Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: The New School Year: Starting with a Clean Slate

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The New School Year: Starting with a Clean Slate

By Jane Balvanz

Last week we had our school’s ice cream social and meet the teacher night. There was such excitement as students raced around to find out whether they got the “right” teacher and if their friends were in their class.

Kindergarteners marched in with their parents, behind them if they were wary and ahead if they were excited. I like to watch this rite of passage. The kindergarteners start school with clean slates. No one really knows them. These students basically are happy little people, and as a teacher friend of mine once said, “They smell like milk!” They love school, the teacher, the kids, the crayons, and everything in the whole wide world. They are curious little sponges absorbing everything they can.

I like that they start the school year with a clean slate. I wish that for all students of all ages. We have memories, however, which can either be friend or foe. On the friend side, they us let us recall pleasant experiences or caution us to be careful in certain situations. On the foe side, they hold onto negative experiences without factoring in changes as time passes. It’s the foe side that keeps us stuck, doesn’t allow us to clean our slate. and refuses to let others clean theirs.

If your daughter was involved in a relational aggression incident in school last year – be it as bully, target, or bystander – help her start the new school year with a clean slate. We’ve provided three conversation starters you may want to use with your daughter for her unique situation(s).

1.If you were a bully, remember that everyone makes mistakes. If you have apologized, made amends, and changed your ways, go back to school with your head held high. Other girls may need time to trust you. Continue to treat others the way you want to be treated. You will attract old or new friends this way. What do you feel about this?
2.If you were a bystander who backed a bully or didn’t help the target, learn from your mistakes. If you learned that it’s not OK to support a bully or that you should help a target when you safely can, celebrate! Plan to be a Positive Active Bystander™, a bystander that helps instead of hurts. When you can do this, it shows just how much courage you have. That’s something you can be proud of! Since everyone is a bystander at some time, what ideas can you think of to help yourself become a Positive Active Bystander?
3.If you were a target, you may have many different feelings. Sometimes targets feel ashamed, like they are weak or that it’s their fault they were bullied. Remember that no one can make someone bully another person. The bully makes the choice. You are not responsible for others’ choices. If you have learned to stick up for yourself or ask for help when needed, you are one wise girl. What advice do you have for other girls who may become a target of bullying?
Best wishes for a great school year!

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© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com