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Pay It Forward

When you “pay if forward”, the hope is that you will inspire others to do the same. If you help someone change a flat tire, they will feel so good, that they may pay someone else’s’ parking meter. If everyone kept passing kindness to the next person, there would be a non-stop flow of good deeds.

Paying it forward is something someone does because they want to do it and it should be done without looking for something in return.

Example: There was a young man who was looking for a job. Everywhere he went he had no success.
After a full day of job hunting he was about to climb on his bike to go home, when he saw a lady almost dropping four grocery bags, he dropped his bike to the ground and ran over to help her. He helped her carry them down the block and up the stairs of her apartment. She offered to pay him but he refused to take the money. About a week later he stopped into a pet shop that had a “Help Wanted” sign in the window. When he walked up to the counter asked the women who owned store for an applications. The owner recognized him immediately, thanked him again for helping her with the grocery bags and gave him the job.

Little things like this that we do can not only help reinforce our positive behavior skills but also pay forward and unseen investment that will eventually pay us back tenfold.

There are schools that have teachers and staff acting as secret mentors who are Paying it Forward to the students in their school. Each teacher or staff member have a selected number of students that they agreed to take notice, cheer on and support. As one middle school teacher explained to me: “There are some students in my school who may never hear a complement at home. That is why I make it a point that they hear one from me every day.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Report on Violance in Schools found that adolescents who viewed their teachers as providing both academic and emotional support were less likely to experience alienation from school or emotional distress.

School staff I talk to who implement this secret mentor program notice a reduction in aggressive behavior and disrespect.

I am sure you remember a teacher who patted you on the back and might have said something like, “hang in there” and you may still remember how good it felt. Well now it is your turn to “pay it forward”.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Being Consistent

I attended a two day seminar on bully prevention. We discussed one of the problems facing many of our schools; “A lack of consistency when disciplining aggressive behavior (bullying).”
We ask our children to stand-up for themselves or speak up against bullying but if there is no real structure of rules or discipline in place, we are setting them up for failure and further pain.
As I mentioned in my last blog there needs to be set rules and consequences. Teachers, school administration, and staff all need to understand these rules and consequences and enforce them as written.
I have presented my bully prevention programs at many schools throughout the United States and Canada. They usually bring me in to kick off or to reinforce their school wide bully free, safe school program. Several of these schools have a positive behavior program or promote buddies instead of bullies plan in place. They pride themselves with having a strong commitment from teachers, students and staff. They may even have students filling their buckets with good behavior rewards. But if a student reports another student for bullying behavior and the aggressor (bully) is let off with just a warning, it sends the message to the whole school that you can get away with disrespectful behavior.
“Consistent enforcement of the code of conduct requires active vigilant supervision and is one of the most effective and economical prevention strategies.” Dorothea Ross
Dr. Dan Olweus wrote, “The single most effective deterrent to bully behavior is adult authority.” If schools really want to put an end to bullying and want their students to speak up against bullying, they need to walk the talk. They need to enforce the rules and consequences at all times. Every student in the school must know that if they break the rules they will be disciplined. Students also need to feel secure in knowing that if they report a student for aggressive (bully) behavior that the principal or teacher will enforce the schools code of conduct or rules without any variation.
Recently I spoke at a school in Lincoln Park, Michigan. I was happy to hear that in addition to the principal and teachers, the cooks and the janitorial staff was also on board to promote a bully free school. All the students know that if they are caught breaking the school and/or cafeteria code of conduct rules they will be disciplined accordingly. One cook told me, “I hear new student being told by old students to never break the rules because YOU WILL GET IN TROUBLE with Mrs. A, she never gives in.”
Never Give In!
If you have rules in place, ENFORCE THEM! Don’t be the one that gives just a warning. Let the students understand that there is no weak link when it comes to disciplining bully behavior. Let the targets of a bully, and the students speaking up against bullying know you appreciate their efforts to make the report, and YOU WON’T LET THEM DOWN.
Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Setting Rules and Consequences

Seven years I adopted a white German Shepherd mix from the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue. When we drove over to meet him he was an angel. I played with him, walked him and decided quickly without consulting my wife and kids to adopt the dog.

Needless to say when he came into our home he turned from this calm laid back dog into a monster. It got to the point where my wife said, “It’s either me or that crazy dog!”

I called some friends who knew a dog trainer and when I told him my wife gave me the ultimatum he said, “Do you like your wife?” Then he asked me a bunch of questions and said, “The problem is you have no rules and consequences. You need to figure out your rules, what this dog can or cannot do and enforce them. The dog needs to understand the consequences so he can begin to learn what is right and what is wrong. Most importantly you need to be specific and stick to it!” We did what he said and implemented positive training and overtime he has become great loving family friend.

Let’s be clear our children are not dogs, but there needs to be rules at school and at home that children/students can understand and know what will happen if they break those rules.
For example many children are involved in a sport. From day one they are taught what to do and what not to do. They’re given a set of rules or boundaries and if a player breaks a rule or steps out of the boundaries there are consequences. When my daughter plays softball if she gets three strikes she’s out.

At home and at school we need to discuss the rules and the consequences with our children and students. They need to know without a doubt that if you break a rule they will disciplined accordingly. There can be no second chance, or allowing even one child to slack off. If this is done even once, they will take advantage of you or the situation.

I was at a restaurant a few weeks ago and I overheard a mother saying to her child, “If you do that one more time we are going home!” After eight more times the child was still aggressive and unruly and she was still threatening to take him home.

Like New Year’s resolutions if you don’t actually implement them then why even write them out or bother saying you are going to do something if you’re not going to follow through.

Now you may be thinking that I am talking about ZERO TOLERANCE, severe and punitive consequences and or punishment. Now I totally agree that a child needs to be suspended or removed from a school if they have brought a weapon to school or physically hurt or attempted to hurt students or teachers.
But there also needs to be a set of rules for things outside of this kind of behavior. To suspend a child for tripping, shoving or calling another child a name may be a little over the top.

Michigan Public Policy Initiative in 2003 reported, “It is estimated that more than 3600 students were expelled from Michigan schools during academic year 1999-2000. Many of these students were expelled for behaviors that once would have been considered nothing more that adolescent antics or poor judgment.”

Yes we need to have severe consequences for the student who is clearly out to attack or physically hurt another child, but there also needs to be a different set of rules and consequences for other aggressive and disrespectful behavior.

The Michigan Strategic Alternative in Prevention Education has put together a program entitled, “Bully Free Schools.” As part of this program they discuss how administrators and staff can create a “discipline rubric” that has three levels of behavior; low level aggression, moderate level aggression, severe level aggression. They also explain how to put together first time, second time and third time consequences.
What I love the most about creating this rubric is that you as a school or family can create this to fit your goals and objectives. You can also have the child who has broken the rule look at it and figure out his or her own consequences.

Almost every school that I have presented my bully prevention programs to has in place some kind of positive behavior support system. However the teachers and the student often don’t seem to have a clear understanding of the rules and the consequences.

Constantly reinforce positive behavior support. Explain the rule and consequences more than once so students will come to understand that misbehaving, hurting or bullying another will require authorities to discipline them for their actions.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013