One of the most common reasons parents approach me is to ask for my advice on how to help their child handle a bullying situation at school. Fear for their child’s well-being combined with a sense of powerlessness at changing peer dynamics often leaves moms, dads, and other caregivers feeling helpless. The bad news is that conflict and bullying are pervasive among school-aged kids and most students will be impacted by physical or social aggression either directly or indirectly. The good news is that there are many, many ways that parents can help safeguard their children and positively impact kids’ relationships. Here are five of the simplest—yet most powerful—do’s and don’ts parents can use to help their kids handle conflict and bullying:
1. Words Matter
Do help kids understand the difference between unintentionally rude behavior (such as butting ahead in the lunch line), mean comments said in a moment of anger between friends (e.g. “You’re not my best friend anymore”), and bullying behavior that is characteristically marked by purposeful cruelty that is repeated over time and involves an abuse of power (whether that power be size and strength or social rank at school.)
Don’t allow kids to over-label rude and mean behaviors as ‘bullying.’ In recent years, gratuitous references to bullying in schools and communities have created a “little boy who cried wolf” phenomena, resulting in jaded adults failing to take action when needed and vulnerable children missing out on the adult support they desperately need.
2. Conflict is OK
Do teach your child that it is perfectly normal to disagree with a friend. Differences of opinion are perfectly acceptable and learning how to communicate them respectfully is a critical social skill.
Don’t worry that you’re too much of a helicopter parent if you intervene in your child’s friendship conflict. Kids are not born knowing how to resolve conflict (goodness knows too many people make it to adulthood without this knowledge!). Young people need supportive adults to coach them in how to disagree without arguing and how to apologize after they’ve behaved badly.
To read the rest of the article, please visit Signe’s blog on Psychology Today.
There’s nothing that an idealistic, trying-to-change-the-world-one-child-at-a-time, do-gooder like me values more than hearing that their work is truly making a difference for others. Yesterday, Vanessa Reinelt, a homeschooling mom of two and teacher of 4 other children, sent me this music-to-my-ears feedback:
We have been working through your “How to Be Angry” curriculum and already are seeing huge benefits. Our children (ages 10-13) are already identifying their anger and striving to express their anger assertively! I have looked at many programs and resources trying to find an appropriate one to teach the kids about emotional and social health. None can compare to the depth and quality that yours provides. I absolutely love the format you use. Teaching the 4 types of Anger Expression and with the healthiest (Assertiveness) as the last module. I genuinely believe if we teach children about expressing…emotions in healthy ways, the human race will stand a chance in reaching the next millennium.
Thanks again for your time Ms. Whitson. You are truly a credit to your profession. Thank you for your amazing book. Your work is making the world a better place.
Thank YOU, Vanessa, for prioritizing the social and emotional health of kids!
I need your help! As many of you know, I am the COO of the fantastic Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute–a training program whose elements I use every single day in my work with young people.
We are in the process of updating our logo and have narrowed our designs down to these three choices. Please let me know which one of the images below you find most visually appealing and which one you think best communicates LSCI’s work with professionals, parents, and kiddos.
Simply identify your vote as being for Image 1 (ALL Capital letters), Image 2 (lowercase lsci), or Image 3 (handprints). Everyone who votes in the Comments section below will be entered in a random drawing to win a free copy of the LSCI text: Talking With Students in Conflict.
Winner announced on 6/15!
Currently, I am working on updating The Angry Smile text, for what will become the book’s 3rd edition. It’s interesting to think back on how much of my current work and writing on the topics of helping kids manage anger and teaching them to cope with bullying are tied directly to this work with understanding and changing #passiveaggressive behavior. Here’s a light-hearted “test” of how often you use Passive Aggressive Behavior in your daily life:
All of my very best wishes for a successful school year to all of the teachers, counselors, administrators, and STUDENTS headed back to the classroom this week!
Stores are buzzing this time of year with back-to-school shoppers and nervous anticipation of the school year that is about to begin. Kids are wondering if their BFF will be in their class and agonizing over important shopping decisions: backpack or messenger bag? Parents are guiltily calculating how many days until the kids go back to school and trying to remember if they ever supervised any summer reading or algebra review.
When it comes to what classroom teachers really want in terms of preparing students for a successful year, however, stylish school bags and math memorization don’t even make the top ten list. In my post below, featured in the Huffington Post’s Parents pages, I share Teachers’ Top 3 Wish List items–specific skills and teachable traits that make for a peaceful classroom and productive learning environment. Please read and share with parents and caregivers you know:
This week, I had the honor and pleasure of traveling to one of my favorite cities–New Orleans, LA– to present at the CPI Conference on The Angry Smile and strategies for understanding and changing passive aggressive behavior. This article summarizes some of what I shared with this great group of professionals.
Many thanks to Michael McKnight from New Jersey for this feedback on Friendship & Other Weapons:
“As a long time school administrator this is an exceptional resource to add to any prevention program and is tailored to girls. Often we neglect this group and the activities and resources in this book are an excellent addition to any bully prevention program!”
(Get your copy today at http://www.amazon.com/Friendship-Other-Weapons-Activities-Bullying/product-reviews/184905875X/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2TCI7531ZY40P)