We hear a lot about bullying at school and what everyone should and shouldn’t do about it. My big kids come home from school talking about the strategies their school uses to keep all the students feeling safe and happy, and I am pleased that not only does our school talk about this stuff with the kids, but that my kids come home and talk about it with me.
Bu it’s not just being bullied that can make a kid’s day hard. It can be the little things, like a bit of teasing, an argument with a friend, or even just having no one to play with…
Sometimes those little things can feel like big things, and make our kids miserable.
We talk about these scenarios every now and then. I try and give my kids strategies to help them be more resilient, more confident, to have skills to help themselves through the tough times. But I also want my kids to think about how they could help others who are feeling down.
I know it is not always easy to reach out or step up in a difficult situation. It is hard for adults, and even harder for kids who are still learning how to negotiate the social world, think ahead, and figure out possible consequences for their actions. I don’t tell my kids they should jump into a situation they are not comfortable with or that they have to stand up for others, but I don’t want to just walk past and pretend like it is not happening.
More than anything I want my kids to notice.
I want them to see when someone else is having a tough time, I want them to think about how they would feel in that situation and I want them to think about what they could do to make a difference. Even if they aren’t confident to do anything right then, even if they only think of what they could have done afterwards, just the fact that they are thinking about others is a step in the right direction.
And so I tell them – “Just say ‘Hi.'”
If you know someone who is being bullied, just smile when you see them and say ‘hi’.
If you see someone who is sad just take a moment to go over and say ‘hi’.
If you see someone who is alone in the playground, just say ‘hi.’
Saying hi may not change much, but it will let the other person know they are not alone, they are not invisible, and that someone cares enough to say hello.
It might also be the beginning of something else. Perhaps after saying hi you feel brave enough to ask that person to play. Perhaps not today, but maybe tomorrow, or the next day.
Perhaps if you say hi to someone who seems sad today, one day when you feel sad, that someone will say hi to you and make you feel a little less alone.
It’s not rocket science and it is certainly not the answer to all our problems, but I can’t help but think if we all, kids and adults, just noticed when others are doing it tough and made an effort to simply smile and say “hi”…. who knows where that could lead?