As parents, we want our kids to be safe. We make sure their seatbelts are fastened when they’re in a car and their helmets are on when they ride a bike. We have them practice safety drills at school and check their candy before they eat it. Rarely, do we focus on safety in their relationships. But, according to the One Love Foundation—which works to end abuse by educating and empowering young adults to affect change in their communities—1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience a violent relationship in his or her lifetime.
Boys’ Latin School, in partnership with the One Love Foundation, is on a mission to change that statistic with One Laker | One Love—a day dedicated to empathy, emotional awareness, and healthy relationship building.
I spoke with Boys’ Latin school counselors Shirelle Flowers and Megan Kenney about the event and how parents can help their little ones learn about healthy relationships at home.
Tell me about the One Laker | One Love Day at Boys’ Latin?
Shirelle Flowers (SF): In the lower school we really focus on empathy and kindness. Our 3rd through 5th graders are watching Wonder. Our students in kindergarten through second grade are reading the book, We’re All Wonders. We’re focusing on kindness and walking other people’s shoes
Have you noticed any changes since One Love Day began?
SF: Yes. There’s a willingness to be more open to talking about feelings and relationships.
Megan Kenney (MK): Every year, we have at least one student say it was really helpful and helped them step in to help a friend.
What’s the response been like from parents?
MK: They’re grateful that we’re having this conversation. They’re super supportive.
Speaking of parents, any tips on how to talk about healthy relationships with our little ones?
SK: You know your child best, so start with where they are and listen to what they have to say. Empathy is a learned skill and needs to be practiced. And if there’s something you’re concerned about, talk to your child’s school counselor. You can also get tips and information on the One Love website. There’s also the Wonder and Choose Kind websites as well.
MK: Many parents feel like it’s uncharted territory and they get nervous. With younger kids, it’s about modeling. So much of what they learn is based on what they see. If they see you’re comfortable talking about these things, they’ll feel comfortable.
What’s a good way to strike up a conversation about healthy relationships?
SF: Ask questions like, How many friends are they going to help today? Who did you help today and what did you do? Did you see anyone help someone today? It helps them start thinking about other people.
MK: Developmentally young kids are very literal. Their emotional intelligence is still developing so keep things very simple. Focus on messages like not solving problems with their hands.
SF: And if you get stuck there’s no harm in saying, “I’ll think about that and get back to you.”
MK: Right. Remember you don’t have to have all the answers.
This article is part of our school partner profile series. To learn more about The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, visit their profile in our independent school directory. To learn more about the One Love Foundation, which honors the life of Baltimore native, Yeardley Love, please visit joinonelove.org. Photos by Laura Black.