One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from teachers and parents is, How should I respond when a young person is upset or emotionally overwhelmed?” Since self-regulation is the core of emotional well-being (not to mention a pre-requisite for academic progress), I am not just willing…but completely eager…to share practical strategies for helping kids manage intense feelings and develop self-regulation skills.
Check out my recent post from Psychology Today to find seven practical strategies for responding well to angry kiddos…and please share it with professionals, parents, and others in your network who may also find it helpful.
My students tell me that one of the most frequently applied skills I teach them is the use of Bully Bans. Bully bans are short, to-the-point statements meant to interrupt an incident of bullying in its tracks without escalating the conflict. These practiced responses take into account that during stressful moments, kids’ brains rarely come up with “helpful” things to say. Rather, the heat-of-the-moment usually sparks emotionally-charged, conflict-fueling words and actions. Bully bans help turn this around. Find out more from my recent Psychology Today post, here:
Specific lesson plans for teaching Bully Bans to kids are featured in Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Teach Young Girls to Cope with Bullying.
It’s cold outside! 🧥🧤🧣☃️❄️ What a perfect day to stay indoors and learn new skills to understand and change passive aggressive behavior. Check out the LSCI Institute’s online training, The Angry Smile.
Complete a whole day’s worth of live training in just a few hours, right here:
(Copy of The Angry Smile book is included and will be shipped directly to the address you provide!)
I saw this meme online today and just love it:
LSCI training, the certification program that is the basis for most of my professional interactions with distressed kids, offers the skills we all need to reach out to hurt-filled children. For more information please visit the LSCI page on this site or check out www.lsci.org today. I can very honestly say that I use the skills of LSCI every single day in my work and have for the last 17 years since I was first certified in LSCI. I’m happy to answer any and all questions about LSCI training.
Training opportunities are available online at your convenience or year round at any of LSCI’s international training sites.
Earlier this month, I had the honor of being interviewed by The Native Society, an online global health & wellness platform. Here’s a piece of our conversation:
Signe Whitson: author, international educator on Bullying Prevention, & Director of Counseling, The Swain School in Pennsylvania
Signe Whitson is an author, international educator on Bullying Prevention, and Director of Counseling at The Swain School in Pennsylvania. In her articles, books, and workshops, Signe provides down-to-earth, practical advice for navigating the daily challenges of living and working with children, tweens and teens. As a mother of two daughters, Signe relates to parents on a personal level. She is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute, an international training and certification program for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors.
What Do I Do Best?
Since I was young, I could always count on having the perfect response or comeback…ten minutes after it was needed in a situation. As a writer, on the other hand, I’m better able to collect my thoughts and present them in-the-moment. I can’t say I love writing, but I do love having written and think I am most effective when I use the written word to share knowledge, insights, and strategies for helping young people cope with conflict, manage anger, and solve social problems.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Coffee and red wine?
Or maybe compassion, empathy, and a determination to look beyond surface behavior and aim to understand the thoughts and feelings that underlie a young person’s actions.
Probably a combination of all of the above.
For more of the interview, please visit:
I just finished a fantastic run of Conference presentations and school visits, complete with 16 presentations to over 1,000 professionals, students, and parents. In each presentation, I talked about the power of 1 genuine compliment, 1 warm smile, 1 reassuring hug, 1 kind text, 1 choice to eat lunch with a person who would otherwise eat alone…and so many other simple “1 Things” that kids can do to reach out, show kindness, and make an important different to someone who is on the receiving end of cruelty or bullying. This Psychology Today post by Pamela Paresky highlights the power of the peer group and the positive ways that social capital can be spent on helping others:
8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools is now available in Spanish! I have a small number of review copies available if you live or work in a community or school that would benefit from this resource. Leave me a comment below, if interested in receiving a translated copy!
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.