When I work with children, each child decorates a box around the theme: “What is my talent?” I also have them write down their skills on pieces of paper to put in the box. That way, they take home a tangible reminder of the talents and hobbies they have. Some write about their love of playing guitar or dancing. Others write about being good at chess or sports.
I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting of a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis is a great book to pair with this activity for children ages 4-8.
The more a child knows their worth, the less they will be bothered by those who bully them. After all, why listen to a bully when you know what they say is not true?
Strong self-esteem, hobbies, and talents help children relax and feel confident during times they are bullied. Making these boxes with classmates also helps children to have a shared joyful experience together, which supports a safe social environment.
If you are interested in bringing the Respect Program to your community, please let me know. I have brought the program to schools, after-school programs, summer camps, and houses of worship. In addition to children’s lessons, I also offer anti-bullying workshops for adults where I share various research-based strategies and an overview of the impact bullying has on children.
A child in the Respect Program decorates a box and includes a note that says “I’m good at piano.”
How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them (Dino Tales: Life Guides for Families) By Laurie Krasny Brown, with pictures by Marc Brown, is a great book for ages 4 – 8 years old about how to build friendship skills. I highly recommend it for ideas not only on how to get a friend (asking someone to play, for example), but also because it talks about what a healthy friendship is. In the book she writes, “Anyone who is nice to you and likes to play with you can become a friend.”
When I talk with children about developing health friendships, one activity I enjoy sharing with them is to ask them to create a symbol or word that shows what friendship means to them. This is one example a child in the Respect Program created:
I highly recommend Mem Fox’s book Whoever You Are (for children ages 4-8) and Walt Whitman’s volume of the Poetry for Young People Series (ages 9 – 12) to spark conversations around diversity.
Once we read one of these, or other books on diversity, children in The Respect Program create diversity sculptures. I provide children standard colors in model magic clay as well as four different colors of clay for skin tones. It is amazing to see what the children create. Here is a favorite if mine from a past program. I love how the child combined the red and white colors in the two figures outstretched arms.
What are other ways to start discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion with the children in your life?