Story Swap

Look Back . . .

Can you remember times when you were repeatedly teased, humiliated, or shut out of a group? When you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do by someone you considered more powerful than you? When YOU intentionally hurt someone who was vulnerable, or witnessed this happening to someone else? If you are like most people, you remember . . . and these memories can last a lifetime. 

Talking about bullying can help. Children may be reluctant to share their experiences because they believe their situation is unique, shameful, or unimportant. They may think adults can’t understand or help. But hearing a story about an adult’s bullying experiences may move a child to reveal his or her own experiences.

1. Remember your own childhood story of initiating, experiencing, or witnessing bullying. 

2. Share your story with the children in your care and explain how it made you feel then and now.   

3. Ask children to share their own bullying story. (When in a group, have children substitute fictional names for real ones.) Acknowledge that children might feel embarrassed or afraid to recount their experience in front of others.

4. Discuss how the stories made them feel—to tell and to hear. 

5. Tell children that bullying should not happen. Brainstorm suggestions for things children can do to stop or prevent bullying, using the stories they told as examples. You may want to write down their responses. Later, after they have worked through the toolkit, return to this exercise to see how their responses may have changed.

6. Invite children to write a story about a bullying experience. Encourage young children to draw pictures. These may be the preferred options for children who are uncomfortable sharing their experiences aloud.