Essential Skills to Stop Bullying

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Not long ago, a national organization that provides mental health services for school-aged children posted an open question for followers on its social media page: You witness a student being bullied; what do you do?

Hundreds of people responded right away. The majority of their answers focused squarely on punishing the child who bullied—most with the type of language that would shock the very children they felt so strongly about protecting. “Shame the bully!” responded one teacher, who boasted that her 22 years of classroom experience validated her answer. “Kick the kid out of school,” demanded a professional counselor.

Ouch.

If social media is a reliable barometer of public opinion, it seems clear that the knee-jerk solution to the problem of bullying is hostility and vengeance. The response is understandable: adults who were bullied during their own youth often feel a strong urge to protect the current generation of young people from the same kind of abuse. Likewise, many adults feel justice is best served when aggressors are punished for their wrongdoing.

Yet the problem with bullying prevention strategies that center on the behavior of kids who bully is that they leave targeted kids in a powerless position, assuming that their lives will only get better if the child who bullies changes his/her ways. In fact, in their landmark study, Davis and Nixon (2010) found that adult actions aimed at changing the behavior of children who bully are actually more likely to make things worse for their victims—not better.

Bullying Prevention strategies that shift their focus to building positive social skills in all young people achieve better results. Read the rest of my post on Psychology Today.

Please share the post with educators, administrators, parents, and caregivers that you believe can benefit from this info.

 

 

 

A Child’s Life, Free From Violence and Fear

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Sharing a great post by Vanessa Nicholas as well as my own heartfelt gratitude for all educators:

“I am one fed up mama. I’m fed up for our children and I’m fed up for you, our educators. And I’m pledging to fight until we see more and more years pass before the next tragedy, not just days.

I will fight until there’s a time when this is all a distant memory and we can look back and say, “man, that was a scary time but look how far we’ve come”. I will fight for schools to be a safer place and fight for a day when you feel like you don’t have to have your guard up. I promise, I’m fighting.

I know we can do this and we will but in the meantime, teachers…thank you.

I will never have enough words of gratitude and thankfulness.

You are true heroes. My words will never fill that statement with enough power.”

 

How to Help Students Navigate Conflicts

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Recently, I was asked by Education Week’s Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo to weigh in on the question:

When two or more students are having a conflict, what are the most effective ways teachers can respond to the situation?

Here is my answer, along with the thoughtful responses of 5 other professionals:

 

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2018/02/response_ways_to_navigate_conflicts_restore_relationships_between_students.html

 

 

Teaching Growth Mindset with Wooden Blocks

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This month, I am working with my 5th grade students on developing a Growth Mindset.  They are learning the value of working through problems, persisting through mistakes, learning from failures, and demonstrating an open-mindedness toward lifelong learning and continuous improvement.

Today, we did a fun activity where the kids were challenged to build a tower with wooden blocks–using only chopsticks (no hands!). The task was intentionally difficult, but using teamwork and a growth mindset, the kids were challenged to persist until they completed the task.  Initial failures happened, goals were ultimately achieved, hilarity ensued and a good time was had by all.

 

Teaching Mindfulness to Students

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This month, I am working with students in grades PK, K and 1 to learn and practice basic mindfulness strategies.  In our first lesson, we talked about mindfulness as a special way of paying attention–both to the things happening around us and also to the way we feel on the inside.

In our first few lessons, we’ve been really paying attention to our breathing. Using pinwheels, feathers, and “belly buddies,” we’ve been learning how slow, deep breathing can help us feel more calm. Here we are practicing some of our mindfulness skills:

The kids are loving it!  Here’s what one of the parents had to say after our first lesson:

I love that this is happening…the students I teach benefit from learning coping skills like this (when they use them 🙂 [My daughter] told me about her feather and actually asked for it a few times already when she was getting upset!

 

 

 

LSCI Training Uses Problems Situations as Opportunities to Connect

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In the year 2000, as a young clinical social worker just two years out of graduate school and trying to find ways to effectively connect with tweens and teens in a residential treatment center, I lucked into attending an LSCI Certification training. To say that the advanced skills of LSCI changed my life would be an understatement.  18 years later, I can honestly say that I use LSCI skills every. single. day. in my work as the Director of Counseling at an Independent School, as a Mama of two daughters, and as a colleague.

It is the most practical set of skills I have ever learned, but more importantly, it is a way of thinking about young people.  LSCI taught me to always LOOK BEYOND BEHAVIOR and to focus my attention on discovering the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that underlie a young person’s challenging behaviors.

LSCI keeps foremost in my mind that every person has a story and that my most valuable role can be in connecting with that young person so that I can help them put that emotional story into words–rather than expressing themselves through self-destructive behaviors.

That’s LSCI in a nutshell–though the 4-day certification course offers so, so much more in terms of practical, step-by-step skills to reach and teach young people with patterns of self-defeating behaviors.  I’m always happy to tell you more about what LSCI offers.  Please feel free to email me at signewhitson@lsci.org or check out LSCI’s website at www.lsci.org

In the meantime, today I’m thrilled to say that LSCI is thriving not just in the U.S., but throughout Canada, Europe, and beyond!  Check out these images of LSCI training in Flanders, Belgium last week:

 

School-Based Bullying Prevention Programs

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What a wonderful day I spent at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School in Lake Charles, LA. yesterday! Here’s a few shots from our 5th/6th grade workshop, where the kids and I looked at key differences between rude, mean, and bullying behavior, then brainstormed helpful ways to respond to each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks also to the dedicated faculty and wonderful parents with whom I also got to share practical strategies for bringing an end to bullying.

To book your school-based event, click here.  Now booking for Spring and Summer 2018.

Speak Your Kind

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We’re participating in the Great Kindness Challenge this week at my school. Here’s an example of an act of kindness and generosity from one of our families…Absolutely love my new Speak Your Kind mug!

#beknownforbeingkind

 

 

Join the Great Kindness Challenge: Jan 22-26th

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Wanted to share with you how we are celebrating Kindness at my school this week:

(To learn more about the Great Kindness Challenge and how to get your students or your family involved, click here.)

Dear Families,

As many of you may have heard from your children, I have been working with students on turning kindness and compassion into verbs over the last two months.
This coming week, I’d love for all Swain students and families to join together to take part in the 2018 Great Kindness Challenge, a national campaign to create cultures of kindness in schools and communities.
Beginning tomorrow (Monday, Jan. 22), all students will receive a GKC 2018 Checklist, filled with no-cost ways to show kindness to others.  The students will be challenged to carry out as many of the acts of kindness as possible. Teachers will be checking in with students throughout the week to talk about how their acts of kindness impact others and how showing kindness makes them feel about themselves.
We would love to involve you as well!  Attached, please find the Great Kindness Challenge Family Edition checklist that you can use to carry out acts of kindness with your children. Please engage them in conversation about how small acts of kindness can make a big difference for others.  I hope you will enjoy this as a family challenge!
Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks for your help in making this school-wide Kindness Campaign work!!
Signe Whitson
Director of School Counseling

The Thing Your Students Need Most

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Today was one of those days where this was so very true!  To make someone feel genuinely heard, understood & accepted…to meet a young person where they are without any judgment…to show compassion…a better gift than any possible lesson plan objective!

 

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