Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cultivating a Sense of Belonging to Help Combat Bullying

By: Kristan Kostur, 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. If you Google “bullying prevention” you’ll get more than 1,000,000 hits addressing this issue. You’ll find everything from eye-popping statistics to what some say are questionable statistics, and posts from those who believe this is simply sensationalism to heart-wrenching accounts of children who felt the only way out was to take their own lives.

We are often asked at Proudtree if our products are for anti-bullying. While they can be used with this intention, our focus is on helping to empower children with a sense of purpose and value—to help them build a strong principled foundation from which they can grow with respect for themselves and others. Our hope is to reach the child before circumstances arise that cause him or her to bully others, and to equip those being bullied with a sense of personal competence, resiliency, and control over their world so they have the confidence to transform it.

We begin with what we believe to be one of the most important aspects in a child’s healthy development—belonging. A sense of belonging—feeling valued, connected to others, and a part of something greater—gives children the emotional strength to overcome challenges and difficulties that emerge in their daily experiences.

The most important place for your child to feel that he or she belongs is at home. The feeling of belonging begins when you establish an emotional connection with your child, making sure he or she feels valued, safe, and loved. When children feel like they belong, they are more likely to perform better in school, make friends, and overcome roadblocks.
Here are some ideas you can use at home to support your child’s sense of belonging:

Let’s Read! - Storybooks are wonderful tools to use with children to help them understand their feelings. As your child watches and listens to the storybook, he or she will make a connection to the characters who share many of the same concerns and problems. This helps your child feel included instead of alone, and helps to develop a sense of belonging. As you read the story, ask questions such as:
  • What is your favorite part of the story and why?
  • What do you think the character is feeling?
  • Have you ever felt that way?
  • What does that feel like?
You can also have your child describe the characters—the color of their hair, for example, what they like to wear or things they like to do. Explain that meeting characters in a book can be like making new friends. Then ask which character your child would most like to have as a friend and why.

Family Ties - Support your child’s need to belong at home by trying some of these tips:
  • Give your child uninterrupted, one-on-one playful time with you
  • Take a genuine interest in what’s important to your child and support those desires
  • Smile when your child enters the room
  • Express your love freely and show plenty of affection
  • Include your child in family matters and decision making
  • Plan a family party with your child and include family traditions such as special foods, games, or stories
Just how important is it for children to cultivate a sense of belonging? How big of a role can it actually play when a child is being bullied? How likely is it for a child with loving and secure connections to engage in acts of bullying? Consider the invaluable words of author and research professor, Dr. BrenĂ© Brown: “We’re hardwired for connection—it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering.”

What are some of the ways you support your child’s sense of belonging?

About the Author: Kristan Kostur is co-founder of Proudtree Empowered Learning, an educational company dedicated to developing unique materials and programs to help instill in children a sense of personal competence and internal worth—attributes which help them learn to expect success for themselves in school and beyond. To learn more about Proudtree Empowered Learning visit http://www.proudtree.com.

37 comments :

  1. Books are a fantastic tool and there are so many great ones out there now. I love all of your awesome tips.

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  2. I think reading and talking about the issues is a great way to get kids to open up. Thanks for your tips, my kids are grown and we didn't have these problems but I worry the grand kids might.

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    1. The problem seems to be in the spotlight more in today's world as compared to years ago but I believe everyone can relate.

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  3. I love the idea of using storybooks to teach and make children aware of bullying. I'm glad people are making an effort to stop it too. It's definitely something that could help growing kids a lot.

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    1. Books are great for teaching so many lessons.

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  4. This is really great. If children really feel connected and as if they belong, maybe bullying wouldn't be such a problem. I totally agree that it starts at home. We love to read, and reading/teaching belonging and about bullying is very helpful.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Glad that books are a part of your lives.

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  5. Hi, Kristan

    This is a really good article to face the tissue of bullying. Yes it is important to develop their sense of belong. I may add 2 more points that we can do in home in order to reduce problem of bullying. The word "respect" must be planted in their hearts so that they know how to respect himself and more importantly others. Second one is the "self esteem" or "self worth" which once he knows, he does not need to use bullying to build his Identity.
    I believe bullying is a big issue and every individual case is different, we need to handle each case with care and deep observation.
    - Stella Chiu

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    1. Stella, thanks for adding these tips. You are spot on!

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  6. Hi Kristan, It's a nice post. I have seen the statistics of kids taking their lives in hostel due to bullying. One of my friend also committed suicide because she had no strength to raise her voice at the time of ragging. Awareness is very important and that too during childhood. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The statistics are so sad. And I am very sorry about your friend.

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  7. This is gonna be fun, such a wonderful idea, kids loves reading them a book.

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  8. I think it is so important for children (and grown ups too) to find a place where they fit in. I wish schools would teach things like self worth, boundaries and of course really work on the bullying problem.

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    1. Great ideas. Growing up is hard enough. Maybe just some general lessons would be a good idea in schools.

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  9. This is a great post, and very encouraging! Bullying is so sad and has been so public lately. Makes me really sad!

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    1. Thank you and yes, it is really sad that our society has to deal with this.

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  10. Having a strong family support system can really shape an individual for the better and strengthen their confidence. Talking about this issue is really helpful.

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    1. You're so right! Communication is key!

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  11. There are so many ways but, it is something that is so important. Keeping an open relationship is imperative.

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  12. I teach a lot through books because my daughter loves to read. Your tips are great- thank you for sharing.

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    1. Reading can be so engaging for young ones!

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  13. It's so important to teach our children about being self confident about who they are. The younger we instill that in them the more confident they will be.

    These are great suggestions you shared as ways we can do that. I need to get to the bookstore and look for books for my 4 year old grandson. He loves books anyway so it will be great. :)

    Great post!

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    1. It is amazing the topics that are brought up in children's books. Happy shopping!

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  14. What a great idea for my kids. I always want for them reading books for their free time.

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  15. Good article indeed! This is a nice way to teach. My kids loves reading. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome! Glad you know how they learn :)

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  16. These are very helpful tips. I am thankful that I never had this problem with my kids. I worry about my twin granddaughter, though.

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  17. I think a sense of belonging really does help to combat bullying. People are more likely to stand up to a bully if they see that other people stand behind them.

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  18. All vhildren need to feel important and belong. This is a great article.

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  19. These are great tips! It's so important to make sure kids are emotionally connected and feel like they belong in the family, so they have a foundation to protect against bullying.

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  20. Books have always been such a huge help for us in some many things. I pray that I can raise my children to understand why it's so important not to bully.

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  21. Great post! Books are always a good tool to teach anything :)

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  22. This is such a great post! Books always seem to be our go-to when we need help teaching our children something.

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