Since my daughters have started their elementary education I have noticed that there is a clear emphasis on developing a strong sense of community within the school. The teachers and students are very active in lessons about bullying, friendship and how to deal with disputes.
One of the early lessons that has really stuck with me is the one that Tasha first learned back in grade one to help teach the children not to tattle. Tasha explained to us that if a student felt it was necessary to approach a teacher to tell them something that they should first ask themselves a question. Is the situation dangerous or destructive? Because if it is not then the student is really tattling and there is no need to get a grown up involved.
I found the "Dangerous or Destructive?" rule very helpful and began using it at home as well to help teach my daughters when it was appropriate to get an adult involved with a disagreement between children.
As much as that rule has helped me both at home and at school, My husband and I have still had unexpected challenges to deal with... sometimes the girls fail to recognize the dangerous consequences of a situation and fail to get us involved when they should. Other times, their definition of dangerous and destructive is a bit different than mine might be *grin*. As with all things, practice makes perfect! We continue to work with our daughters (and now with other people's children as we coach soccer and lead Sparks meetings). Sometimes, our efforts are informal and other times we take a more directed approach to helping the children learn to handle interpersonal relationships.
One of our viewers recently contributed a couple of lesson plans for us to include in our site. The first lesson helps children learn the difference between tattling and reporting. The second lesson teaches friendship and help children to understand discrimination or prejudice. Both lessons include follow up questions and activities to get your classroom involved in a discussion about the topic of the books. You might like to give them a try in your classroom.
Tandy Braid is an elementary school guidance counselor and has written two books which have become the basis for the lesson plans which she has shared with us. Thank you Tandy!