How To Cope With Bullying

by Gail Peterson

Too-Many-Rocks-in-your-Pocket-BullyingThe rise of social media and smartphones has made the impact of school bullying more apparent. A 2012 report from the US Department of Health & Human Services stated that 37% of students reported being bullied in school, and 52% report being cyber bullied.

These statistics are alarming to many, especially parents. As mentors and guardians to our children, we are all looking for tools to make our kids more aware of bullying and better able to handle conflicts with their friends and peers.

The negative feelings associated with being bullied lead to fear and anxiety, as well as a build up of stress. When combined the stress associated with bullying with other stressors (tests, homework, competitive sports, etc.), it becomes difficult for some kids to separate out the causes and find reasonable solutions.

After years of working with stressed and overworked clients and seeing my kids struggle, I came up with a new solution to help kids identify stresses in their life called Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket.

There is a pouch of hand-polished rocks painted with different common stress words that kids experience, such as bully, fear, fitting in, grades, etc.. How it works is by following the instructions to take out the appropriate rock from the bag that best fits the emotion or stress they feel at the time and put that rock in your pocket. Carry that rock around in your pocket for the day. In the case of a younger child, when the parent and kid get home, take the rocks out that have been put in the pocket for the day and open a discussion as to what caused that stress. When as parents we know what causes our kids stress or hurt we are much better equipped to help our kids understand helpful and creative ways to deal with it. What we have found is that children often have a hard time defining emotions such as pressure, fear, fitting-in, etc on their own. The rocks can be a tool to open up a discussion and help find a solution.

Tom Krause, a thirty-year classroom teacher and national motivational speaker in education, said of the rocks, “A wonderful resource for teens to deal with stress is Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket. They are a brilliantly simple and effective tool to help teenagers confront and deal with stress on a daily basis.”

In order for us as parents to effectively use tools such as stress rocks, we must first understand where bullying comes from. I believe, it is safe to say that to some degree our children are products of their environment. a child’s behavior is influenced through family life, school life, social and peer interactions. As a starting point we must first evaluate the home life. Of course the vast majority of us don’t think of ourselves as bullies or abusers, but we must be cautious of the interactions we expose our children to. Do you ever speak disparagingly of a co-worker or relative? Make a joke at someone’s expense? These are the subtle, often innocent behaviors that our children can pick up on and use as a justification to bully someone at school. As far as school and social relationships we as parents have a duty to be involved in our child’s life. Make an effort to talk with teachers in regards to not only grades but classroom interactions. Look for signs of aggressive behavior towards others. Know your child’s friends! Who do they hang out with? Are they positive or negative relationships. Simply put, be involved and know what’s going on when your child is away from home.

As adults it can be easy to blow off the seriousness of bullying. We may think back to when we were kids and say, yeah, I was bullied by a classmate, no big deal it made me build character and I got over it! That was then; the reality today is sadly that teen suicides and school shootings are on the rise, in large part to kids who feel bullied, alienated, stressed, and depressed. As I mentioned earlier, with the much wider availability of electronic communications and social sites it is easier than ever for a child to get ganged up on. Rumors spread in the speed of a click or text to a whole class or school. The days of one on one are gone; imagine being bullied by your whole class! Tom Krause, teacher and motivational speaker say, “Society, in general, has made teenage years more stressful today than it was thirty years ago. Increasing drug usage, suicide attempts, and dropout rates attest to the difficulty many children and teens face.”

I urge all parents to realize the seriousness of bullying and the importance of opening up discussions with their kids, parents of their child’s friends, and teachers. I also urge you to familiarize yourself with your state’s anti-bullying laws. 49 of 50 states have such a law, and there are also federal laws to be aware of. Consider using tools such as Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket to help your kids cope with the stresses of modern life and to help facilitate communication with your child. According to Elizabeth Washburn, a Social Worker and Development Disability Professional, “Tools such as “Too Many Rocks” can assist communication and coping skills because it allows them a verbal prompt that shows the emotion that they are attempting to express. In play therapy, psychologists use similar tools in allowing children to express and identify the target of their pain.” Bullying will never go away, but with consistent and comprehensive involvement by parents, teachers, and others professionals we can help our children develop the skills necessary to appropriately deal with bullying.

Training and Exercise for your Brain
Too Many Rocks In Your Pocket (Kids Series) is designed to help children cope with stress and to open up communication with parents on topics relating to stress and bullying.

How it works: Through research we have found that identifying target words help children open up with adults regarding important issues that may otherwise go unchecked. Through their teenage years – and sometimes beyond – many children lack a firm grasp of the concept of stress and how it affects their lives. When adults use the trigger words on our rocks and ask their children what those words mean to them, it becomes easier for children to recall significant conversations and situations in their lives.

Once you have had a discussion with your child, you are better equipped to help them deal with those stresses. This concept works by allowing children to confront their stresses visually and physically instead of suppressing them or not dealing with them appropriately. It is a tool designed as a step towards identifying stress – not as a solution in and of itself. The concept represents a simple, yet effective approach that practically anyone can learn to use.

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