Anyone who has read the news lately, knows there’s a lot of talk about bullying in schools. If bullying is defined as being cruelly teased. I think a majority of adults can think of at least one bad day they had as a schoolkid.

The tween years are difficult years. Many kids are changing from the safety of elementary school/one teacher to a usually much-large middle school/variety of classes. Many tweens have outgrown that cute child stage and now are at that awkward in-between stage before they become put-together teens. (Well, not all of them, but you know what I mean.)  And of course, chaotic hormones don’t help.

When teasing/bullying is added to this, you often have kids who continually struggle with low self-esteem, self-consciousness and despair.

As adults, we need to be aware of this. The Bible tells us over and over that we are to encourage each other. Both 1 and 2 Thessalonians have several verses on encouragement, as do 1 and 2 Timothy. In Titus 2, we read that we are to encourage the young to be self-controlled.

Of course, these verses mean to encourage each other as adults, but they also apply to our relationship to the kids in our lives (as shown in the Titus 2 chapter.)

And, you would think that anyone who works with tweens would know that encouraging kids takes some extra sensitivity to who they are and where they are in life.

Why then would a school system hand out an award to a fifth grader that says “certificate of achievement for being a good steward in the bathroom, for picking up toilet paper from the floor and the sink?”

And why would they hand out such an award at a school assembly?

Yes, this actually happened to a fifth grader I know. I have a picture of the award, but did not want to post it since the certificate includes her name and picture.

Now, I will say, that she has a good group of friends who did not tease her, so no harm done, but can you imagine if this award was given to someone who already was picked on by cruel classmates? Can you see them draping toilet paper on the child’s locker or even TPing the child’s home? Can you imagine the cruel comments that could be directed at him/her for being a good steward of toilet paper?

I am not someone who believes we need to shelter kids from bad experiences, but at the same time, I don’t think we need to go out of our way to set up situations for kids to be hurt.

Let’s be thoughtful of the children in our lives. Let’s encourage and not set up opportunities for the child to become discouraged. Let’s show God’s love to them by being encouragers.