A few nights ago when I was giving Hayley and Savanna a bath we were talking about recess. The convo went a little something like this:
Me: "Savanna who do you play with during recess at school?
S: "I hate recess. No one ever wants to play with me, so I end up sitting on the line and waiting to go back into the class"
My heart breaking inside. Flash backs of being a kid and a mean boy throwing gum in my hair.
Me: "What about _________ and ______________? Who do they play with?
S: "I ask to play, but they say I can't play with them. Everyone else is playing without me"
Me: "I am so sorry that happened to you. It must have made you sad."
S: Pours bubbles on her sisters head and laughs
So if you know Savanna, you know that she is a firecracker. She marches to the beat of her own drum and generally likes to play what she wants to play. She doesn't really NEED a playmate, because she is really good at making her own fun.
I am sad to learn about Savannas recess troubles, especially since it caused me to relive my own childhood trauma of always feeling left out of the fun. Thankfully, I was able to calm down and acknowledge that there is NO WAY that I am getting the whole story.
I am certain that Savanna has friends she plays with AND I'm sure she has left other kids out at times. Of course I validated her feelings of being sad for getting left out, but I also viewed this as a teaching opportunity.
When I get upset (and once I have a problem to solve) I am blessed to be able to calm down and then come up with a creative solution to solve it. Well maybe not always solve it, but taking action to ATTEMPT to solve it gives me some control over the situation.
What I believe was happening, was that my kindergartner just needed a little more training around being kind and what it means to be a good friend.
Enter B-KIND Bingo
B-KIND Bingo was created to support young children to become aware of themselves, to cultivate kindness and help them build friendships. Children don’t always naturally want to play with other children who they don’t know very well, so it is important that the grown-ups in their lives guide them and model being welcoming & kind. We don't need to be friends with everyone (because who has the time?), but we can be inclusive and generous with our time.
Don't worry, if you are modeling kindness and your child still "misbehaves", you are not alone and it is totally normal. Thank god for mindfulness and second(and third and fourth) chances.
Actually, when I introduced the idea of this "game" to Savanna she had a total meltdown and said she didn't want to do any of the activities, or "chores" as she called them. Her reaction only validated to me the importance of her doing these activities, not only to become a better friend, but also so she can cultivate her resiliency by doing something that she views as "hard".
No one ever said parenting was easy!
How to Play B-KIND Bingo
Let your child pick the square, read it to them and help them decide on how they will accomplish the activity. You may have to model it first for them to help them feel more confident. Once they report back that they completed it, keep track of their accomplishment with special stickers or a smiley face.
When your child gets one “Bingo” make sure you use encouraging comments like, “I’m proud of you for following through and being kind to others” or “you are working so hard on this activity”. These types of comments foster a growth mindset and encourages them to work harder because their motivation comes from within not from external praise. We recommend aiming to fill up the entire card and then doing something fun as a family or with friends to celebrate 😊
Ask them questions about how it felt to complete each activity, which ones they liked best and how they think the children on the receiving end felt. You could also invite them to tell the story of one of their experiences. These types of interactions build the development of their brain, specifically the pre-frontal cortex, which is important for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior.
If you like B-KIND Bingo you might also enjoy the book that I wrote with my daughter Madyson that aims to start a discussion about how to include people who are new or different. Check it out HERE.