Archive for November, 2011

Girls Not as Nice as Sugar and Spice

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Check out this news story from “across the pond:”  Friendship & Other Weapons is featured in an article in the Irish Independent newspaper!

http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/parenting/girls-not-as-nice-as-sugar-and-spice-2947208.html

Fine! Whatever! 8 Passive Aggressive Phrases Everyone Should Know

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Do you ever feel like you are riding on an emotional roller coaster with your child? Is your little one friendly and sweet one day, then sulky and withdrawn the next? Does your teenager consistently procrastinate, postpone, stall and shut down any emotionally-charged conversation? Do you, as a parent, ever resemble that same portrait? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are good that passive aggressive behavior has found a way into your home and family.

 

Check out my article in the Huffington Post Parents section to learn about eight of the most common passive aggressive phrases and to figure out if “sugarcoated hostility” exists in your home and family.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/signe-whitson/passive-aggressive-phrases_b_1116025.html

The Nail in the Fence: A Story about the Scars Left by Words Said in Anger

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This story, most recently posted on Sue Atkins’ (The Parenting Expert) website, reminds me of an activity I recently posted that teaches kids about the impact of bullying words.  The basic message of “The Nail in the Fence” is the same: words can wound, so use them with care. 

If you are living or working with kids and teaching important lessons about anger management, this is a great read:

 

The Nail in the Fence

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.

Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”

Jane Lynch on Being an Advocate for Bullied Kids

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If you haven’t seen it yet, please go to my Facebook page to check out Jane Lynch’s amazing, spot-on anti-bullying video.  My favorite part:

 

“Bullying makes children feel like they want to be invisible.  Let’s let them know that we see them, we are listening, and they can count on us to make their lives better.”

The Role of Compassion in Stopping Bullying

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My heart is heavy after reading this story about Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year old child who hung herself.  According to her parents, Ashlynn was relentlessly bullied in school.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/ashlynn-conner-ten-year-o_n_1092683.html?1321290598&icid=maing-grid10|htmlws-main-bb|dl3|sec1_lnk3|112386

 

I always wonder about the bully and what motivates someone to be relentlessly cruel.  I ache for kids like Ashlynn who are hopeless, and see no light at the end of the tunnel.  And I think about all of the other kids in her world who knew about the aggression she was facing. 

Even having written a book on the subject, I don’t pretend to have any simple answers about how to stop bullying.  It’s a complicated problem and intervention has to occur on multiple levels.  That’s jargon for: we’ve got a LOT of work to do!  What I do know, though, is that fostering compassion is one of the most important missing links when it comes to creating a climate in which bullying becomes unacceptable.

In this recent HuffingtonPost article, I wrote about 7 ways that parents and nurturing adults can help kids become more compassionate.  I think it’s a mistake to assume that kids are either compassionate or they’re not.  Big hearts can be nurtured and compassionate kids hold a critically important key in creating cultures where bullying is not tolerated.

Whenever I talk with groups of kids about bullying, I share this mantra: It is never OK to do nothing about bullying. I have kids repeat the phrase.  I encourage them to shout it.  Sometimes, we see if the whole building can hear us!  I want kids to remember this truism.

Today, after reading Ashlynn’s story, another set of words–this time from Albert Einstein–are echoing in my head:

“The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”    
 
  

What Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Children from Bullying

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With just 3 days left before the publication of Friendship & Other Weapons, please check out this HuffingtonPost article on helping kids develop a positive future orientation:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/signe-whitson/coping-with-bullying_b_1089911.html

Turning Bystanders Into Heroes

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Try this activity to help kids understand how important their role as a bystander–er, HERO, is in a bullying situation.

Give a child 5 wooden craft sticks.

Ask him to write his name on the first one. Then, tell him to break the stick. The task should be easy.

Emphasize that on our own, we are breakable.

Next, ask each child to write down the names of three people who they know they can count on for friendship and support, on three of the remaining sticks. It can be a parent, family member, friend, or even a pet.

On the remaining craft stick, ask the child to write something that they are good at, such as a sport, art, or even being a good friend to others.

Have the child stack his four sticks, one on top of the other, then challenge him to again try to break the sticks. This time, the task should be impossible.

When I do this activity with kids, usually in schools or troop settings–the expressions on the their faces as they realize the strength of the stacked sticks is priceless every time. I know my point has been made. But I say it anyway:

 

“When you support one another, and have confidence in your own abilities, you become unbreakable. Keep these craft sticks as a reminder of how strong you truly are!”

 

My other reminder/mantra to kids, when we talk about bullying and bystanding, is that it is never OK to do nothing about bullying I have kids repeat the phrase.  I encourage them to shout it.  Sometimes, we see if the whole building can hear us!  I want kids to remember this truism.

This week, in light of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University, it seems especially important.

 

For more ideas and activites to help kids cope with bullying, please check out Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying, available November 15, 2011.

 

 

Teaching Compassion to Kids

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Experts agree that fostering compassion in young people is among the best ways to prevent verbal, physical, and emotional bullying.  Check out my post on Psychology Today, featuring seven ways to help develop compassion as a character trait and behavioral style in your child:

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201111/teaching-compassion-kids

Great Stop-Bullying Exercise for School Counselors & Teachers

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A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said… they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Copy and paste if you would like to stop bullying.

Great Stop-Bullying Exercise for School Counselors & Teachers

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A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said… they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Copy and paste if you would like to stop bullying.

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