I have a great group of kids this year so when the b word (bully) came up at conferences I was surprised. After thinking about the issues, I wondered if perhaps some of the stronger personalities were being a little overbearing and being perceived as bullies. I decided to read The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill and have a discussion. As I listened to the discussion about problems on our playground, I became more sure that no one was intentionally bullying anyone, but there was definitely a problem with some of the kids being bossy. I had the kids fill out a paper marking recess queen/king or respectful friend behavior at recess (which you can download by clicking here).
We then talked about the behaviors on the sheet and what kind of things recess queens and kinds do. Finally, I asked them to be honest and reflect on their own recess queen and king behavior on the lines at the bottom of the sheet. The responses I got were very honest. I loved the one that said she would really like to be a recess queen but keeps her “inner queen” under control. Too funny! I then suggested that we come up with a signal or phrase to let our friends know when they are acting like a queen or king. The kids brainstormed several different ideas. I would like to tell you the kids decided on “take off the crown” or “step off the throne” which were my favorites, but we’re dealing with third graders and they voted for “get off the stage.” So now everyone is equipped with a way to stand up for themselves and let those with strong personalities know they are trying to take control and be in charge.
I would love to know how you handle issues like this or how you help kids stand up for themselves. Leave a comment and let me know!