One of the great things about homeschooling (and, yes, afterschooling) is that you get to think at depth about hot topics like childhood bullying (including relational aggression) and hitting.
For me, I’ve always seen these issues as multi-dimensional problems. On the one hand, with children, there’s emotional and physical manipulation tactics being employed that simply must be addressed to ensure safety and well-being. On the other are issues related to conflict management.
The second set of challenges is, in many ways, the most significant because it is a life skill. That’s why, for me, books that restrict the conversation to “it’s wrong to hit” or “be nice and sunny to everyone” come up short.
The way that I see it, if one seeks to stop physical and emotional aggression a playground (or in the board room), then one must have a handle on peaceful means to negotiating lasting resolutions. Moreover, one must come to prize the protection of emotional and physical safety. And although we don’t talk about it much as a society, sometimes one must be prepared to accept that the most sensible course of action is to completely sever all ties with a repeat aggressor–especially when it comes to relational aggression actions like exclusion, shunning, gossip, social humiliation, withdrawing attention or friendship, and cyber-bullying. (Yes, I’m thinking about “mean girls”–or my new preferred term “bullies in disguise.” )
Pictured above are a round up of books that we’ve used to get at this issue, to really try to peel back the layers to the problem.
Here’s the list, in no particular order:
- We Can Work It Out: Conflict Resolution for Children by Barbara K. Polland
- How to Behave and Why by Munro Leaf
- Talk and Work It Out (Learning to Get Along) by Cheri J. Meiners
- What Does It Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio (discussed here previously at RW&G)
- Three books in the “A First Look At…” series by Pat Thomas, who is my favorite go-to author for thorny childhood issues: Is It Right to Fight?, I Can Be Safe, and Stop Picking On Me
I’ve placed this group of books in a special category over on my Amazon store so that you can take a closer look at them and check out other reader’s reviews. Many of them are in your local library, too. Note that while We Can Work It Out is out of print, it’s worth locating a used copy online, if you can.
What about you and your family–how do you approach issues of interpersonal conflict, bullying, and aggression? Any favorite books or videos to recommend?