Bullying Prevention Lesson Plan: Reprogram Your Brain
This lesson has students engage in an envisioning exercise that builds confidence in the face of bullying and supports healthy self-esteem.
- reflect on the words of a real student who was bullied and still maintained a sense of confidence and pride
- further bully-proof themselves by envisioning their most “confident selves”
- understand that regularly envisioning their confident selves can strengthen them from the inside out
Tell students that it’s possible to be bullied and still manage to keep an attitude of confidence inside oneself. Read aloud the following story, reported by a fifth-grade girl, to illustrate this:
“I get bullied because of my lisp. This boy used to call me ‘tongue-talker.’ Every time I saw him, he made fun of me. It made me want to cry, but I didn’t. Even though I felt mad, sad, and stressed, I figured out that when people bully you, you shouldn’t listen to them or believe what they say. At all times, be yourself and believe in yourself.”
Ask: What did this student learn from the experience of being bullied? What were some of the feelings the student had at first? What does she know that helps her cope confidently? Discuss briefly.
Tell students that the dignity and confidence this girl expressed are possible for everyone, and the exercise you’re going to take them through right now will help build it.
Lead students in three rounds of slow, deep abdominal breathing. Ask why this kind of breathing is so important to do. (It calms the body and mind and helps us focus.)
Have students close their eyes. Read the following in a slow, calm, soothing voice:
Take another slow, deep breath, all the way down. Hold the breath inside yourself for a few seconds. (Pause.) Now let it out very slowly. Continue breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine that your mind is a blank movie screen. If any thoughts come up as I’m speaking, put them on a cloud, and let the cloud float the thoughts away. Then bring your mind back to the blank movie screen.
Project onto the screen of your mind an image of yourself. See yourself looking wonderful! You are happy, confident, strong, and proud. See yourself standing tall and smiling. You’re filled with confidence and happiness. (Pause.)
Picture yourself feeling completely respected and cared for. Let those good feelings go directly into your heart and mind. Take another slow, deep breath as you bring feelings of self-care, confidence, and respect deeper inside yourself.
Now, if there’s anyone who has ever hurt you, past or present, see yourself confidently walking over to that person. You are fully in charge. Tell that person whatever you need to say. Say it with strength, confidence, and respect. (Pause.)
Now see yourself walking away with your head held high. You are filled with pride and confidence. You will always have the power to be an upstander for yourself, because you know just what to do, and you deserve respect.
Pause a moment; then have students open their eyes. Ask how the envisioning was for them. Discuss. If any students had difficulty envisioning, or if negative thoughts intruded, remind them that the more they practice this the easier it becomes—the more they focus on the image of themselves that they envision today, the more calm and confident they will feel. It’s like learning any other new skill.
End by telling students to practice this process every night before going to sleep. Doing so can reprogram their brains, helping them feel proud, confident, and empowered under any challenging cir- cumstance. Remind students that this can help them deal with all aspects of bullying.
Have students draw pictures of their most confident self, and write a statement of affirmation expressing their confidence and pride. Have them write in present tense. (For example: “I am happy and filled with confidence,” or “I know exactly how to handle any challenge that comes my way.”)
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