How can we promote a culture of kindness?
More than 16,000 young people are absent from school because of bullying; 30% of those have gone on to self-harm as a result of bullying and 10% have attempted to commit suicide as a result of bullying.
Bullying, whether staff like to admit it or not, is present in most schools. It is something that is complex and needs to be tackled in many ways.
7 Ways To “Kill it with kindness and respect”
One of the ways we can combat bullying is to promote a culture of kindness. What does this look like?
1. Model the behaviour at the top
You’re busy and you are stressed but if you don’t do it neither will the pupils. The saying “children see, children do” fits in well here so ensure your staff say thank you to pupils. Ensure they hold the door open and they are being kind to each other.
2. Add it to your behaviour policy
Add rewards and sanctions to your behaviour policy as a separate feature. Some schools use plus and minus points for being kind and respectful and sanctions for bad conduct. This indicates to pupils that it’s not just work and bad behaviour that is noticed but so is good behaviour.
3. Get sharing
Share good behaviour. There is a game for adults called Sneaky Cards where people are challenged with many things but some focus on doing kind and respectful actions. Make some of these for your school. Have a QR code on them that links to a Padlet where pupils (and staff) can share their ideas. Congratulate the person who performs the most, maybe reward them with a Friday hot chocolate with the headteacher or share it in the newsletter.
4. Make a club of it
Come up with whole school ideas to promote kindness and respect in a Random Act of Kindness lunch club. This keeps the focus throughout the year, can take the load off teachers and allow pupils to be the instigators of ideas. They may surprise you and come up with something really unique.
5. Make a week of it
Create a kindness and respect week, or use a kindness advent calendar at Christmas or Lent. There are many examples of these online to download and take the focus off wanting something to actually doing something. Around Lent the 40 acts website is a great source of ideas that everyone can get involved in.
6. Kindness ambassadors
Get the pupils involved in thinking about kindness and ask them to be on the look out for good examples and share good actions. You could have a wall covered in paper that they could write their ideas on or so that pupils can celebrate people who have been kind or helped them. This focus and celebration of the good may stop the negative behaviour of others.
7. Promote empathy
Pupils are less likely to bully if they know how it makes someone else feel a lack of kindness and respect. Make emotional literacy and restorative justice have a place in your school. Don’t just pay it lip service but discuss how a lack of respect and kindness makes pupils feel. Add a section to your PSHE lessons to tackle this and discuss what bullying is and link to problem issues such as cyber bullying and “banter”.
A culture of kindness and respect needs to be set up where bullying is at the forefront of the agenda.