The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) are the official organisers of Anti-Bullying Week, and this year Anti-Bullying Week is happening from 12th - 16th November 2018. The theme is ‘choose respect’, and it was chosen after the ABA consulted over 800 children, teachers and members of the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Their ‘top priority was showing that bullying is a behaviour choice, and that children and young people can set a positive example by opting to respect each other at school, in their homes and communities, and online.’
On the ABA website it states:
The aims of this week are to support schools and other settings to help children and young people, school staff, parents and other professionals who work with children to understand:
- the definition of respect
- that bullying is a behaviour choice
- that we can respectfully disagree with each other i.e. we don’t have to be best friends or always agree with each other but we do have to respect each other
- that we all need to choose to respect each other both face to face and online.
It was this theme that got me thinking about a book that I hold very dear to my heart. One that I use with my own children to support them to understand their emotions, and how the choices they make impact on others. I’m sure we can all identify the child/children in our class or life that tends to be a "bottler" of their feelings, or those who find it harder to express their feelings until it all comes pouring out like a burst pipe.
The Soulbird by Michal Snunit, with its delightful drawings and poetic text, provides a shared language to be able to discuss these deeper more complex issues with children, and this shared language then aides children in making appropriate behavioural choices. It is an enchanting book with a simple message that would be suitable to share with both KS1 and KS2 pupils - as part of a whole school assembly; with a class or with smaller groups of individuals where appropriate.
The author, Michal Snunit, tells the story that deep within every person lives a soul bird, a creature who has thoughts, feelings, and dreams. The bird opens and closes the drawers of the soul, in which lie all our feelings: there is a drawer for jealousy, one for happiness, one for love, one for every human emotion. Only the soul bird keeps the key to these drawers. Sometimes we can tell the soul bird which drawer to unlock, but on occasion, it decides it all by itself. It charmingly reminds both the children, and us to listen to our Soulbird, and helps us to use this to understand why we behave the way we do. Once the children understand their behaviour, they can begin to make choices about how they want to feel, and how to respond to others respectfully.
During a week where your school may be talking about bullying and reviewing practices. It is also important to ensure that the pupils are engaged in meaningful activities that will promote a deeper understanding of the issues involved in bullying and the theme ‘choose respect’. The ABA provides a downloadable handout with tips on how to engage young people, but I couldn’t resist sharing this precious book with its deceptive simplicity that conceals a deeper philosophical message for us all.