A few days after Sandy, I found this sign stapled to a poll on the beach in New Dorp, Staten Island.  It reads,

Thank you to the little girl who gave me her last bucket of sand from the beach to fill my sandbags on Sunday afternoon.  From Melissa, Millbank Rd.  

 Do some kids just have more empathy than others?  I think so…but can most kids learn empathy?  I also think so.

The more I’m in schools and just observe children, in general, I think we might be missing the boat in bullying prevention, especially with younger children.

I just finished The Leader In Me by Stephen Covey.  This is a well known school program created by the author of the extremely popular 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

In a nutshell, The Leader In Me makes teaching leadership in school, including kindergarten and elementary school, a priority.  The result?  Less bullying issues but a lot of other benefits, too.  Schools who focus on leadership often have better test scores, experience an enjoyable school climate, happier teachers and more well-rounded students.

This makes sense to me which is why 2013 is Tangled Ball’s Year of Leadership.  

Kids want to be strong.  Often, that’s why they “bully.”  If we teach kids to be strong by giving them real leadership skills, I guarantee there will be less mean behavior.  Who doesn’t want happier, empowered kids, better test scores and less trips to the principals’ office?

Giving kids chances to be leaders is the trick.  Giving adults a reason to compliment their children goes a long way to inspire kids to want to do well, including being good to their peers.

Sounds old-fahioned.  It is.  Let’s bring it back anyway.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how to change our schools, ONE little leader at a time.

Speaking of leaders, here’s a beautiful example of adults and kids coming together and creating a way to step up to help others feel better.  I dare you not to cry as you listen to Ingrid Michaelson (coincidentally from Staten Island) and the kids of Newtown sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”