Yesterday my 9-year-old daughter Grace related how one of her classmates with a new haircut was greeted on the bus with laughing, sneers and snickers. The boy put up his hood and hung his head. He remained sullen for much of the day.

Unfortunately, these kinds of stories aren’t rare in our house, and–given the recent suicides resulting from bullying incidents–are obviously far too common everywhere. While bullying is obviously a huge problem, perhaps not all of the solutions need to be.

Like most of us, I remember clearly what it was like to feel unsure of myself, to question whether I was liked or even likable, and to feel as though everyone else was in on some secret that nobody shared with me. Heck, I still feel like that sometimes.

I also know what a huge difference just a few sincere, kind words can make.

When Grace shares stories like this with me, I try to focus on what she did or could have done to help the bullied child feel good about him/herself. As a parent we often tend to focus on the negative behavior of the bullies to ensure that our children understand that the behavior is unacceptable. The child being bullied can be overlooked.

Obviously kids need to be taught that bullying is wrong and should be punished for doing so. But what if we changed it around a bit and instead of focusing on what not to do, we encourage kids to do something else? Something more positive? What if we encourage them to pay at least one compliment every single day? Commit to compliment.

If everyone of us paid at least one compliment to someone else each day, we could brighten the days of 365 people over the course of year. And, I suspect that as this becomes a habit, we could easily offer more than one compliment each day.

As kids (and all of us) struggle to feel good about ourselves, it’s far too easy to bring someone else down in order to boost ourselves up. Easy, but not very effective. In the end, we all feel bad about ourselves.

Complimenting others not only boosts those receiving compliments. Recognizing the positive in others helps us to see it in ourselves.

As for the boy from Grace’s school, he kept the hood on most of the day. When he finally took it off, Grace and a couple of her classmates told him his haircut looked awesome. The boy perked up and Grace said she may have even seen the start of a smile.

So, today and everyday, Grace and I have committed to paying at least one compliment. Will you join us? Commit to compliment.

Be well.

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