A big part of early elementary education is, or should be, learning to be social beings and gaining pro-social skills:
-how to get along with others, both friends and non friends
-how to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings clearly
-working on listening to others and respecting different ideas
-learning to work through disappointments, sadness, frustrations
-working with others for a common goal
-negotiating and compromising
The list goes on and on...
We don't often break down the social skills we use everyday, but when we actually start thinking of all the skills one needs to be successful in life, it can seem overwhelming. Development of these skills can in fact be difficult, but it is not an unsurmountable task. Children just need tools and support, and they will develop the foundational skills they need, which will lead to success working with others.
How can adults help children on this journey?
We need to give them confidence, encouragement, and resilience by letting them know that they have the abilities to handle situations and talk with them about strategies they can use to face challenges.
This week at school, our class started to tackle the topic of teasing.Teasing is a normal part of our culture, but as Merriam-Webster's definition makes clear, teasing can have very different effects:
to laugh at and criticize (someone) in a way that is either friendly and playful or cruel and unkind
During our discussions on teasing, we talked about how, even when teasing starts out as fun, it can turn annoying. The thing we all have to work on is listening to each other. When someone tells us something we do is annoying them, we need to show consideration and stop the behavior or move away from them to do it.
Of course, discussing something, like teasing, does not make it disappear. Actually, the reverse is often true. In this case, the discussions actually heightened everyones awareness of teasing and increased complaints on the subject. Hopefully, with time the balance will shift and unkind teasing, will decrease across the board.