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Put Verbal Bullying in a Trashcan for Good

As a first grade instructor, I get my fair share of tattles from students about someone calling them stupid, ugly or a wimp, etc. Impatient with tattling, I frequently asked the complaining student if they felt they fit that description. Invariably, their eyes would look at me as if to say, “Don’t you know?” then immediately look as if to say, “Well, no! Of course not!”

An article about Irene Van der Zande, the Founder of Kidpower stirred my thinking up. I got thinking that no child wants to think of his- or herself as stupid, ugly or a wimp. And if they thought in the slightest that they were, they were not going to admit it to me with my unsympathetic approach.

Ms. Van der Zande recommends that students throw those hurtful words in an imaginary trashcan. If teachers can deliberately teach their students that hurtful words are dirty and belong in a trashcan, not in our hearts and minds, then students can esteem themselves rather quickly and get on with their day. A student inclined to bully would think twice before issuing his hateful message if he or she knew it was not going to be taken seriously.

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