End Bullying

End Bullying

I just had to share this wonderful excerpt from Una Spenser’s online dairy.  You’ll see why:

Apparently, Korax, the class bully, had finally gotten around to Zuna. It’s a Montessori classroom and quite often the children work sitting on mats on the floor. Zuna was sitting on the floor when Korax came over and stomped on her leg.


In response, Zuna looked him in the eye and demanded to know, “Why did you do that?!” She wouldn’t let him walk away without answering her question. The high energy conversation caught the attention of the teacher and they were taken to a room for reconciliation.


In the room, Zuna told the teacher what had happened and said that she wanted to know why Korax had stomped on her. She wouldn’t allow the conversation to continue until he answered. Finally, Korax said, “I didn’t like the way you spoke to me before. It was bossy.”


Zuna replied, “So, why didn’t you just tell me you didn’t like it?”


Korax pouted with arms crossed and furrowed brows for a bit. Zuna pressed the question over and over until he mumbled, chin to chest, eyes toward the floor, “because I didn’t think you would listen to me.”


Zuna reached out, gently rested her hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye and said, “I promise that if you have something to say, I’ll listen, if you promise not to hurt me.”


Silence. But she kept her hand gently resting on his shoulder. Until he looked up and said, “Okay, I promise. I didn’t like that bossy way you talked to me.”


Zuna replied, “Ok.”


Then she said, “Korax, I don’t think you want to be so mean. I don’t think you’re mad. I think you’re sad.” And she gave him a big hug. She held him until he hugged back.


Though Korax continued to struggle with his bullying tendencies, he and Zuna were great friends after that. He never hurt her again. Even after he left the school, he continued to come to her birthday parties and it was like a grand reunion.


The teacher said he had never seen anything like it.

Parents and teachers who regularly practice saying what they see, frequently see this kind of compassionate interaction because children naturally do what we do.

When more of us speak frankly with children, more children will speak frankly with each other.  When more of  us focus on understanding instead of punishing children, more children will focus on understanding instead of punishing each other.

SAY WHAT YOU SEE, offer CAN DOs, find STRENGTHs — end bullying.

P.S.  Donna Goertz’ book, Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful, is another great resource that demonstrates the power of adults modeling the desired behaviors for children in the classroom – also Montessori. (Click the book cover on our recommended reading page if you would like to buy it from Amazon and give us credit.)


  1. David Weiner |

    Yes. This suggests techniques for counselors and assistant principal’s to develop at middle and high schools as well. Turning the focus from “how dare you do that,” to “why did you do that?” — While setting very clear boundaries on what behavior is allowed. I imagine that had the stomper in this story been unable to respond, teaching staff would have intervened with a boundary.

    • David, Thanks for bringing that up. I think asking “Why?” with the intention of understanding not accusing was what allowed the child to respond. The same is true of teens and people of all ages.

      As for the teaching staff intervening, if this school is like the one I often work with (Austin Montessori School), most of the time they wouldn’t need to, since social skills for working together peacefully and respectfully are taught from a very young age. My biggest surprise in reading Una’s article was that the teacher was surprised.

  2. Julia Kurskaya |

    I love this story! Thank you for sharing, Sandy!

  3. Julia,

    Thank you for letting me know you loved it.

    This kind of resolution is absolutely possible when children are taught to see themselves and each other through their
    STRENGTHs. Instead of assuming he was a bully, Zuna knew Korax would have some kind of reason for doing what he did, because that’s not who he really is. And she knew the solution could be found in that reason!

    I look forward to the day when this kind of interaction is no longer a surprise but is seen as normal!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *