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.

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Child?

by Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D

lazy-teenOne of my clients, Katherine, came in yesterday and told me that she was feeling frustrated with her son’s behavior. “Today I asked Evan repeatedly to take out the garbage and he just kept saying, ‘Later, Mom.’ I finally did it myself, but I was so angry and resentful,” she explained. “And it’s not only the trash – it’s more important things, like finishing schoolwork. I do virtually everything for Evan – to the point where sometimes I’m exhausted – and he never seems to take any responsibility himself.”

When I asked Katherine why she continued in this way, she said, “I suppose it’s because I felt my parents never did anything for me…and I don’t want Evan to ever feel that way.”

I replied, “I can see this is hurting you – but do you realize you may be hurting Evan, too?”

Katherine’s overprotective parenting style stems from her own sense of neglect, but there are other reasons parents may overcompensate and feel they must do everything for their child.

Fear of dire consequences can cause a parent to step in, e.g., “If I don’t finish the science project for her, she’ll fail the class and never get into college,” or “If I don’t remind him to get to soccer practice on time every day, he’ll get cut from the team.”

Feelings of anxiety about the world in general can drive parents to take control or indulge their children excessively, in the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed. For instance, “If I let him walk to his friend’s house alone, he may be kidnapped,” or “If I don’t buy her those expensive jeans, she says she just has to have, the other girls will make fun of her and ostracize her from their crowd.”

Although “do-everything” parents have good intentions, they can actually instill their own anxiety in their child. Parents who hover over and micro-manage their children at school functions or during play dates, because they themselves are uncomfortable in social situations, may create children who will mirror that same unease and apprehension.

Studies have shown that an overprotective parent can harm a child by engendering a lack of self-agency, the feeling that they are the agents that can produce a desired outcome, not the parent. Similarly, overprotective parents impede the development of self-efficacy, the sense that one has the capacity to take effective actions. Individuals with diminished self-efficacy are less resilient to stress and underestimate their own resources.

Children who have everything done for them lose the chance to develop valuable coping skills, to gain self-confidence and to learn to bounce back from failure when necessary.

So, if you catch yourself doing too much for your child, step back and give him or her a chance to learn to be more independent –– perhaps at first with a struggle, but later with ease.  Chances are you’ll both feel better about yourselves.

Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D has been a psychologist in private practice for 30 years. She is the director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. www.anxiety-treatment.com

Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?

by Karen Phillip

Taken from chapter 12 of “Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?”

 

kid-helps-raking-the-leavesHow many parents do you know that complain their child does nothing around the house or that they are so lazy or hopeless. Who is the smart one here? The child, of course.

 

Perhaps they were not given the opportunity of learning how to do independent things. Perhaps they had everything always done for them. Suddenly, asking them to now do it is like a red flag to a bull.

 

Little children love to help, love to do and learn new things, and love to be ‘big enough’ to help. Learning these things when they are little enables them to carry them on as a normal function when older. So stop doing everything for your little children. Allow them the opportunity to learn to do things independently for themselves. This way you are teaching, and they are learning the vital things for life. If started early, it is just so easy to have your children do their jobs. No problem and no complaints, they just do it as it is expected. It becomes a normal part of their life, like using the toilet and eating and washing hands. It is just what you do, doesn’t everyone?

 

A two-year-old child can learn to pack away their toys and items (with help), maybe not brilliantly yet with some assistance they can. They can find their shoes and socks, attempt to put them on, place dirty clothes into the hamper, and use a dustpan and brush (a bit).

A three-year-old child can do all the above better plus much more. They pack all toys and items away correctly, they can fold and place clothes into correct drawers, toilet themselves, organise boxes of toys, sort their shelves, start using utensils correctly, dress themselves, place items in correct places, and wipe over benches or tables. They love cleaning up with you.

A four-year-old child can also set the table, collect dirty utensils, plates, cups, and place them in the sink. They can wash basic items at the sink, maybe standing on a small stool, tidy up better, manage their own self-cleaning, dressing themselves, pour a drink, make a basic sandwich, learn how to use a knife and fork correctly, use their DS and the TV, and start learning to make their bed.

A five-year-old is a little person and should be fairly independent doing all the above, including make their own bed such as pulling up their sheets and quilt. They can start placing spreads, cheese, meats on to sandwiches or plates, setting the table, then clearing away the salt, pepper, sauce, and so forth, after dinner, putting placemats into the draw, and so on.

By six to eight years, they can assist cutting up vegetables or salad—under supervision. They love helping in the kitchen or shed and they can do a lot outside too.

 

Children love to wipe clean and polish, they can sweep or vacuum, pack items up outside. They can do it. Just look at the Junior Master Chef shows on TV, my goodness, those ten-year-olds are cooking like superb chefs. They can only learn that by doing, from instruction, by being allowed. Children can be so very clever. Honestly, who would have thought a ten-year-old can make a Welsh pie or Pavlova the way these kids can? It’s amazing. Just shows if they can do that sort of complicated thing, they sure can pack away toys, pick up their wet towels, fold their clothes and place them into the drawer, put stuff on or off the table, and help mix, cut, and prepare things in the kitchen. Let them try.

 

Raise the bar, and you will be surprised how well they can rise to the challenge. Set the bar low, then it is low you will receive, set the bar higher and higher is what they should strive towards.

And think about the older eight-year sibling in third world countries, raising their younger siblings, comforting them, collecting food and water, preparing meals. Scary thought in our world, but they do all this because they have to and because they can.

 

Children, therefore, can start looking after their belongings and doing basic little jobs from two years. The older they are, the more competent they become. Allow and expect them to, and they will.

 

So many parents complain because their child will not do anything or help out at home. If you encourage and show your child these jobs from the start, it will become a matter of course in their day, an expected behaviour like brushing their teeth. While it can be tricky to have them start from the age of eight to ten, it can certainly be managed and mainly by exchanging their required jobs for their sport or friends visits. Start, therefore, as young as you can and as soon as you can. Teach them how to do things properly, and they can learn this fast. If they object, then take something they want away; whatever they may want that you provide them. It may be a cooked meal so dish up perhaps a raw vegetable meal because you couldn’t be bothered actually cooking it. They will not like a raw meal as much as you do not like them refusing to do their required tasks. A compromise can be then be reached. I will when you will. Just like rewards, they work very well.

 

If your child starts to go to the big toilet you give them a stamp, no wee, no stamp. Is this not exactly the same?; yes it is. They need to do something in order to get something. We all do. If I did not want to go to work, I would not get paid. If I refused to do my assignment, I would not pass. If I didn’t pack away my toys, Mum would take them away from me. If I refused to do my jobs, I would not receive a nice hot dinner. For littler children, even keeping the bubbles or toys out of the bath for one night can give them the message.

Never, however, take away or remove your love, kisses, or cuddles. These are as unconditional as your love to them. Just because their behaviour may be difficult they remain the same gorgeous child as always.

The child is not the behavior; the behavior is the behavior.

 

Enable your child to become independent and self-reliant. They will be that way forever. They will be independent at school, at their friends place, at sport training, and everywhere. Your child will learn to rely on themselves through your guidance and opportunity.

Teaching Teens To Be Healthy

Teaching Your Teen to Be Healthy Without Emphasizing Weight

teaching teens to be healthyGoing through puberty is hard enough without having to worry about health and weight issues. Children are cruel to each other and verbally lash out making sure to point out other children’s insecurities and being a struggling teen is even harder. A teenager’s body is already going through so much change and if he or she has health or weight issues, on top of that it can make life very hard.

That is why parents need to keep open lines of communication with their teens and make sure to support them without adding to his or her problems. Communication and making one’s teenager feel good about who they are is the key to keeping him or her balanced. Struggling teens shut down and bottle things up keeping it all to themselves thinking no one will understand what he or she is going through. Leading by example is the best way to relate and keep communication with one’s teen helping them silently in the background. It is important to be the teens helping hand.

There are many ways a parent can help their struggling teen with his or her weight issues without voicing the problem. When one’s child was small it was easy to take them out to the park and play, or be able to relate to them on some level. However, as teens he or she is learning who they are and trying to do things on their own. Parents just need to find time to be there with their teens without making them feel they are intruding. Teens help others but rarely think of themselves.

Start with mealtime, parents can take a cooking class that will teach them how to cook healthy foods without letting on that it is healthy food. When it comes to cooking meals, take that time to have the teenager help with preparing the meal. By doing this the parent is spending time with their teen and teaching them how to eat and cook healthy foods. This also allows the teen time to open up and talk if he or she may have a problem. By being the teens helping hand things tend to go smoother.

Have only healthy and good foods in the house. When a teenager comes home from school or activities make sure to have good healthy snacks readily on hand. Teens are always on the go and this ensures the first thing he or she will grab is something that will help their bodies, not hurt them.

Keep your teenager active. Another good way to communicate and get your teenager active is to suggest the teen helping the parents to stay active. Invite the teen to accompany on walks, have them spot during workouts, ask them to accompany you to a swim. Do anything you might feel will interest the teenager and make it appear as if it were to benefit the parents health and make them feel welcomed. The teens help will be easier given if they are helping the parent.

Inspire, uplift, encourage, and always let your teenager know no matter what, they have the support of the parents. Inspire the teenager to be all he or she can. Uplift them every possible chance by giving praise for things done well. Encourage him or her to try new things even if he or she falls and let them know they succeeded no matter what.

By doing these simple little things, struggling teens will see there is hope and security in life. Having the teens helping the parents is in turn helping themselves. All of these suggestions guarantee open communication, a loving family life, and the security a teen needs to know that their parents will love and help them with any problem they may have.