in the school condition

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