Promoting Kindness: A Pink Shirt Day Guide for Teachers and Parents

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Promoting Kindness: A Pink Shirt Day Guide for Teachers and Parents

Kindness is key, and since us grown ups are influential role models for our children, it's up to teachers and parents to lead the charge. At Teachers on Call, our in-person and online tutoring team has put together many of the ways we can all make learning spaces more inclusive and kind. Let’s get together for Pink Shirt Day and tackle bullying head-on, promoting kindness, and ensuring every kid feels seen and valued! Read on for some creative ways we can implement a more welcoming environment for students, and make sure it’s supported at home.

Why Bullying Is Everyone’s Problem

Bullying is a barrier to learning, affecting students’ academic performance and emotional well-being. When kids face bullying, their focus shifts from learning to self protection. This makes it tough for someone being bullied to engage in lessons, and it may even impact whether they want to attend school.

It’s a problem that can be made worse by social media, because sometimes there is no longer a physical barrier that keeps bullying outside of the house. Many of us, parents included, finished school before social media became such a phenomenon, and we’re used to thinking of home as a “safe place.” With social media presence and online classroom elements, that may no longer be true.

Recognizing the Signs of a Child Who Is Being Bullied – or Who Might Be the Bully

By identifying these signs early, a child’s support network of teachers, parents, and other professionals can help intervene, offering support and strategies.

Potential signs a child might be experiencing bullying:

  • Declining Grades or an Uncharacteristic Report Card
  • Unexplained Injuries
  • Lost or Damaged Belongings
  • Changes in Eating Habits
  • Difficulty Sleeping or Frequent Nightmares
  • Avoidance of School or Other Social Situations
  • Sudden Loss of Friends or Avoidance of Peers
  • Feelings of Helplessness or Decreased Self-Esteem
  • Self-Destructive Behaviors
  • Physical Complaints That Could Be Signs of Stress

Potential signs a child might be engaging in bullying behaviours:

  • Aggressive Behavior - including physical actions like hitting, kicking, or pushing, or verbal aggression such as yelling, name-calling, or making threats.
  • Intimidation Tactics - glaring, standing too close, or using menacing gestures are examples.
  • Relational Aggression - spreading rumors, encouraging others to exclude someone, or publicly embarrassing them.
  • Lack of Empathy - showing little concern for their victim's feelings or the consequences of their actions. They might appear indifferent or even pleased when someone else is upset or hurt.
  • Blaming Others - refusing to take responsibility.
  • Seeking Control - dominating situations and making all the decisions in group settings.
  • Enjoyment of Power - especially enjoying the reaction their behaviour elicits.

How Teachers Can Promote Kindness and Empathy in the Classroom

Depending on the age of your students, you may want to adopt one of these activities. We also encourage you to read one of our previous years’ Pink Shirt Day posts for more ideas to promote kindness!

  • Kindness Journals: Encourage students to keep a journal where they note acts of kindness they've observed, received, or done each day. This can help foster an awareness and appreciation for positive interactions.
  • Compliment Circles: Hold regular sessions where students can offer compliments to their peers. This activity promotes positive communication and helps build self-esteem and a sense of community in the classroom.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Challenge: Challenge students to perform random acts of kindness for others, without expecting anything in return. They can share their experiences during class discussions, inspiring others to do the same.
  • Community Service Projects: Involve students in planning and executing a community service project. This could range from organizing a school-wide anti-bullying campaign to volunteering at a local charity. This is a great opportunity for schools to enable high school students to gain volunteer hours, too!

It isn’t enough to ONLY promote kindness and hope that it defeats bullying; it’s also important to build an environment that supports and celebrates diversity of all kinds. When we normalize the idea that it’s okay to be different, it fosters a culture where every student knows they belong, makes the self-esteem of students more resilient.

Parents can Play a Part, too!

Parents play a pivotal role in reinforcing efforts initiated at school, complimenting teachers' educational strategies. Here are some activities you can take part in at home.

  • Empathy Role-Playing: Imagine putting yourselves in others' shoes. You can use real people, fictional characters from movies and TV, or even create whole imaginary scenarios for strangers you might see at the park. (This is a great exercise for creative writing students, too!)
  • Volunteering As a Family: For charities, or even neighbours.
  • Reading and Discussion: Select books that focus on themes of kindness, empathy, and diversity. Set aside time to read together and discuss the story's morals, too.
  • Start A Kindness Project: writing thank-you messages for emergency workers, writing notes or drawing pictures for residents of long-term care homes like in Annie’s Project, or creating thoughtful care packages for people impacted by homelessness.

Parents also can work to maintain open lines of communication with their children about their day-to-day experiences. Try to encourage them to share their feelings and any concerns about school, including instances of bullying. By actively listening and showing empathy, parents can foster an environment children feel safe to disclose their problems.

Collaborating with teachers and school staff by staying informed about the school’s anti-bullying policies and activities is also a great way to stay involved!

Get Ready to Start Promoting Kindness On Pink Shirt Day!

Ready to get your pink on? You can find a pink shirt at a retailer near you or visit the shop at pinkshirtday.ca. Net proceeds from all sales go directly to helping children in British Columbia and Western Canada.

Or, if you want to show some team spirit, we’ve got some great other ideas here you might love that let everyone show their creativity and individuality!

Kindness Cards

Use whatever materials you have at hand and make kindness cards!

Bullying Colouring Pages

There are many places you can print out free Bullying Coloring Pages. Find some here.

Got a Cricut?

We love using Cricut in the classroom. You can employ it in too many ways to count for Pink Shirt Day, including making your own shirts! If you want to make your own shirts, ask students to bring a polyester or cotton t-shirts to class, and then you’ll need three things to make the iron-on transfers:

  • Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
  • A vector pattern (.SVG) you can upload to the Cricut Design Space
  • An iron or Cricut EasyPress 2 to apply them.

If you use a normal iron, be sure to use no steam and set your iron to the highest setting your fabric can handle. Use a protective piece of cloth or parchment paper between the iron and HTV, and apply firm pressure while ironing.

Cricut has these fun patterns available: Dude, Be Kind Shirt, Kindness Shirt, Pink Shirt Day Shirts, Make Bullying Extinct Shirt

There are also some great, low-priced SVG Pink Shirt Day patterns on Etsy! Find them here.

Working together collaboratively, we as teachers and parents can promote kindness in the classroom and at home to create a supportive network around each student. Making our schools kinder places where learning thrives is a goal we can all agree on!

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