Robin Kahn's Blog (Our educational Director)
Worksheets: Raising a Respectful Child Meeting
Last week the fourth grade parents met with Carol Gantman, a BAI member and social worker, & I for a discussion about raising respectful fourth graders. The materials below guided a rich discussion and are appropriate for everyone to use and adapt with their own children of all ages. I hope you find them useful!
WHAT DO I DO?
Read each scenario and discuss with your partner the response the character should take.
- Take A Stand
- Ask for Help
- Not Sure
Isabelle notices that Joey is sitting by himself in the cafeteria. As she walks by him to find a seat for herself, she hears two other students seated nearby laughing and saying that Joey’s lunch is “gross” and that his mom must only know how to cook “stinky food” for her family. Joey keeps on eating, but his head is down. What can Isabelle do?
Dan and Sam are both trying to use one of the only open swings on the playground. Both students have one hand on the swing and as Mike walks by he hears Dan say, “You’re too fat for the swing Sam! It will break if you get on it.” Sam answers by saying he was there first, and Dan begins to kick sand up and tug at the swing. What can Mike do?
Shelly brings her two dads to parent night to show them around her classroom and to meet her friends and teacher. The next day, Rachel turns to Mia and says she doesn’t want to be Shelly’s friend anymore because her family is “weird.” Shelly comes over to color with Rachel and Mia, and Rachel says “Eew, we don’t want any weirdos over here. Go sit somewhere else.” What can Mia do?
Rob notices that Leah has been staying behind after school to get help on her math homework. One day Rob stays late too to volunteer in the library, and sees Leah standing outside the school waiting to be picked up. As Rob watches, two older students approach Leah and begin grabbing her homework papers and laughing at the mistakes they see there. One student begins ripping Leah’s paper. What can Rob do?
Ben and Alex are good friends, and sit together every day on the bus to and from school. Dave sometimes sits near them, but has stopped recently because a group of students who also ride the bus have started sitting behind Ben and Alex and throwing balls of paper and other garbage at them for the whole ride. Dave also hears the group calling Ben gay and saying Alex must really be a boy because otherwise she would have friends who are girls. What can Dave do?
I WAS JUST KIDDING
When teasing or name-calling leads to hurt feelings or consequences, “I was just kidding!” is a common response. Most of us enjoy good-natured teasing that is done in fun. And some people just don’t know how to take a joke, right? So how do we know when we have crossed the line?
When are we no longer “just kidding,” but participating in mean behavior?
Read the scenarios below. With a partner or in a small group, discuss whether or not you think each situation is an example of harmless teasing or hurtful language. Explain how you came to your decisions or what additional information you need to make a decision.
1. Sonia recently moved to Lincoln Heights and just finished her first week at the local middle school. At 5 feet 8 inches, she towered over most of the students in her seventh grade class. While looking for a place to sit during lunch, another student called to her, “Hey, shorty, there’s a spot over here!” Sonia paused for a moment and another girl from the group waved her over. “Don’t pay attention to her,” she told Sonia. “That’s just the way we talk to each other. They call me Einstein because I got all C’s on my last report card.”
Harmless teasing or hurtful language? Why?
2. For years, Angel has made fun of his best friend, Dave’s, peanut butter obsession. “You’d eat my gym sock if it was covered in peanut butter,” he once told Dave. One day in science lab, the students designed mazes to test the intelligence of white mice. When the teacher told the class that they would be baiting the mazes with peanut butter, Angel called out, “Better be careful—Dave might get to the end of the maze before the mice!” The other students broke out in laughter.
Harmless teasing or hurtful language? Why?
3. On Monday afternoon, Rob used his recess time to hang campaign posters around the school, which read, “Vote Rob for Student Council President.” On Tuesday morning in homeroom, Rob found one of his posters taped to the blackboard in the front of the classroom. Someone had crossed out the word, “President,” and replaced it with “First Lady.” One of Rob’s classmates pointed to a girl in the first row, indicating that Maria had altered the poster. Rob glared at her as he tore down the poster. “It’s just a joke,” Maria laughed. “Lighten up—I’m gonna vote for you.”
Harmless teasing or hurtful language? Why?
Based on your conversation, list three ways to complete the following sentence.
Teasing has crossed the line to become hurtful when…
TEASING OR BULLYING?
Most of us enjoy teasing that is done in fun. Sometimes, though, our joking goes too far. We all need to be sensitive to topics and behaviors that may not be appreciated by others. Use the information below to help evaluate when teasing is good-natured and when it has crossed the line.
Remember, everyone deserves the right to feel safe and to be left alone.
• Involves a playful back-and-forth between both parties
• Is accompanied by a friendly tone of voice and laughter
• Is accompanied by affectionate gestures or expressions
• Brings people closer and encourages friendships
• Sometimes helps to lighten a tense or angry situation
• Does not lead to physical confrontations
HURTFUL TEASING OR BULLYING…
• May be accompanied by an angry tone of voice
• May be accompanied by angry body language, such as clenched fists
• Continues even when the person being teased shows distress
• Continues even when the person teasing knows the topic is upsetting to others
• Is sometimes accompanied by showing off in front of others
Consider the following three areas before engaging in what may seem like good-natured teasing. If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you may be crossing the line.
THE PERSONALITY AND EXPERIENCES OF THE OTHER PERSON:
• Are you aware that the person has not appreciated teasing in the past?
• Are you aware that certain subjects are touchy for the other person?
• Are you aware of a factor in the other person’s life that may make them especially
sensitive to teasing?
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND THE OTHER PERSON:
• Is the person a stranger or someone you don’t know very well?
• Do you have a history of social problems with the person?
• Is he or she likely to misunderstand your intentions or sense of humor?
• Are you bigger and/or older than the other person?
• Are there gender, race or other differences between you that may make some topics inappropriate?
THE TOPIC OF THE TEASING:
• Is the teasing about identity (race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender)?
• Is the teasing about appearance (body size/shape, complexion, clothing, physical
• Is the teasing about ability (intelligence, physical strength or skill)?
• Is the teasing about social status (friends, family, class)?
• Does the teasing compare someone with an object or animal in an offensive way?
• Does the teasing have sexual content?
- The Heart of the Ten Commandments is to be found in the words: Revere thy father and thy mother. The problem I as a father face, is why my child should revere me. Unless my child will sense in my personal existence acts and attitudes the evoke reverence—the ability to delay satisfactions, to overcome prejudices, to sense the holy to strive for the noble—why should he/she revere me? (Abraham Joshua Heschel in The Insecurity of Freedom)
- Our most important task as parents is raising children who will be decent, responsible, and caring people devoted to making this world a more just and compassionate place. We can fashion for ourselves and our children a warmer, kinder world that will dispel the darkness and isolation. (Neil Kurshan in Raising Your Child to Be a Mensch)
- When people have learned to desanctify each other, to treat each other as means to our own ends, to not feel the pain of those who are suffering, we end up creating a world in which these terrible acts of violence become more common…. I categorically reject any notion that violence is ever justified. It is always an act of desanctification, not being able to see the diving in each other. (Rabbi Michael Lerner, in From the Ashes)
- Teaching your children to become assertive, not aggressive, to get their needs met in responsible, constructive ways, and to “be good,” “do good,” and “will good” takes time and effort on your part. It involves all of the steps above as well as taking stock of the way you get your own needs met, the way you handle minor and major conflicts in your own life, and the way you respond to your children’s mistakes, mischief, and mayhem. But the time and effort are well worth it. There will be no more bullies in the house. (Barbara Coloroso in The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School—How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence)
- Children learn to care by experiencing good care. The come to know the blessings of gentleness, of sympathy, of patience and kindness, of support and backing, first through the way in which they themselves are treated. (James L. Hymes Jr. in Teaching the Child Under Six)
THE DANES TAKE A STAND
When the Nazis (a horrifying gang of bullies) invaded Denmark in 1940, the citizens united to form a strong resistance movement. Refusing to cooperate with the planned deportation of Danish Jews, the Danes began spiriting their neighbors and relatives across the channel to Sweden in small fishing vessels. Scientist and fisherman worked together to come up with ways to numb the noses of the dogs used by the Nazis to search these vessels for stowaways. These small boats, with their undetected human cargo, met up with large Swedish ships in the channel. In all, 7,200 of the 7,800 Danish Jews and 700 of their non-Jewish relatives were smuggled safely out of Denmark.
One of the resistance workers, Preben Munch-Nielson, wrote an account of this daring rescue. Hailing from a small Danish fishing village and only seventeen years old at the time the Jews were evacuated, he explained why he and the many other Danes defied the Gestapo:
You can’t let people in need down. You can’t turn the back to people who need your help. There must be some sort of decency in man’s life and that wouldn’t have been decent to turn the back. So there’s no question of why or why not. You just did. That’s the way you’re brought up. That’s the way of tradition in my country. You help, of course… could you have retained your self respect if you knew that these people would suffer and you had said, “No, not at my table?” No. No way. So that’s not a problem—you just have to do it. And nothing else.
(Posted at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.)
Just as courageous was a young man German naval attaché, Georg Duckwitz, who leaked in advance to the Danes the Germans’ plan for deportation of Jews. Georg Duckwitz committed this act of conscious disobedience to save lives, willing to accept whatever penalty might be imposed as a consequence. If only some of the bystanders had been willing and able to do that same for kids like Dawn Marie.
In the next chapter, we’ll explore how families can help raise decent, caring, responsible kids who can act in their own best interest, stand up for themselves, exercise their own rights while respecting the rights and legitimate needs of others, act with integrity, and have the moral strength and courage to stand up and speak out against injustices.
In one way or another, as a supporter, as a perpetrator, as a victim, or one who opposed the ghastly system, something happened to our humanity. All of us South Africans were less whole…. Those who were privileged lost out as they became more uncaring, less compassionate, less humane, and therefore less human…. Our humanity is caught up in that of all others. We are human because we belong. We are made for community, for togetherness, for family, to exist in a delicate network of interdependence…. We are sisters and brothers of one another whether we like it or not, and each one of us is a precious individual.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
No Future Without Forgiveness
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