Bullying has been a classic problem that happens almost anywhere on earth. Not only limited to schools, bullying can also happen at your home, in your neighborhood, at your workplace and even in an online community. Bullying can occur in many forms, including emotional, verbal and physical forms, and are known to have bad effects on the victims.
Two major things that everyone should know when they become the victims of bullying are how to respond to bullying and how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Many juniors struggle with these problems at schools or in their neighborhoods. Thus, parents need to teach them how to deal with bullying as early as possible.
I personally find storybook an excellent tool for triggering parent-child discussion over sensitive topics like this. Hence, I will share about a fictional story written by Michael Scotto that tries to highlight this condition, entitled Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.
The story begins at Harvest Farms, home of Harvest Wannagood the Farmer. One day, he hears noises outside of his window while relaxing and writing his journal. It turns out that Buck O. Bobo, his Banker neighbor, is digging holes in Harvest's corn farm in search of treasures. Based on a map that he finds inside a bottle at the bottom of a nearby ocean, Buck believes there are valuable treasures to be found in Harvest's farm.
Despite Harvest's disbelief, Buck insists on digging. Even when Harvest says explicitly that he doesn't want Buck to dig his farm, Buck doesn't seem to care. He even threatens to tell everyone at the market that Harvest's crops have bad qualities and starts throwing ears of corns at Harvest. Refusing to fight Buck, Harvest decides to go back into the house where he expresses his sad emotions in his journal.
When Harvest goes to the market early the next morning, he is surprised and upset to find Buck still digging through his farm even though he has politely asked him to stop. Harvest then asks Buck to come with him to see Chief Tatupu, the leader of Midlandia, in order to solve their dispute.
When Harvest shows what he writes in his journal about how Buck's behavior has made him upset, Chief Tatupu begins to understand the problem. He then asks Buck to read Harvest's journal as well. After reading Harvest's journal, Buck starts to understand how bad his behaviour was.
Buck immediately apologizes to Harvest, and both of them come to an agreement that Buck can continue to dig for treasures as long as he doesn't disturb Harvest's plantations. Then, Harvest invites Buck to dinner and to spend the night at his farmhouse.
Parents Need to Know
Be a Buddy, Not a Bully is a part of Tales of Midlandia, a series of picture books aimed at young readers from Midlandia Press. The original paperback book was released on January 2012, featuring a similar set of illustrations as the iOS version. I personally prefer to have the iOS version because it offers a better interactivity, a narrated dialog and a small mini-game.
I believe this is a perfect storybook for juniors who are just starting to go to their formal schools. Based on my 3-year-old son's experience at his pre-K, no place is immune from bullying. Knowing what to do when a bullying occurs is vital to our juniors' emotional development.
The app also emphasizes on Harvest's habit of writing a daily journal. In addition to the discussion points about the bullying topic that you can find at the end of the story, you can also start a discussion with your juniors about this wonderful habit.
Finally, even though the story offers a solution to one particulary bullying problem, I believe you also need to weigh in all the options that your juniors can come up with when they are faced with the same situation. This is especially necessary when the bully doesn't care to change his behavior.
Things I Like
While the app already has a set of narrated dialogs, it's also nice to find that you can tap on each of the characters that is shown on the page, to learn about their inner thoughts. It is a good way to teach juniors that sometimes what people say are completely different from what they think or feel, and that we should care about how the other person would feel about the things we say to them.
I like the way the story is able to show what juniors can learn from both sides of the argument. From the victim's perspective, it might be best to withhold yourself from fighting back and to involve an authoritative third party instead. And if your juniors feel that they have bullied others, they can start by admitting their mistakes, then apologize and try to withhold themselves before repeating the same mistakes in the future.
Be a Buddy, Not a Bully is a great storybook app that has a great potential to become an excellent tool for parents to trigger deep and meaningful discussions with their juniors on things that would shape their characters as they are growing up, such as bullying. In addition to excellent graphics and narrated dialogs, it has a relatable storyline that is key to getting the message across to the readers.
Regardless whether your juniors are currently facing similar problems or not, I highly recommend you get this app for them. Learning from the examples here, they may be able to help their friends to avoid, respond, and recover from being the victims of bullying.