Archives for Family
"Beating the Bully" will be taking a holiday break until January. I'll be reposting some of the most popular articles from the past year until then. Happy holidays! I hope everyone reading in the United States had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday last week! When I thought about what to write after taking the holiday week off, I contemplated the numerous discussions I had both in and out of the consulting room regarding people's varied feelings about being with family during the holidays. Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It's inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that's what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present...AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.
I hope everyone reading in the United States had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday last week! When I thought about what to write after taking the holiday week off, I contemplated the numerous discussions I had both in and out of the consulting room regarding people's varied feelings about being with family during the holidays. Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It's inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that's what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present...AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.
The weeks following Labor Day bring the start of a new school year. For some students, there is a palpable excitement to return back to school, to see friends and swap summer vacation stories and meeting new teachers. For others though, the there is a fearful hope that maybe this year is the year things will be different. Since bullying is in the forefront of public consciousness, let's work to make our schools safe for all students, teachers and staff; as we've seen over the summer adults can be bullied too. What can we do to help everyone in our school communities start off on the right foot? Here are some tips for students, parents, teachers and staff: For Students: There is a saying plastered all over the New York City subway system, if you see something, say something. The same is true about bullying in schools! If you see a fellow student being targeted, ask if he/she is ok afterward, encourage the target to talk to an adult, or step in stand up for the target (I know much easier said than done!) If you can let the targeted student they are not alone, it'll help them feel less scared and perhaps will be able to feel empowered to advocate for himself/herself.
You may have already heard about 14-year-old Nadia Ilse, who got plastic surgery after years of torment for having "elephant ears." Kids are cruel! Yet, as I read several different articles/blogs about Nadia, I wondered if the surgery circumvented an important process to unfold which could have lead to a "bully free" environment for in that community. Dr. Vivian Diller eloquently stated her concerns, which I share, in the ABC News interview: "When you surgically alter the victim of a bully, isn't it questionable that message we are sending is that the burden lies on the victim and not on a culture that is fueling some bullying trend that we know is going on." Nadia received the surgery pro bono from the Little Baby Face Foundation. Dr. Thomas Romo III, who is the foundation's President and performed the surgery, stated that Nadia was not picked because she was a victim of bullying but rather because her deformity fit the Organization's criteria.
Hello All! "Beating the Bully" will be taking a summer vacation and will be back blogging on August 13th! Until then I'll have some of the most read posts up for your enjoyment. "It's in my job description as your mother to keep you safe," is how one mother in a group of parents I've been working with explains why she does what she does. The question that plagues parents is: is my child safe when they aren't with me?* When a parent finds out that their child has been victimized by bullying, a myriad of emotions and questions arise: Why is this happening to my child? Has this happened more than once? If it has why didn't they tell me sooner? Why hasn't anyone at school done anything? What do I do? There have been two stories in the news recently: one parent wiring his son to catch his teachers bullying him and another providing her son a stun gun to protect himself from bullies. Both sets of parents took what some would call extreme measures to protect their children. But how extreme are those measures?
Hello All! "Beating the Bully" will be taking a summer vacation and will be back blogging on August 13th! Until then I'll have some of the most read posts up for your enjoyment. Much of what is written about bullying focuses on what to do if your child is a victim. Little is written on what to do if your child is actually a bully. When parents find out their child has been bullying others, I have witnessed them initially respond in a variety of different ways: utter shame and guilt, tempered anger, quiet embarrassment or denial and defensiveness. Neither response is 'good' or 'bad,' and frankly, I would never want to be in that position. We want our children to be viewed in the best light possible. Being labeled a bully can inadvertently foster a social role/expectation among a child's peer group and school community, thus perpetuating the bullying cycle. The first step to stop bullying is having the child's community at large - parents, school staff and most importantly peers - respond to it when it's happening.
I was doing my daily internet research and came across this blog post by Cat Koehler, a mother who deconstructs the newfound attention towards bullying. Ms. Koehler astutely notes that never before have we put so much attention towards bullying. She goes on to suggest that due to this attention, we have become hyper-vigilant, labeling normative interpersonal conflict between children as bullying. Ms. Koehler shares an incident involving her 9-year-old daughter and a boy picking on her. Candidly, she says, "At first I wanted to hug her and tell her it would all be okay, but then I got a little angry. Why was she sitting here acting like a victim? Had we not taught her how to stand up for herself?"
Choking Your Child’s Bully, Lowering Facebook’s Age Restrictions and Why This is a ‘Win’ for Cyberbullies
I came across some news reports of a Florida mother choking her daughter's Facebook bully. It seems that Debbie Piscitella was at her wits end! I cannot condone her behavior, but completely empathize with her feelings towards her daughter's bully. Some news reports have quoted what the bully wrote and suffice to say I don't know any parent that wouldn't want to strike with a vengeance. But as adults we don't. And we shouldn't. We want to model behavior that we want our children to emulate. Also in the news, it's been reported by several different outlets that Facebook is taking measures to lower the age restriction on their site. More on that tomorrow. Why write about these two news stories? I think both stories delineate a huge problems with social networking - the lack of resources parents have to help keep their children safe from online bullying.
With all the talk about bullying in the media (most recently spawned by the film 'Bully') do we really know what it is? Violence Prevention Works defines bullying as aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power. Most often repeated over time. Bullying can manifest in physical violence (the most obvious acts of bullying), verbal attacks, and non-verbal behavior (i.e. exclusion from activities, being the last student chosen for a sports team at recess) which I consider acts of relational aggression. All types of bullying are detrimental to a developing child's sense of self-worth. We know that children who are victims of bullying are: More likely to do poorly in school. More likely to have or develop mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. More likely to develop substance abuse issues. More likely to bully themselves. A subcategory of bullying that I often discuss with students, faculty and parents is the aforementioned relational aggression. Relational aggression is conceptualized as behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage, manipulating one's relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one's feelings of social acceptance. For purposes of this blog post, when I refer to bullying, I am discussing both bullying and relational aggression.