TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle MapsEmail

Create healthy anti-bullying habits early

photo+(17)Helping your child be “bully – proof” goes in two directions.  Of course we do not want our child to be the target of bullying nor do we want them to be the one who is aggressive toward others.  Our own habits as parents have an impact on our children as to whether they will become aggressive or if they will shrink back and become a target.  Consider the following;

Imagine seeing one child chiding another with saying, “na-na-na-na-”, teasing or just being mean.  I can imagine that they learned to do that from other children, or even their parents teasing them – pushing them beyond good natured teasing into a taunt.  Being aware of how far we go as a parent or seeing this happen and not letting it go is a good start – asking ourselves or them to focus on how such actions might feel to the child on the receiving end of such teasing.  Now they may become obstinate about how the child might feel, but our job is to help them to learn that this does not feel good when it continues for too long of a time.

Just as important as it is to stop negative behavior, it is even more important to encourage positive behavior.  Teaching them to be kind, to show empathy and be fair are all critical skills for good relationships with others.  Teaching empathy may begin by observing others and asking them how do they think the person feels.  They will learn to read the emotions of others by the facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and other signs.  Using real people and television characters are all ways of teaching without it being about them – or personal to them.  You may always refer back to the third party person later when you are talking about a behavior you would like to change in them.

On the other side of the issue is teaching our children to be assertive – learning to use their voice – saying “no” firmly.  I call it using their “bad dog” voice when asking someone to stop doing something that is hurtful, physically or verbally.  Role playing and letting them practice using their voice is key to their ability to do so.  It does not come natural and many children have grown so used to being asked to be quiet – that when asked to be assertive it is very hard for them to do so.
Creating these habits in children should begin at an early age – kindergarten at the least, if they are to avoid being the victim of or become the aggressor.  Giving them these skills, will grow their confidence and feeling good about themselves as they face different situations as they are growing older.

Share

Solving anxiety and bullying for our students

anxious childIt makes sense that if our child is experiencing aggressive behavior at school that they would also experience more anxiety than others might be experiencing.  If our child starts behaving anxiously, we will want to determine if there is bullying taking place somewhere in there life.  Bullying is not the only reason for anxiety, but certainly it can affect our children.  In fact some say that that if a child is dealing with anxiety they are at greater risk of becoming a target of bullying.

There have been studies that have shown that those who have been bullied, both overtly and relationally, have shown higher levels of anxiety.  This would be those who are threatened with or experienced physical harm or those that have experienced threats regarding peer relationships.  In both male and female students – both have heightened anxiety levels.

Of all of the different ways that students victimize or target others the one behavior – name calling – that has the strongest affect on young men (teens) is being called “gay”.  The use of this term – continually, with intent to harm, and with a difference in power – has the most dramatic affect on young men in creating anxiety for them in life.

On the other side of this, those that receive moderate support from their peers also seem to fair better when it comes to anxiety and dealing with aggression.  My take on this is the need we have as a society – a culture – is to make it not acceptable to call names, not acceptable to act aggressively towards others, to be KIND.   What if when someone in a school called a classmate a name, others stood up for them saying, “in our school – we do not treat others like that”.

Balanced Life Skills is working at creating a culture of peace for our students, families, schools and community.  Join us if you believe in the practice of respect for each other.

Share

Will you know if your child is being picked on?

How would you know if your child is the target of bullying?  Most of the time your child will not announce it to you, out of fear of embarrassment, belief that they can or must take of the situation or out of fear of retaliation.  Parents and teachers  need to be aware of changes in the attitude or conduct of a child so we can take action.

DistressIf we see a pattern develop with a child of being more anxious, especially about particular situations, there may be something happening that is not comfortable for them.  If they become anxious about going to school, scouts, a sport activity or any place where there are others around – they may be experiencing some aggression.  Please remember it need not be from just other young people.  There may be an adult that makes them uncomfortable.  I have seen this happen with adults (teachers / coaches) where a child was being treated with sarcasm that caused anxiety and academic issues.

Other ways of telling a child may be a target of aggression, include depression, sadness, or safety concerns.  Anytime there is a change in the personality, just be aware and take extra time with your child to talk.  What should you ask?  How do you approach this conversation?

Most of the time asking if they are getting picked on in school is not going to get a response that helps you understand what is happening.  Neither is asking how it is going in school today.  You most likely will get the “fine” answer or the “good” comment.  Our conversation must be ongoing, general  giving them the opportunity to feel safe telling us / without telling us.  Here is what I mean.

Children are not going to be in a rush to embarrass themselves by telling us that they are having relationship issues in school.  On a daily basis – know your child and who their friends are.  Do not interrogate, but ask questions that you can put the pieces together.  If you know that a child typically plays with Sally and then all of a sudden Sally is no longer in the picture – then that is a warning sign that there may be some relationship issues.
jw4Without becoming Jack Webb (do you remember that show?)  we can learn what is on their mind.  What to do at that point is the subject of a seminar I do for parents titled “What to do if your child is being bullied?”  This includes how to deal with your child, the school system (public or private) and with the parents of the aggressor.

If you have a specific issue I am available as an advocate or consultant in this subject.

Share

We are aware – Now we need to change

In NJ there has been an incident of hazing that has rocked the community.  There are still some on both sides of the story, some accepting it as a part of ‘team’, and some still afraid to speak out openly.  Here is our take on this situation.

Hazing is bullying.  Bullying is abuse and while it is good to hear that it is being recognized as such, the idea that the students in this latest incident “tolerated and in general accepted” this culture and behaviors – it tells us that is was also tolerated and accepted by the adults in the school.

At this point those who have been targeted with the hazing are still afraid to voice their grievances out loud.  On Sunday night this particular community is gathering for an anti-bullying community event to raise awareness in the community and “to help in the healing process”.   Here is my take on this:

We are already aware.

We are aware that bullying in not acceptable.  No one thinks it is an acceptable behavior, especially when it is happening to them or to their child.  Generally very few people have stepped up to change anything until there is a major incident like this one that has affected them personally.

We are awareWe are aware.
There are enough posters.  
There are enough sayings.
There are enough laws and rules.  

What we have not done is change culture.  Until we change the culture in our schools, with everyone – parents, administrators, teachers, students – we will continue to have these kind of incidents.  All of us determined to create a culture of peace in our schools and  communities can be very powerful

Share

What do you have the courage to do when you see bullying?

This week in our self defense class we are working on the question,

“What would you do if… You see someone being bullied?

There are many ways that you could react – but the real question is what do you have the courage to do?

  • Do you have the courage to avoid joining in with the name calling or laughing at the target of the aggressive behavior?  Or is it easier and feel safer to be a part of the crowd?
  • Do you have the courage to report to an adult?  Or are you afraid of being called a snitch?
  • Do you have the courage to tell the bully to STOP!  Or are you afraid of being turned on and becoming the target?
  • Do you have the courage to request your friends to stand up to the aggressor?  Or are you afraid of being made fun of not going along with the group?
  • Do you have the courage to support and befriend the target or victim of the bullying? Or are you afraid of losing other friends?friendship

All of these actions require different levels of courage.  All of the parent’s or teacher’s we must remember that, all of these actions are doable if there is a culture in the classroom and school or in the family and community that requires kindness be shown to each other.

Balanced Life Skills  is teaching our students to say:

“STOP! In our school we do not treat each other like that!”

We could also say, “In our family” or “in our community”, or “on our team we do not……”

The practice of kindness, the recognition of the value of each other is what respect is built on.  Respect is the ability to see and celebrate the VALUE in ourselves and others and behave accordingly.  We should not be demanding “behaviors” if we are not also helping all in our community and families to see and celebrate the value of all people.

Share