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Giving Back

(A creative solution to help change a 9-year old bully.)

by Jennifer Christiansen

“Consequences” are the teacher’s automatic response to misbehavior. What can be done about a child whose search for power isn’t satisfied by traditional consequences? Can imposing consequences squelch the need for the power that is often manifested in bullying?  Where can a teacher step in to transform a child from bully to builder? One place to start is reflection. The practice of thoughtfulness is one way to teach alternatives to an intelligent child who makes poor choices in relationships.


A 3rd grade student spent several recess periods writing a book. Through time and reflection he was able to see alternatives. He spent valuable time illustrating his pages.  Later, he visited classrooms where he read his work to an audience. As the author, he took ownership of his deeds. Making his discoveries public was a one way to make restitution for stealing the dignity of another. Giving and taking are simple concepts to adults. To children they must be explicitly taught. Here is an example of transforming the power to hurt into the power to teach.


A Book of Kindness

I Could Have… But Instead


By G. Coupal

Age 9


Once, my class was walking upstairs from art.

I could have put Travis in a head lock, but instead I walked beside him.


Another time, Ezra made strange moves during writing.

I could have called him a name, but instead I helped him.


One day I mocked Travis when he was out of control.

I could have made a face but instead I looked away.


Last week I got mad that I didn’t get 100%.

I could have flipped a chair but instead I sat quietly.


This week Travis was whining about his warts.

I could have punched him in the face, but instead I did not listen.


Another time, someone got in my way.

I could have pushed Alex, but instead I walked beside him.



In the future, when my teacher gives directions,

I might be tempted to mock her out, but instead I will not.



Looking ahead, I might be tempted to tell Travis not to bite his warts in a mean way,

But instead I will use a nice voice.


Now I know to be nice.

I learned that fighting is bad.


This is what I will tell my friends…

I will be the better person.


This is what I will tell my future children.

Do not fight. It is bad.


This is my message of kindness to the world.

Always be the better person.


The end. 


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