Teaching Respect, as an Action Verb

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Over the course of the last month, I have been talking with my students about Respect and how we show respect to ourselves, to others, to property, to all living things, and to our Earth. We don’t just talk about the word ‘Respect’ as a vague virtue, but rather we apply ‘Respect’ as an action verb, consistently planning and practicing real-world ways that young people can show respect on a daily basis.
Yesterday, I challenged my third graders to think about something in their world for which they want to raise awareness and respect (saving animals, cleaning oceans, curing cancer, etc.) and to think of ways to take actions to support this cause. I reminded these amazing kiddos how their small acts can be powerful when it comes to making changes and helping the world around them.

Imagine how my heart overflowed when a parent sent me these three photos of her son and the lemonade stand he held right after school, complete with the poster he made in my class, to raise money to cure cancer. (Permission granted to share photos).
Kids are amazing change-makers!

Now Available: The All-New Angry Smile Book! Learn to Understand & Change Passive Aggression

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It’s here! The all-new Angry Smile book, featuring brand new chapters on passive aggressive behavior online and via social media, clear steps on how to confront and change passive aggressive behavior, and dozens of new, real-life examples directly from YOU, our training participants.

Order your copy TODAY at www.lsci.org or through the link below.

https://www.lsci.org/product/the-angry-smile/

A Simple Hello Can Transform a Student’s School Experience

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In 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools, I tell a real-life story of a 9-year old student who came to me on her second day of school and told me, in a voice that I can only describe as gleeful, that her teacher really liked her.  When I asked her how she could tell, she explained:

She smiles at me every day when I walk into her room. It’s so different from my teacher last year.  She was always doing work and never even looked up before the second bell, except to remind us of anything we were doing wrong. I think the teacher this year really likes me!

A series of twirls and joyful shrieks later, it was plain to see how something as simple and brief as a warm acknowledgement from a teacher meant the world to that student.  To quote Jerry Maguire, the teacher “had her at hello.”

Connections heal and more times that I can count, it is the “little things” like the personal greeting at the door or the smile across the lunch room that go the longest way in making kids feel valued in a school setting.

That’s why this story, featured yesterday on ABC’s Good Morning America, really caught my eye.  Please watch and enjoy!

https://gma.yahoo.com/teacher-personalized-handshakes-every-one-students-200526323–abc-news-topstories.html?cid=social_fb_gma#

New Reviews are In for the 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book

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“A needed topic in a great format. It is an Activity Book and more! The author uses a variety of methods to communicate her key points. Drawing for the artist, writing for the wordsmith, up and at ’em for the active learner. Each key has a checkpoint (post test) to determine comprehension. The stories use culturally relevant names and situations which I find helpful working with the population I do. I especially like Key 6,Be Known For Being Kind, which give 10 things to say and do to stop bullying. New ideas allow for independent thinking and actions and it doesn’t even list “tell an adult” which most kids say doesn’t work. Thanks, Ms. Whitson for a great resource.”

 

The activities are fun to do and I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next. After I completed the 8 Keys I really wanted to get rid of bullying at my school. I learned what bullying is and things I can do to stop it.” (Ashlyn, age 11)

 

“Signe Whitson continues to be one of the most dynamic leaders in bullying education and crisis intervention among youth. These interactive guides for students, parents, and educators provide the hands-on tools to help kids and tweens cope wisely with real-life situations, both offline and online. These workbooks are full of engaging and collaborative games, worksheets, and thought-provoking activities that will stay with your child longer than simply reading a book. Whitson’s activity program allows you to get involved with your child on both an emotional level and an educational one―these are definitely two books you must reach out and buy.” (Sue Scheff, Parent Advocate, Internet Safety Expert and author of Shame Nation)

“Well-organized and easily relatable, this workbook and companion guide will help kids understand categories of aggressive behaviors―such as how rude, mean, and bullying behaviors differ―and teach them to treat others with respect and kindness. Bravo for a fun, accessible anti-bullying activity program!” (Carrie Goldman, award-winning author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear)

“Signe Whitson continues to provide value that very few do: a detailed approach that offers tools and skill-building for young people in an action-based training format. This is the only way to impact one of our toughest issues that all people face: bullying. An amazing resource for educators and parents, with proven strategies to fight bullying situations.” (Jason Spector, Veteran Physical Educator and Coach, Co-Founder of Sweethearts and Heroes Anti-Bullying Program, father of two)

 

Thanks, all, for your kind words and great feedback!  If you have not uploaded our review yet, please do so at https://www.amazon.com/Keys-Bullying-Activity-Book-Tweens/dp/0393711803/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0393711803&pd_rd_r=ZNTF9NXEC95WBS47H7CM&pd_rd_w=x1GW6&pd_rd_wg=jFlBe&psc=1&refRID=ZNTF9NXEC95WBS47H7CM

Fun Activity Helps Kids Tell the Difference Between Bullying and Other Forms of Conflict & Aggression

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In my book, 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools and in this article featured online in Psychology Today, I make a distinction between behaviors that are rude, behaviors that are mean, and Rude mean bullying bulletin boardbehaviors that are true examples of bullying.  I explain why it is critical that parents and professionals are able to discern the differences between these troubling behaviors and explain the risks of lumping all bad behaviors under the bullying umbrella.

I created the activity below for educators, counselors. social workers, school psychologists, youth workers and parents to use with kids to help them learn and integrate behavioral definitions of rude, mean, and bullying.  Please feel free to use this activity with the young people in your life to teach them about the key distinctions between these three behaviors.  (I do ask that you include my name and contact information if you make photocopies of this activity or use it in any type of presentation.

 

 

 

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ACTIVITY:  Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or Is it Bullying?

After reviewing the distinctions between rude, mean, and bullying behavior (below), read the following scenarios aloud to kids. Challenge kids to move to a designated section in the room if the behavior represents bullying, to a different section if the behavior demonstrates meanness, and to a third section if the behavior is considered rude. Allow kids time to discuss why they chose to stand in a particular section, encouraging personal examples and reflection, as appropriate.  An Answer Key is provided to guide your discussion.

 

 

DEFINITIONS:

Rude = Accidentally saying or doing something hurtful.

Rude behaviors include:

  • Burping in someone’s face
  • Butting in line
  • Bragging about making a team

Rude behaviors are usually thoughtless and ill-mannered, but not meant to actually hurt someone else.


Mean = Saying or doing something to hurt a person on purpose, once or maybe twice.

The main difference between “rude” and “mean” behavior is that rudeness is usually unplanned. Mean behavior, on the other hand, is done on purpose.

Mean behaviors include:

  • Making fun of what someone looks like or what they are wearing
    • I don’t like your short hair. You look like a boy.
    • Why did you wear that dress?
  • Insulting someone’s intelligence or ability
    • You’re so stupid.
    • You stink at soccer.
  • Saying or doing something unkind after a fight with a friend.
    • Saying, “I hate you.”
    • Taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

Make no mistake; mean behaviors are very hurtful and should be avoided at all times! Still, meanness is different from bullying in important ways that we’ll talk about next.

 

Bullying = Cruel behavior, done on purpose and repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.

 

To best understand bullying, remember the 3 P’s:

 

  1. It is done on Purpose; there is nothing “accidental” or unplanned about bullying
  2. It is a Pattern; the cruelty happens over and over again
  3. It is all about Power; the cruel person has more control and influence than his/her target

 

Kids who bully say or do something purposefully hurtful to others and they keep doing it again and again, with no sense of guilt or shame. Kids who bully have more power than the kids they pick on. This power may come from being older, stronger, or bigger in size or it may come from getting several kids to gang up on one target, to make that target feel hurt and alone.

 

 

SCENARIOS:

 

  1. Kayla tells MacKenzie that she can’t sit with her on the bus today because she is saving the seat for a girl from her Social Studies class.

 

  1. Lucas tells Damien that he can’t play with the Legos because he is the worst builder in the whole first grade.

 

  1. Talia makes plans to go to the school dance with her new friend, Gwen. Katie tells Talia that if she hangs out at the dance with Gwen that everyone will think she is a total weirdo and no one will like her anymore. At lunch that day, Katie convinces everyone that it would be a really funny joke to all laugh out loud when Talia approached the lunch table.

 

  1. Devin and David are friends. In school, they had an argument. Devin called David a name and David shoved him out of his way.

 

  1. Maggie is making fun of the fact that Jessie hangs out with the boys at recess and wears long basketball shorts to school every day.  In gym class, Maggie told her to go play on the boys’ team and the day before in homeroom, she wrote the words “You’re so gay” on Jessie’s desk.

 

  1. Brady told JP he would beat him up if he touched his cars, then shoved JP out of his way. During math class, he threw a spitball at JP and kicked his chair out from under him. He threatened to punch JP if JP told the teacher.

 

  1. Emma and Brit play on the same field hockey team and are normally best friends, but have been in an argument for three days. Emma called Brit a mean name after practice and Brit send Emma a mean text.

 

 

ANSWER KEY

 

  1. Kayla & MacKenzie: Kayla is being rude, but here is no evidence of intentional meanness, repetitive behavior or a power imbalance.

 

  1. Lucas & Damien: Lucas is being mean. It appears that his words are intended to hurt Damien. There is no evidence of repetitive behavior or a power imbalance, however.

 

  1. Talia & Katie: Katie is acting like a bully. She has creating an unfair balance of power by getting all of the girls at the lunch table to laugh at Talia. She is also using words like “everyone” and “no one” to threaten Talia about how she will be socially excluded if she does not do what Katie wants her to do.

 

  1. Devin & David: Devin and David are engaging in rough play, or rude behavior. This is not bullying because the boys are usually friends, the power balance is relatively equal and the boys are not intending to harm each other.

 

  1. Maggie & Jessie: Maggie is acting like a bully. She is making fun of Jessie repeatedly, with intention to cause harm. Slurs based on sexual orientation are particularly cruel for young people and should be taken seriously by adults wishing to create a positive school culture.

 

  1. Brady & JP: Brady is acting like a bully. He is engaging in repetitive cruel behavior, designed to hurt JP. He is using intimidation and threats to create a power imbalance.

 

  1. Emma & Brit: Emma and Brit are being mean to each other. They are intending to hurt each other with their words and texts. The girls are normally friends, though, and at this point, this appears to be a mutual argument rather than a repetitive pattern of one-sided cruelty.

 

 

 

 

If you know a young person who would benefit from exploring the distinctions between rude, mean, and bullying and/or who would like to learn skills for managing conflict and bullying check out the 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book for Kids & Tweens.  This book (and Companion Guide, sold separately or as a set) provides dozens of worksheets, quizzes, activities, puzzles, and skill-building games to teach these concepts and much, much more.  Check it out here!

Activity Book Provides 40+ Hands-On Skills to Stop Bullying

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I was just at a Barnes & Noble fundraiser for my kids’ school and found my new book featured on this shelf! Just as exciting to my fan-girl self is that my book is right next to Rachel Simmons’ groundbreaking, Odd Girl Out, and the books of my favorite children’s author, Trudy Ludwig.

All make for great holiday gifts, in case you still have teachers, counselors, parents, or kiddos on your list!!  Order on amazon now at https://www.amazon.com/Keys-Bullying-Activity-Book-Tweens/dp/0393711803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482326002&sr=8-1&keywords=8+keys+to+end+bullying+activity+book

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The Angry Smile featured in Real Simple

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Check out the December 2016 issue of Real Simple Magazine to read a great feature story (“Ugh–She’s Being So Passive-Aggressive”) with many comments and references to The Angry Smile.

Download here: rsim_20161201_143_1290272_article1the-angry-smile-front-only

For live and online training opportunities on how to understand and manage passive aggressive behavior, visit www.lsci.org

Be sure to keep your eyes out for the new edition of The Angry Smile, coming January 2017!  Here’s a sneak peek at our new cover!

 

 

 

 

 

4 Reasons Passive Aggressive Behavior Thrives Online

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Many of the adults reading this post likely grew up in a world where at the end of the day, they were able to return to a home and “unplug” from the activities, pressures, and communication of school and work life.  It’s a fact of the 21st century, however, that most adults and kids remain connected to each other all day, every day.  Today, smartphones, e-mails, texts, apps and social media sites dictate that people are always plugged in and ever-attached to each other.

For as much as modern technology has made possible round-the-clock communication, however, it has also lessened the amount of time that human beings look each other in the eye and say what they are thinking or feeling.  There can be no doubt that for most people—and especially for those who prefer to avoid direct confrontation—it is far easier to be cruel from a behind a keyboard.   Today’s technology affords anyone who wants to mask their anger or aggression a perfect front.  For the passive aggressive person, the relative anonymity of screens and apps has become an ideal Get-Out-of-Guilt-Free card.   In this post on Psychology Today’s website, I examine four reasons why passive aggression thrives online.  Please check it out and share it with anyone to whom it can be helpful.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201611/4-reasons-passive-aggression-thrives-online

 

 

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SUNDAY STRATEGY: Listening & Building Self-Regulation in Kids

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Last week, I had the joy of bringing LSCI Certification training to the staff at my “home” school–Circle of Seasons Charter School in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  We spent four days learning about, talking about, watching videos about, and role playing various situations about how to effectively reach and teach challenging children and youth.

One of the things that makes LSCI so powerful of a strategy with students is that it gives adults very specific skills with which they can learn to LOOK BEYOND SURFACE BEHAVIOR and understand the unique beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings that drive disruptive or disrespectful behavior.  LSCI teaches that effective listening is the path to self-regulation in students and show adults the importance of how to listen in order to:

  1. de-escalate
  2. understand a child’s perspective
  3. build insight and understanding
  4. cultivate trusting relationships
  5. teach new skills
  6. create long-term changes in behavior
  7. and so much more!

If you’d like to learn more about this powerful training experience, I invite you to visit www.lsci.org, contact someone who has recently attended an LSCI training, or email me at swhitson@lsci.org.

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How to Listen so that Kids Will Talk About Bullying

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In the last several years of working as a School Counselor and speaking with professionals, parents and students across the United States on the topic of Bullying Prevention, one of the observations that stands out to me the most is that parents, in general, are very eager to talk about bullying while their kids, on the other hand, seem to want to do anything but talk to their parents about this topic. The more parents pry, the more kids withdraw. The more parents push, the harder kids pushback—with excuses, minimizations, abrupt subject changes, stonewalling, silence, and sometimes even complete denial that a peer problem exists.

Why is it that so many young people are so loathe to talk to their caregivers about bullying? The more I ask students this question, the more often they tell me some version of this frustrated rationale:

If I tell my parents, they are going to make a big deal out of it and tell everyone what’s happening to me.”

Or

“If I tell my parents, they’ll rush into school to try to meet with the Principal, which will definitely make things way worse for me.”

What can parents, caregivers, educators, and other trustworthy adults do to help a young person feel safe enough to confide in them about a bullying situation? How can you make your child feel supported—instead of embarrassed or endangered—enough to tell you when they really need your help?

When I ask school-aged kids how they would like their parents to respond when they tell them about a bullying situation, again the responses are nearly universal. Most commonly, kids tell me, “I just wish they’d listen.” This is frequently followed by, “I wish they’d give me some advice but let me try to handle it on my own first.”

What follows are five guidelines for parents and professionals on how to listen well and respond in helpful ways when a young person reports an incident of bullying:

1. Stay Calm
First and foremost, when a young person takes the leap of faith to talk to you about a bullying situation, stay calm. Avoid freaking out. The dynamics they describe may be very run-of-the-mill or they may be entirely appalling, but either way, your role as a helpful adult is to listen well and respond as if the situation is completely manageable. The steadfastness of your response will go a long way in shaping the child’s attitude as the two of you begin to move forward toward solutions.

 

To read the remaining five guidelines about how to listen well to young people so that they will talk honestly about bullying, please visit the original posting at Psychology Today.

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