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Dealing with a bully

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Bully Busting - By Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.

"He that respects himself is safe from others, he wears a coat of armor that none can pierce."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bullies are, without a doubt, the bane of the social world of childhood. Alas, they're everywhere & not always where you'd expect. They may be the stereotypical big, mean kids with short tempers & quick fists, or they may be quiet loners. They can be fat or thin, female or male, smart or not-so-smart.

Every one of us has been bullied at one time or another. In 3rd grade, I was small for my age & a girl named Audrey - note that I remember her name - used to rush up behind me, grab me around the waist & lift me off the ground.

In an attempt to humiliate me, she'd yell out to the kids on the playground, "Look how strong I am!" One time I kicked & screamed & flailed around until she put me down. She'd expected me to be a pushover, but I resisted more than she'd anticipated. That detracted from her show of strength. She never tried to make me into a human barbell again.

Your child needs to feel safe at home & at school & en route between the two. Introverted children can easily become targets for bullies, since they're more likely to be on their own rather than in a group.

In the past, we told children to ignore bullies or to just be nice to them. This isn't a good way to handle bullies. It doesn't work. Your introverted child will need help to be bully-wise. Don't sit back - take action if your child is being bullied.

As a parent, you can do several things to help.

First, be a good role model. Children who see violence & aggression at home can become a bully or the victim of one. Never verbally abuse or use sarcasm with your child.

Second, explain to your child that she can't solve bullying on her own - the number-one deterrent is adult authority. If your child feels threatened by a bully, tell her to ask for help from teachers, coaches, aides, or other parents.

Third, step in & tell bullies to stop, if you see one in action.

One great concept is an antibullying program called the McGruff Safe Houses. Individuals & stores sign up & let kids stop in if they're bothered traveling to & from home. If there isn't a program like this in your area, consider starting one at your school.

Staff & teacher training are also important because many teachers don't know the profile for bullying behavior. Schools need to send a message to students to show respect for everyone & support the children who are being bullied.

Students need to be encouraged to speak up for kids who are bullied. Ideally schools would establish clear behavioral expectations & consequences for bullying.

Bullies deplete self-esteem the way vampires suck blood. They feel better about themselves by making others feel bad about themselves. Their tactics are varied.

They may hit, punch, kick, tease, push, pull, pester, brag, taunt, harass, play mind games, frighten, heckle, insult, annoy, gossip, hurt, threaten, torment, start insulting rumors, ridicule, trip, pinch, act violent, and/or intimidate.

Bullies have short fuses. They interpret others' behavior as hostile & personal when it isn't.

There's scientific evidence today that some children are hardwired to be bullies. They have a high level of aggression & a low level of fear. If children with this particular wiring are treated harshly, they may become bullies.

Contrary to popular opinion, bullies aren't friendless - in fact, they're often popular leaders. Other kids find them exciting, fun & full of great ideas. They usually hold power over groups, often the "cool" group, which increases their influence & makes them even harder to deal with.

Nonetheless, there are strategies that your innie can use to avoid being victimized.

Bully-proof Your Innie

Teach your child how to spot a bully. Telltale clues: Bullies try to intimidate by standing close, talk in a loud, in-your-face manner, tease, may be nice one day & mean the next.

Explain that you understand that some kids are bullies & that she doesn't need to be friends with everyone.

Explain that absolutely no bullying should be tolerated. Always tell an adult.

Be sure your child has one or two friends - bullies sniff out loners.

Explain to your child that bullies may feel jealous if you do well at something. Your success means that a bully feels like a loser.

Teach your child how good friends behave & that bullies are looking to be top dog, not friends.

Teach your child to let the bully's cruel words, looks, or gestures roll off her back & not undermine her self-esteem. Remind her that bullying behavior is immature & suggest she picture bullies as big babies wearing diapers.

Innies don't have to have their feelings hurt. Tell her: Bullies want you to feel bad, so don't give them the satisfaction. She can practice her internal voice: "You can't hurt my feelings. I won't feel little just so you can feel big."

Kids appear stronger when their internal voice is an ally.

Tell your child to avoid groups of bullies.

Teach her to walk to a police station, post office, library, or other place where there are safe adults if a bully is bothering her.

Have your child take a karate or other type of self-defense class to gain the confidence they instill. Innies who stand tall, look self-assured, look aggressive kids in the eye & walk with confidence are less of a target for bullies.

Practice dealing with bullies at home with role playing. Teach your child to look a bully in the eye & say firmly, "Stop that!" or "Don't do that. I'll report you if you don't leave me alone." Tell her not to be afraid to yell. Remember, when in doubt, shout.

Tell your school principal if your child is being bullied. Many schools have instituted antibully programs.

Tell your child that it's good to bring bullying out into the open. It lessens a bully's power.

Tell your child that it's okay to be scared & upset but to try not to cry in front of the bully (that's what he wants). Better to stay calm & walk away.

Give the kids on your child's route a healthy treat when they're walking home or they get off the bus & chat with them in a friendly way. Bullies are less likely to torment a child whose parent has been nice to them.

Reprinted from The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. Copyright 2005 Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. Published by Workman Publishing; December 2005;$14.95US/$19.95CAN; 0-7611-3524-3.

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Bullying - Tips for Parents - By Derek Randel

Keith is now in the fourth grade and he dislikes school. For a fourth grader, this does not sound right. The reason Keith dislikes school though does not have anything to do with academics. Keith is being bullied before school, at school, and on the school bus. Who can blame him for not wanting to go into that environment?

The basic definition of bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person. Bullying involves crossing into one's space without permission.

Isn't bullying just something that happens to all children and we're just making a fuss over this? The children will get over it, right? Shouldn't we tell Keith to grow up and handle it? Wrong. Bullying happens to numerous children and adults shouldn't be ignoring it.

What Can A Parent Do?

If Keith is being bullied and he is not reporting it to his parents then there are some very important questions to address.

  • Why wouldn't he tell his parents?
  • What message have Keith's parents sent to him about bullies?
  • Does Keith's parents have a history of dismissing what he says?
  • Possibly Keith's parents have had a habit of getting too involved in solving his problems.

Tips for parents:

  • Encourage your child to report any bullying incidents to you.
  • Validate your child's feelings. It is normal for your child to feel hurt, sad, and angry.
  • Ask your child how they have tried to stop the bullying. Asking questions is a wonderful way to have your child do the thinking.
  • Ask how is he going to solve this. We want the child to do the thinking before we jump in. See how many options he can come up with.
  • Coach your child in alternatives: avoidance is often an excellent strategy, play in a different place, play a different game, stay near a supervisor, look for new friends, join social activities outside of school.

All of these things will help in developing new friends. Have your child do activities with children from other schools.

  • Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure they are aware of what is going on.
  • Encourage your child to seek help from school personnel.
  • Volunteer to help supervise activities at school.
  • Do not ignore your child's reports. Ignoring them sends the wrong message.
  • Do not confront the bully or the bullies' family.
  • Teach your child how to defend him or herself.
  • Teach self-respect.
  • Give numerous positive comments to your child.
  • Avoid labeling or name-calling.
  • Let your child know it is okay to express their anger. There are positive and negative ways to express anger, we want to teach and model the positive ways.
  • Let your children stand up to you now and then. It makes it more likely they will stand up to a bully.
  • Stress the importance of body language.
  • Teach your child to use "I" statements.
  • Teach positive self-talk.
  • Teach how to use humor, "out crazy" them.

For example, if the bully says to Keith, "Hey, boy you're ugly."

Keith can respond in a couple different ways:

  • "Thanks for sharing."
  • "Yes, I know, I always have been."
  • "Yes, today's lunch was disgusting."
  • THEN WALK AWAY.

  • You may also want to pick up and dropped your child off at school. This way they're not bullied going or coming from school.

There is many other aspects of bullying to look: Why you're the victim, why people bully, what you can do if you're bullied, signs your child is being bullied, what schools should be doing, handling the school bus issues. All of these are addressed in Make it stop!

How to handle bullying a new e-book you can receive FREE at

www.parentsmartfromtheheart.com

Teen accused of planting nuts in lunch of allergic classmate

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)An eighth-grader in Kentucky is accused of putting peanut butter cookie crumbs in the lunchbox of a classmate with a severe peanut allergy.

The allergic student did not eat the cookies Thursday at Morton Middle School in Lexington.

Fayette County schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall says the accused student was arrested on a felony wanton endangerment charge. The student will face charges in the juvenile court system.

Deffendall says it was well known that the other student suffered allergies. There was no known history of problems between the two 13-year-olds.

For those allergic to peanuts, trace amounts of peanut oil can cause severe reactions and even death.

This story is not the first that I've heard about food allergic children being tormented  by bullies, but it is still surprising. Or is it? There are always schoolyard bullies.

Sometimes they are classmates and, sometimes, they are teachers.

For the most part, I don't recall being bullied about allergies and there would have been plenty to tease me about. For example, in third grade, I developed hives on the backs on my legs after sitting on the wool rug we used for meeting. I was allowed to sit on the coveted "meeting pillows" of which there were only two. This special treatment did not endear me to my fellow third graders.

Another example, in sixth grade, we were reading about the Middle Ages and the text books we were using must have been from 1592 A.D.! I couldn't physically open my book without inhaling the dust, coughing and then developing hives from touching the book and then my face. They tried to find the least dusty one for me to use but it was no use; I just wheezed through stories of monks and Robin Hood.

When it came time for lunch, my food allergies were low risk, relatively speaking. I don't remember anyone taunting me with a brazil nut spread sandwich or waving a piece of grilled salmon in my face, mainly because a lunchroom would never serve those items nor did children normally bring them in their lunch pails. Since I'm not allergic to peanuts, peanut butter couldn't be my kryptonite and the stories of bullying I've read have mainly been about the peanut being used as a weapon.

Asthma was a different story entirely. I battled for years, not with other children, but with my physical education teachers. They didn't believe that my asthma was "real" and they ignored my asthma symptoms. I was forced to participate with my gym class in Central Park during the spring until I would wheeze.

Only then would I be excused. Years of doctor's notes and parent's notes and scores of asthma inhalers did nothing to convince them that I had a condition exacerbated by certain exercise outdoors during allergy season. In these years, no one thought to seek legal counsel to keep me out of gym class; a doctor's note should have sufficed, but it didn't. Isn't that a form of bullying? Certainly it is willful neglect of a child's medical condition.

Is it a sign of the times that peanut allergies have now become so commonplace and the media has done a such a great job of highlighting the very serious risks that children have now found something new to taunt other children with?

Truly, I don't remember being bullied by other children for being allergic or asthmatic. I don't remember feeling ostracized because of asthma or allergies.

I do remember knowing very well how to take care of myself: to carry my inhaler, to tell the teachers when or if I felt ill. I do remember being sick a lot and being out of school a lot, and for that there was some teasing. And of course I cannot forget Mr. O and Ms. Corcoran for being so clueless about asthma. But kids trying to put an allergenic food into my lunch? It just didn't happen.

What do you think? Do you have children with food allergies, asthma or environmental allergies?

Is more attention on these issues helping or hurting your allergic child?

Has your allergic child been bullied because of their allergies?

Or do you have children who, like me, deal with teachers who doubt the severity of their illness?

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Child Violence - STOP Bullying & Improve Your Child's Self-esteem - By Kathy Noll

Did you know that over 6 million boys and 4 million girls are involved in fights every year on school grounds? Many are physically threatened while a large number of students are also robbed.

Bullying has become a very serious "Hot" topic today. It's been in the news, and the theme of several talk shows in the past couple years. The problem has been around for as long as people have been around, but it's only been recently that we've become aware enough to do something about it.

What signs can parents look for to find out if their child is being bullied?

Mental and physical signs include: Cuts, bruises, torn clothing, headaches and/or stomach pains before it's time to go to school, or a reluctance to go to school, poor appetites, poor grades, decline/withdrawal from usual activities, anxiety, not many friends, always loses money, depression, fear, anger, nervousness, and relates better to adults and teachers than children.

It also helps to understand the different types of abuse the bully can inflict. This can vary from physical (juvenile violence) to verbal, and include mental control tactics. (Crushing your self-esteem).

The bully's pattern of physical abuse might include: pushing, tripping, slapping, hitting, wrestling, choking, kicking, biting, stealing, and breaking things. (80% of the time bullying becomes physical).

The bully's pattern of verbal abuse might include: twisting your words around, judging you unfairly, missing the point, passing blame, bossing, making you self-conscious, embarrassing you, making you cry, confusing you, and making you feel small so he/she can feel big.

Children between the ages of 5-11 begin using verbal abuse, and are capable of some physical abuse such as fist fighting, kicking, and choking. However, once a child reaches the age of 12, psychological changes take place and the bullying becomes more violent. This might include the use of weapons and sexual abuse.

Murder between children was up recently. Today's 3, 4, and 5 year-olds could grow up to be a generation of serial killers. Some signs to watch for in younger children include setting fires, and torturing animals.

Usually bullies come from middle-income families that do not monitor their activities. The parents of bullies are either extremely tolerant and permissive, and allow them to get away with everything, or physically aggressive and abusive.

However, the parents are not always the cause. There are many very loving and caring parents who do not understand what went wrong.
Other reasons why kids slip into their "bully suits" might include violence on tv/movies, and the influence of "bully" friends.
You can't watch your child while he/she is at school, so there is the possibility of him/her hanging out with a child (or children) of negative influence. Sometimes kids admire bullies for their strength, or befriend them so as to stay on their good side!

So if you're a wonderful parent knocking yourself for what you did wrong, understand what a strong influence other peers can have on your child.
Bullies need to be in control of situations, and enjoy (gain power from) inflicting injury on others. They are not committed to their school work or teachers and may also show a lack of respect towards their families.

Usually bigger and stronger than other children their own age, bullies believe that their anger and violent behavior is justified. They see threats where none exist out of paranoia, or fear of facing reality.

The bully might lash out at people because he's (or she's) angry about something. Maybe someone in his life is bullying him. He could be hurting from abuse he received in the past, or maybe he grew up observing those around him using violence as a means of settling differences.

Sometimes jealousy is the culprit. He needs to feel better about himself in order to change, and to stop bullying.
Or, in a worse case scenario, he might actually be a sociopath, in which case he/she would need to get professional help.

What can parents do to prevent their children from getting bullied?

Tell your children to walk or play with friends, not alone, and to avoid alleys and empty buildings, especially after dark. Make a list with the child as to where they are allowed to go, and places/phone numbers where they can get help.

Know your child's friends and make sure that everyone understands your view of teasing and violence. Maintain a trusting, open communication with your child while teaching him/her to be both strong and kind.

If your child is a victim, he needs to know that he's ok, and not the one with the problem. Have him tell his school guidance counselor the name of the bully who is victimizing him. Or you might try talking to the principal or his teachers directly. And if you know the parents of the bully, you might try confronting them as well. However, there's a good chance they'll either be in denial, or be as unconcerned as their child.

If physical abuse is the problem, and you're afraid of angering the bully (revenge), tell the teacher, or whomever, not to pass on your or your child's name while settling the situation unless it's absolutely necessary. There's a good chance he's victimizing other children as well, and won't need to know exactly who busted him.

Children who use violence to resolve conflicts, grow up to be adults who use violence to resolve conflicts. However, if a child is backed up against a wall, or into a corner, then he obviously needs to defend himself and should not stand there while getting pounded. He could walk (or run) away. But in order to escape conflict in the first place, the child should ignore, or avoid the bully. Don't play with (or for older kids "hang out" with) the bullies, and don't play or hang out "near" them. Teach your child to only fight back if he/she *needs* to defend himself - - as a last resort.

Young people need to believe in themselves in order to feel better. (self-esteem) Not by winning a fight, or even being part of a fight that he/she didn't initiate. In order to be a strong person, you have to learn what to say at the right time, and believe in what you are saying. ("I won't fight you because it is wrong" or "This isn't what friendship is about") Walking away from the fight, knowing you are the *better* person, is a lot healthier for the body and mind.

If verbal abuse is the problem, your child could try confronting the bully himself. Get him alone. Bullies like to show off by embarrassing you in front of a group of people. They might not be so tough without a crowd. Tell your child to be firm, stick up for himself, and tell the bully, "I don't like what you're doing to me, and I want you to stop."

If the child is old enough to reason, have him tell the bully how it feels to be bullied. Don't stress what the bully did, or the accusations might make him defensive. Then he'd be less likely to listen. If he's willing to listen at all, he might be willing to change. However, if he's unwilling to listen and starts getting nasty, your child is better off staying away from him, or ignoring him. But if his verbal abuse turns into threats, notify someone in authority.

Sometimes having things/property stolen victimizes a child. Putting your child's name on everything is an important thing to do. This means each and every crayon! It also helps to not allow him/her to take things of any major importance or value to school. Again, if nothing else works, have the bully reported.

For the past 10 years child on child violence has been increasing. Physical abuse, sexual harassment and robbery have driven many victims to substance abuse or suicide.
Don't let your child become a statistic.

Parents, it's time to take those bullies by the horns!


If you'd like to order a copy of "Taking the Bully by the Horns" by Kathy Noll & Dr. Carter, to teach your child the skills he/she needs to handle bullies, and maintain a healthy self-esteem, please send $16.90 (this includes S. & H.) to:
Kathy Noll
3300 Chestnut St.
Reading, PA 19605
E-mail address: kthynoll@aol.com
To learn more about these timely topics, please visit: http://hometown.aol.com/kthynoll

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