Is it Pink Shirt Day where you live? Have you heard of it? Seven years ago, 2 boys got a group of friends to all wear pink shirts in support of another classmate who was teased and bullied about wearing a pink shirt. When dozens and dozens of kids showed up all wearing pink shirts, the message was powerful and the bullying stopped. Since then, the idea has spread across North American and beyond. It has become a day to talk about how bullying can affect kids and what we can do. In the words of these kids at Capilano, it’s time to “Be A Friend.”
Just in case we think preschoolers are too young, it turns out that children only 1-2 years old will attempt to help others. (sciencemag.org, July 23, 2007) Even chimpanzees have an understanding of a situation that is unfair. Social skills are such a critical part of children’s reality. At school, children will be in rooms of 20 or more classmates with 1, perhaps 2 adults. Kids need to know basic skills for getting along with others, safe boundaries, and how to ask for help when needed. That’s a lot to expect of such young, vulnerable children and they will need our support and time to practice.
On a blog from Tree Frog Daycare, some of the messages for us to share with young children are:
- “be kind
- take care of each other,
- your voice is important,
- if something is bothering you use your words and
- tell someone so we can help you.”
These are great messages for all of us. And for any day, not just Pink Shirt Day. Talk with your child today about being a buddy, not a bully. Read a book together. Tell a story with 2 stuffies or puppets that have a problem and need to work out a solution. Wear something pink and talk about why it’s important. Is this a concern for you and your child?