Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bunny Foo Foo - Bully, or Just in Need of Some Direction?

 Oh, Bunny Foo Foo!   There are so many different rabbits around.  Why do you persist?

I received a wonderful message on Facebook this week from the parent of a two year old. She wanted to let her Music with Mar. Instructor know how proud she was of her daugther.  One of the other children on the playground pushed her and instead of pushing back, she did what she learned in the "New, Improved Bunny Foo Foo" that she hears every week in Music with Mar. Class. She put her hand up and said "Stop!"  How good does it feel when we learn that what we teach is being not only heard, but used! 

Little Bunny Foo Foo is so well known because of his bopping the mouse on the head.  For years, children have sung this song and laughed.  When my job as a music teacher got me working with children younger and younger, I noticed it had different significance and provoked different reactions from younger children.  So, I changed the words.  In this version, BFF sits by himself to think of better choices and decides to hug the mouse.  
Here's the video:

Now, I'm not a big fan of political correctness; yet, this story needed some fixing.  When we teach about bullying, we must teach not just to the child who must defend themselves, but to the bully, too.  Peter Alsop, a child’s psychologist and award-winning children’s musician,  has some good songs (and advice) on this topic.   We can get everyone to learn how not to be bullied yet, if we don't teach the bully how to change, they'll just keep bullying.   
       It's important that a child feels uncomfortable when they make a bad choice.  Madelyn Swift, author of “Teach Your Children Well”,  has stated that if children are not made to feel uncomfortable for a bad choice, they will repeat that bad choice.  We must remember that children need us to take the time and explain what they've done and what that action has caused.  Be mindful that the action is hurtful, not the child.  Give the child a way out to fix what they've done.   Dr. Becky Bailey has very helpful information and tools through Loving Guidance materials.  A visit to her website by clicking on that link would be time well spent.
     The child must then apologize.  Saying "I'm sorry" is a quick fix so they can get on to hit the next kid.  It is important to learn to say "I'm sorry" and that has to be attached to what "I'm sorry" means.  A big last step is the person accepting the apology doesn't have to immediately play with that person again.  We can teach children to say "Thank you for apologizing.  I don't feel safe with you yet.  I need some space."  When we teach that when someone says "I'm sorry" we must play with them again, we teach people to stay in abusive relationships.  
   I'd like to state that we can go overboard about an anti-bullying stance.  Children need to learn, through uninterrupted interactions, how to handle things on their own.  Adults do not need to jump in at the first sign (or possibly second) of a child being 'pushy' or 'bossy'.  There's a good chance the other children will stop him (or her) naturally.  
   This week's episode of "Modern Family" had Lily's dad impose himself into the children's game.  There were so many other actions he could have taken.  The episode showed exactly what adults shouldn't do.
        Before closing on this statement, I’d like to share a bulletin board designed by children in a NYC Head Start Program.  I had worked with them on the story of Little Bunny Foo Foo.  The techniques from the book were used for conflict resolution and the children remember the lesson well.  As a matter of fact, I saw it in action.  
     A little girl had been poking the boy in front of her.  He kept moving his body as children will but saying nothing.  The director said to me, “Watch this.  You will be so proud.”  She walked over and asked “Is she bothering you?” to which the boy replied, “Yes.” 
“What would you like to say to her?” the director asked.  The little boy turned and said, “I don’t like it when you poke.  Stop it.” 
“I’m sorry” was the reply. And, she put out her arms for a hug.  The little boy said, as was taught by me, “I don’t feel safe but thank you for the apology.”
The director saw the little girl’s hurt fact and asked the boy, “Will you feel safe tomorrow?”
“Yes” he said and the little girl said, with a smile, “See ya tomorrow!” 
What a joy to watch two children work it out!  

If you must have Little Bunny Foo, please let it be the new, improved version, which is available at many outlets including The Mar. Mall.
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