By: Kristan Kostur,
Co-Founder of Proudtree Empowered Learning
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.
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?
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
What are some of the ways you support your child’s sense of belonging?