To be most effective, communicate not only to prompt thinking but to also prompt good feelings. This is especially the case when you would like to put a stop to irresponsible behavior—such as bullying. Explain the MOTIVATION of those students whose behavior is on Level B of the Levels of Development—those who boss and bully others.
Use a ruler or a meter stick (yard stick in the U.S.A.) to demonstrate a teeter-totter (see-saw). Hold it flat, parallel to the floor, and describe that this is how it looks when people are balanced with themselves and with others—when they are making responsible choices.
However, when one person starts to pick on another person, the teeter-totter gets out of balance. The person who is picked on starts to feel as if he/she is “lower” than the other person. But, in reality, the bully who forces the tilt is actually the one who is out of balance and feeling bad about her/himself. (Tilt the teeter-totter out of balance to show this.)
The bullying behavior is actually an attempt to pull the other person down to the bully’s level–to try to bring things back into balance from the bully’s perspective. (Balance the teeter-totter by bringing the higher side down.)
People should see the bully as someone who is having a bad day or feeling bad for some reason. Challenge students to keep this in mind as they decide how to respond to bullying behavior.
With younger kids, prompt them to say, “Sorry you are having a bad day.” The usual result is that the bully is left speechless. Many times the choice is simply to recognize what is going on and walk away, realizing that the one with the problem is the bully.
Having youngsters understand that bullying behavior indicates that the bully is “out of balance” is empowering and very liberating.
The discussion also opens the eyes of the bully. No one wants to be known as someone who has problems. These students usually have never thought about their own behavior in this way.