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Home page: http://www.signewhitson.com
Posts by signewhitson
Got a kid who can’t—or won’t—assert herself around others? Highlights Magazine interviewed me, Dr. Michele Borba, and Dr. Kristin Buss for strategies on how to help passive young people find their voices. Check out our responses using the link below and at the “Smart Answer to Parents’ Toughest Questions” section on Highlights.com
For more information on helping your child move beyond passivity, aggression, or passive aggression and on to more assertive communication, check out the activities, games and discussion ideas in How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids & Teens.
Looking for ideas to help prepare your child, tween, or teen to successfully navigate challenging peer dynamics, conflict, and bullying? Check out what readers–including this School Psychologist and Mom of 3–are saying about the 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource
By: Amazon Customeron August 18, 2017
I LOVE this book! As a school psychologist and mother of 3, ages 11-16, this is an incredible resource. The book is divided into 8 “Keys” in order to learn what bullying behavior looks like, how to deal with it, and how to be an advocate to end it. There are realistic examples with opportunities for kids to process how they would handle each situation, in addition to answer keys and clear cut phrases/actions that kids could use if put into similar situations. I particularly loved that the author included a chapter on how our brains work in stress situations, using simple enough language for young ones to understand the difference between the limbic system (which controls our emotional response) and pre-frontal cortex (our thinking brain). I highly recommend this book to educators and parents of kids and tweens in order to help their children learn healthy ways to navigate their social worlds.
Today, I share a Guest Post from Laura Pearson, a Mom who writes about her experiences supporting her son after the family’s move to a new town:
Moving to a new town and attending a new school can be one of the hardest things your child will experience before entering adulthood. They will have to leave all of their friends, teachers and familiar places behind before completely readjusting to something new.
An article published by Psychology Today claims that children who have recently moved can exhibit poor performance in school, bad behavior, drug abuse, and many other maladies. On top of all of that, things like cyberbullying the “new kid” can be rampant.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, nearly 28 percent of middle schoolers and high schoolers experienced cyberbullying between May of 2007 and August of 2016. PBS reports that nearly 1 in 3 kids say they’ve experienced cyberbullying.
But what exactly is cyberbullying, anyway?
According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), cyber bullying is similar to other types of bullying, except that it takes place online over emails and text messages. Some examples of cyberbullying include: sending someone mean or threatening emails, instant messages or text messages; tricking someone into revealing personal information and sending it to others; and creating a website to make fun of another person. Unlike in-person bullying, cyberbullying can take place 24 hours a day, even when your child is alone.
A 2015 article by Scientific American confirmed a direct correlation between cyberbullying and an increased likelihood of depression among children. There have even been instances in the news where a child was cyber bullied to such an extent that they took their own lives.
So what can we do to help our child if they are being cyber bullied?
For parents, it is important to know what sites your child is visiting and to understand who they are interacting with. According to stopbullying.gov, this is the first step for parents to take in order to prevent cyberbullying before it starts. Establishing rules with your children about what sites they visit and what activities they engage in can help eliminate potentially harmful conditions.
The best thing for your child to do if they are being cyber bullied is to not respond to the attacks of a cyber bully and to block them using the privacy features of your E-Mail or messaging. Any response to the bully from your child can be easily circulated and prolong the confrontation. Be sure to save all bullying emails and texts, and send them to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Remember that bullying and cyberbullying can be a crime if they are threatened with violence or harassed based on their gender or race. Although technology provides another avenue for children to be bullied, it also provides accurate records and features that can yield an effective defense against it, legally or otherwise.
It is also beneficial to create a stress-free home environment for your child if they are experiencing cyber bullying, especially after moving to a new place. Start off by creating stability in your new home that your child can come to rely on, such as a weekly game nights or pizza every Friday. Try to de-clutter your home environment and make it organized so that your child knows where everything is if they need it. It is also helpful to foster clear and loving communication with your child in your home so that they know they have a safe haven from any sort of bullying or negativity, and so that they can share with you when something is wrong. In many instances, children will feel embarrassed and not want to share the fact that they are being bullied.
By being aware of your child’s online activity and having open communication about what to do if they are being bullied online, parents can help their children thrive after moving to a new town or city.
“Connecting with each student is very important to me,” the science teacher explained. “Tapping into what makes them excited … what makes them come to life … is my goal,” he explained.”
This terrific article from Hands Free Mama offers a simple, genius strategy that all educators and counselors can use to genuinely connect with students. Remember, real learning occurs only in the context of trusting & supportive relationships.
Bullying among school-aged children is a pervasive problem in the United States. If there was a magic wand, one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, it would have been suggested and implemented long ago. You wouldn’t be thinking about it and I wouldn’t be writing about it. Bringing an end to bullying involves comprehensive school culture shifts as well as convincing young people (and the adults in their lives!) to use social power fairly and justly, at all times. Changing human dynamics, as we all know, is neither easy nor swift.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that time-consuming, complicated solutions are trumped each and every day by the small, powerful acts that trustworthy adults can use to signal to individual kids that their dignity is paramount and that their safety will be prioritized.
At the risk of oversimplifying a very complex issue among young people, but at the hope of creating a go-to roadmap for educators, counselors, youth workers, and parents, this article I just posted on PsychologyToday offers 6 simple strategies for upgrading our approach to bullying in schools. Please check it out and share with professionals and parents who are looking for guidance in this area.
All week long, I have been reading and re-reading a poem on a card on my desk. You may have heard it:
A wise old owl sat in an oak.
The more he saw, the less he spoke.
The less her spoke, the more he heard.
Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?
Then, I found this on Facebook. It. Is. Brilliant.
My very favorite lines: “And then I listen. And then I change.”
Please check out the full cartoon at http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe
Ok, friends, so, go easy on me! This is my first YouTube video. I can comfortably stand in front of a group of 1,000 people and talk about how to help young people understand and manage bullying…but recording myself on video is a WHOLE. DIFFERENT. STORY. Like, terrifying!
Here’s the thing; last Spring, I made myself a goal of posting some videos of my 8 Keys to End Bullying training excerpts. I wrote that goal down and now, true to my Type-A-personality form, I have to follow through. Here’s my first attempt! Let me know what you think (but only the good things of course because cyberbullying a Bullying Prevention speaker would be totally not cool.)
And if you want to hear more of what I have to say or have me say it LIVE and in person (so much preferred!), check out my Workshops & Speaking page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here it is: How to Listen so that Kids Will Talk About Bullying, featuring 5 steps for helping your young person feel safe enough and supported to come to you when he/she is facing peer conflict and/or bullying.
Thanks for watching!
There is nothing that thrills an author more than knowing that their ideas and words are helpful to others. When you find out that those “others” include amazing 10-12 year olds from halfway around the globe, it’s even more of an honor!
What fun to hear from Karla Sanders, Co-Founder and Director of New Zealand’s Anti-Bullying charity organization, Sticks ‘n Stones that a group of her student ambassadors were inspired by the “Are you a Duck or a Sponge” activity from my 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book and expanded on the lesson in order to create these AMAZING posters.
Thank you, ambassadors, for all of the great thought, creativity, and artistry that went into this project! Please keep sharing your work and keep up your efforts to promote respect, acceptance and diversity.
Do you know someone who is overtly cooperative but covertly defiant? Do you live or work with a person who chronically procrastinates, carries out tasks with intentional inefficiency, or acts as if he or she is the victim of your impossibly high standards? If you know this feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster, chances are good that you are dealing with a passive-aggressive person.
Passive aggression is a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger (Long, Long & Whitson, 2016). It involves a variety of behaviors designed to get back at another person without the other recognizing the underlying anger. In the long run, passive-aggressive behavior can be even more destructive to relationships than aggression. Over time, relationships with a person who is passive-aggressive will become confusing, discouraging, and dysfunctional.
Below, I share a real-life passive-aggressive encounter between a husband and wife, and explain how they could confront and change this destructive pattern of interaction using the process of “benign confrontation.”
For many, confrontation is a scary prospect: Whether out of fear of receiving a person’s anger or out of discomfort with exposing someone’s emotions, some people spend a lifetime hiding from face-to-face, direct communication about others’ behavior. Passive-aggressive individuals know this. They bank on it. In fact, they often select their adversaries based on who will be least likely to attempt to unmask the anger that they so desperately want to keep hidden.
The bad news for those who shy away from confrontation is that without directly addressing passive-aggressive behavior, the pattern will play out against them again and again. The good news is that benign confrontation is nothing to be afraid of. It is not an in-your-face, anger-inspiring, make-them-admit-what-they-did kind of authoritarian tactic. Rather, it is a quiet and reﬂective verbal intervention skill in which an adult gently but openly shares his or her thoughts about a person’s behavior and unexpressed anger. It is based on the decision not to silently accept a person’s manipulative and controlling behavior any longer.
See how the six-step process of benign confrontation plays out in this husband-wife dynamic:
Richard liked to relax at night when he got home from work. He loved his family, but when it came to the evening hours, he wanted time to himself. And for the month of January, he had had it this way. In helping their 2-year-old daughter, Hayley, adjust to a “big-girl bed,” his wife, Kelly, had taken full responsibility for the bedtime routine. By February, Hayley was able to settle down within 15 minutes and stay in her bed to fall asleep. One night, Kelly asked Richard if he could put Hayley to bed. Richard agreed with the request and went upstairs with Hayley.
From downstairs, Kelly could hear squeals of laughter. She thought to herself, “How nice that they are getting some playtime together.” After 20 minutes passed by, she heard the loud slam of a closet door, and wondered if Hayley needed a new diaper or change of pajamas. When 30 minutes had gone by and loud music started to play from Hayley’s room, Kelly could feel her anger rising. Forty-ﬁve minutes after she asked Richard and Hayley to go upstairs for bedtime, Kelly went up to the room and opened the door. Hayley was out of her ﬂeece pajamas and in a bathing suit, sun hat, Barbie sunglasses, and a pair of brand new, too-big, hot pink water shoes.
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Hayley ran to her mother with a huge, wide-awake smile: “Bedtime so fun!”
Kelly glared at Richard and exited the room quickly. When he returned downstairs another 35 minutes later and faced Kelly’s angry barrage of questions about what he was thinking and why he would defy the soothing bedtime routine she had worked so hard to create, Richard feigned innocence: “What? We were just having some fun!”
The situation was clear; Richard didn’t want to bother with bedtime routines. Rather than tell Kelly this, and risk an argument over sharing childcare responsibilities, he chose a passive-aggressive response to the situation. The cunning of his personal choice was unmistakable: If Kelly had argued with his stated intention of having fun with his daughter, she would surely have appeared an uptight, no-fun mother—and an overly controlling wife. Richard’s strategy netted a significant short-term win for both his daughter and him: Hayley thoroughly enjoyed bedtime that night and thought her Daddy was the coolest in the world—and Richard would not be called upon to help with this evening responsibility for months to come. Winning a battle, however, sometimes results in losing the war. The long-term impact of chronic passive-aggressive behavior on Richard’s marriage was already beginning to take its toll.
Not wanting to continue harboring feelings of chronic irritation toward her husband, but also unwilling to carry all of the childcare responsibilities on her own, Kelly can use benign confrontation to communicate with Richard about the incident.
1. Know it when you see it.
Once Kelly is aware of typical patterns of passive-aggressive behavior, she can recognize that her husband is expressing unspoken reluctance to give up his evening free time through the intentional undoing of an established bedtime routine. Rather than responding with anger or having a bedtime tantrum worthy of their two-year old, recognizing Richard’s behavior for what it is will help Kelly keep her cool.
2. Decline the Invitation to argue.
While Kelly waits downstairs for Richard to put Hayley to bed, she should manage her rising anger through self-talk strategies: “Richard didn’t want to put Hayley to bed tonight. Rather than telling me in words, he is showing me through this passive-aggressive behavior. I will not allow myself to get caught up in a no-win argument.”
Read the rest of the article on PsychologyToday, or use the link below:
As an author and educator on Bullying Prevention, one of the strategies I talk about most to professionals, parents, and kids is the powerful impact of cultivating cultures of kindness in classrooms and schools. At my school, here’s one of the everyday ways we get students involved in lifting each other up.