I have asked children to write names of children who have been unkind on pieces of paper (which includes their own name so I can follow up the discussion.) I have also asked the children to think carefully about what they have said or done that is using their power to negatively impact others and invited them to come and talk to me and 'confess' before I learn about it in another way. Some of come to see me, and been very honest, which I respect. Others are still on their way.....
The reason I am doing this is because the fact is that we all do things wrong - even your child will have said something at some point that is exclusive or downright unkind. The point is NOT to make the children feel a 'leper' because they have been unkind, but to make them aware of their own thoughts and actions and their impact on others, and to give them the opportunity to reflect and make better decisions in future.
For some children, it is darned hard work not to act or react in negative ways, because they actually feel, for whatever reason, as though this is a way they can protect themselves. Their actions are usually little to do with the other person, and more to do with what they are feeling themselves - based on earlier 'stuff' that has happened to them or the way they have interpreted those events and feelings. For others, they simply enjoy a feeling of power.
Therefore, in order to turn things round, we need to, as a community, become aware of the impact of our actions and inaction (sometimes passivity or neutrality is a way of being unkind), support each other in making right choices, and, going forward, celebrate the times children were tempted to exclude and chose to include.
I have told the children I am going to be asking again in a couple of weeks for comments about any improvements seen, and I am talking with each 'confessing' child about what their actions and words they could use to help everyone know that they were changing and that this school was a fantastic safe place for everyone. We pray together for God's help.
I am telling you this because you are part of the team. Please encourage your child to come and see me if they are likely to have had their name written on the pieces of paper now in my office. I would prefer for them to come to me first rather than me seek them out.
This is humbling but also empowering for the children as they learn to 'own both the good and the bad in themselves' and begin to rewrite the scripts for their lives.
Thanks for your support.