The Solution to Bullying Begins with Kindness
“Be kind to unkind people. They often need it the most.”

Bullying is a catchall phrase for behavior that results when children (and adults) have no other way to express their pain, anger and frustration than by taking it out on someone else.  And, as study after study has shown, it’s not just the bullies and their victims who require help, but those who are passive onlookers and those who support cultures where bullies flourish. In other words, we all have a hand in creating, and must actively work to put a stop, to bullying.

The solution to bullying, and its many forms (gossip, teasing, name-calling, cyber-attacks, ostracism, etc.) lies in our innate capacity for empathy and kindness. According to Dr. Richard Davidson (the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison), children are born “good.” Davidson compares this innate propensity for kindness to our inborn capacity for language. In order for children to develop language they must be immersed in and have plenty of opportunities to practice their language skills. The same is true for empathy, kindness and compassion.

Exercising Children’s Emotional Muscles
 Lead with Your Heart is both a book and a series of creative activities that allow students to experience, discuss and express the many and complex emotions and situations involved with bullying.  The book revolves around the heartwarming story of a misunderstood pit bull and a very shy little girl named Reny. Together, with the help of friends, family, and a goofy pack of mixed breed dogs, they confront and overcome the challenges of being misjudged and bullied.

The adventure begins when Lance is adopted by Reny’s family and must learn to be an “inside dog.” He and the quiet little girl become buddies when Lance tries to help Reny overcome her anxiety about school where she is being teased and bullied. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Lance has problems of his own. Big, black and tough-looking, Lance often frightens people who don’t know him. He is thrust into the limelight of a bigger problem when Mrs. Krutch, a grown-up who bullies, introduces a law to ban pit bulls from the town.

It takes a petition signing campaign, an appearance at city hall by everyone involved, and an act of courage by Reny to defeat the proposed law. In the end, it is Reny’s ability to lead with her heart and speak her truth that overcomes Mrs. Krutch’s fear and reminds everyone not to judge a book by its cover.

How to Experience Lead with Your Heart

Individual Classroom Visits
Age Level: K – 6
Time: approximately 45 to 60 minutes
Delivery Method: Virtual classroom visit via Zoom – a live video conferencing platform.
Lesson Outline

  • Introduction of Jena and CritterKin (animals are family)
  • Introduction of key vocabulary: pit bull, shy, being different
  • Active Reading from Lead with Your Heart
  • Discussion of the story and what was learned
  • Creative Activity that allows students to express what it means to be kind
  • Show and tell: Students share what they’ve created

Materials: Paper, pencils, erasers, colored pencils or Crayons and a good internet connection

A Pinterest board will be created where photos and scans of the students work can be posted. Teachers will have access to the board so they can build and grow the collection as well.

Cost: $300 + purchase of a class set of the print version of Lead with Your Heart
Note: A 20% discount off the books is offered when more than one visit is scheduled

To Order the Book:

For More Information or to Schedule a Visit
Twitter: @Jenaiamorane
Phone: (919) 454 – 9917

Copyright 2016 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.