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Why Bullying Behaviors are Often Mislabeled

Inclusion, Exclusion and Wonderland

Being a good friend to oneself and to others is most often a learned skill and as with any new skill, not without it's challenges. Consider social interactions as falling into lands Inclusive Land, Exclusive Land

and biggest of all, Wonder Land *

Inclusive and Exclusive though polar opposites in how they are experienced actually have shared norms including:

  • Intentionality

  • Consistency in word, action, body language, digital (emojis), tone of voice

  • Rarely being confused

Wonderland is more difficult to navigate with behaviors including:

  • Unintentionality

  • Inconsistency between word, action, body language, digital, tone of voice

  • Almost always confused

Think of them as a number line with "Inclusive" being 1-2, "Wonder Land" being 3-8 and "Exclusive" as 9-10

Consistently truly inclusive behaviors are not that frequent. The same is true for exclusive behaviors. As kids grow and develop they need to try on different qualities of friendships and as such most are not able to sustain being truly inclusive or exclusive all of the time.

The most consistent are those behaviors falling in “Wonderland*” Wonderland is a terrifically murky place where words, body language, tone of voice, digital communication and actions are not consistent. Considering we “read” nonverbal cues far more than verbal cues this can be very confusing to navigate. Because of this confusion kids (and adults) often want to move kids from Wonderland to Exclusive World. However, given the descriptors of Wonderland characteristics of unintentionality and inconsistent they do not fit in exclusion.

Qualifying a child as exclusive is an important decision and deserves the full weight of a response therefore it must be used appropriately.

We ask your help in supporting this ongoing activity and therefore have included the working definitions we are using to guide our discussions and actions. These are the terms we are using in the classroom with the children in our ongoing class discussions.

Including, Wonderland and Excluding


generally means friends seek out others for conversation,

activities, games, enjoyment and company. People who are being inclusive

may use words such as "do you want to play?" "I would like your help"

"This would be fun to do together". Someone who is including others will

often have a smile, speak when facing the person he or she is talking to and uses a pleasant voice. Inclusive actions are something we like to see at school and in life.

Wonderland is the hardest to define. Wonderland behaviors are not intended to be mean and often done because friends aren't noticing each other such as not asking someone to join you, perhaps you have asked for a minute alone with only one other person or you made previous plans with someone. When we are not including others, we often are not looking around because we are focused on the person in front of us, we don't have a mean voice but most often are not thinking about how we may make someone else feel. While not including others is not a mean thing to do, it can hurt feelings and that

should be acknowledged. We should gently ask friends to be included and

should be welcomed when we do so.

Excluding is something we do to make sure others know we do not want them to be part of what we are doing. People who are being exclusive may say "I don't want you to play", "I don't want you to be my friend", "You can't

come to my birthday party." When someone is being exclusive they often

have a frown, their body may be turned away, they may speak over their

shoulder and have a hard or loud voice. Consistent with the Lower School rule "You can't say you can't play", exclusive behavior is not allowed at school. This does not mean you have to be good friends with everyone but does mean you can not tell them they can not play.

*Thank you, Friends Meeting School for naming the land!

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