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Pink Shirt Day and talking about "bullying" with young children

On February 27th, CFIS staff and students alike celebrated Pink Shirt Day by wearing pink to show our commitment to healthy, balanced friendships. Pink Shirt Day is often referred to as “Anti-Bullying Day,” but especially with young children, focusing on kind behaviours and what it means to be a good friend provides a clearer and more positive perspective for the day. Our students happily explained to me that they were wearing pink to show that they know it is important to be a good friend. A truly heart-warming example of this occurred today, when CFIS hosted a little girl who will be attending Grade 1 at our school in the fall. As part of her visit, I took her to spend time in one of our kindergarten classrooms. As soon as we arrived, one of our students approached her, asked her name, and then offered to help her put her stuff away, find a spot, and to play with her later. All of this was entirely spontaneous and completely genuine. The little visitor happily went off with her new friend, and was clearly grateful for a warm and friendly face. We are so lucky to have so many kind little hearts in our school community!

On a related note, did you know that while rude, mean, and thoughtless behaviours in young children are definitely a cause for concern, they are frequently not part of a pattern of true bullying? Most young children have moments when they are guilty of unkind or impolite words and actions toward others, and times when they are the recipient of hurtful behaviours, but these are not always a sign that a child is a bully, or is being bullied. A good working definition of bullying (in child-friendly language) is, "When someone hurts your body or your feelings, on purpose, over and over, even when you tell them to stop."

This HuffPost piece provides a good breakdown of different categories of behaviour:

This PDF provides some useful language when talking about challenging peer interactions with young children. The language in both of these is also consistent with the definitions we use here at CFIS.


Amy Murray
Principal, Early Childhood Division
Calgary French & International School