Welcome to No Name-Calling Week, which spans January 20-24 this year. First organized in 2004 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and GLSEN, No Name-Calling Week was inspired by James Howe’s novel The Misfits, a novel in which students run for student council on a No Name-Calling platform after frequently experiencing name-calling themselves.
No Name-Calling Week emphasizes not only ending bullying and name-calling, but actively replacing harshness with kindness #KindnessinAction. In our blog this week, we’re reflecting on some strategies to practice kindness toward others and toward yourself!
1 – Notice people’s strengths (and tell them!)
We live in a judgement-forward world. Part of that is the way our brains are naturally wired to sort information, and part of it is because of the choices we make to categorize our experiences, information, and people around us. Typically, we make negative judgments first. Historically, this tendency might have helped us stay safe in a world that held frequent physical dangers. However, it can now limit, divide, and harm us. This week, make a commitment to focus on people’s strengths, and tell them what you see! Did your child do their homework without being asked? Tell them you noticed their responsibility! Did your coworker complete a complicated project? Tell them you noticed their focus and commitment! Is your partner checking in with you about how your day goes? Tell them you notice their efforts to connect! Letting people know that we see their efforts and intentions helps them feel good, and it can help us feel good, too.
2 – Listen to the people around you
Ask people how they’re doing and take the time to listen! A theme I hear often in my work is that we have hundreds of ways to stay connected, and people still feel incredibly alone. A simple and powerful kindness is taking the time to connect with those around you. Maybe you share a smile, a funny exchange, or a heavy experience, but stay present in that moment. Be intentional. Let someone know you see them by giving them the gift of listening.
3 – Practice saying “No”
For those of us who are people-pleasers, this one is HARD. But saying “no” can be an act of kindness and love toward ourselves. When our lives and schedules become overfull, we lose the ability to focus on what really matters. When we pour little bits of ourselves and our energy reserves into a million little tasks, we run out of energy to invest into our relationships, our health, and our own needs. And that hurts everyone around us. So, next time someone asks if you can help organize the team retreat, or whatever other task is on the agenda, remember it’s okay to say “No.”
4 – Only refer to yourself using kind words
You are your own worst critic. It’s a popular saying, and it’s grounded in truth. During No Name-Calling Week, challenge yourself to extend “No name-calling” to yourself, as well. That means practicing self-compassion, honoring your humanity, and acknowledging that you can have a bad day without being an inherently bad person. You’re trying your best. You’re doing what you can. You are on a journey, and becoming your ideal self doesn’t happen overnight.
We’d love to hear about the ways you infuse kindness in your week and your life! Leave us a comment on our FB or IG page!
If you’d like some additional No Name-Calling Week resources to share with your parents, teen, friends, teacher, classroom, or principal, you can check out the following resources:
Anti-Defamation League Resources
Education World Resources