Posts

Bully Pointing And Laughing At Boy

Bullying: Helping the Child who is the Bully

Written by:
Erilda Borici, LCPC
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Clinical Advisor for Mental Health and Counseling

The last days of summer are quickly approaching and that means that school is just around the corner. While many kids are looking forward to seeing their friends and teachers again, there are some kids who are dreading the return to school. For children and teens who are bullied, returning to school means having to endure endless teasing, name-calling, exclusion, threats and for some, physical aggression. It can be scary for these kids that experience consistent bullying at school. But what about the child who IS the bully?Bully Pointing And Laughing At Boy

Bullying is defined as “unwanted aggressive behavior among children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power”. (Stopbullying.gov) The bullying is persistent or has the potential to be repeated over time. It can be verbal, physical, social/emotional or sexual. It can take place on the playground, in the cafeteria, in the classroom, in the neighborhood or online.  Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 US students say that they have been bullied in school (CDC). As we all know, it’s a prevalent problem, and while there have been so many great initiatives on how to help bullying victims, there is not enough information on the children who bully, why they do it, and how to help them stop.

Approximately 30% of US students have admitted to bullying someone. (CDC) If we think about how “the bully” is portrayed in movies and TV, we often see images of the angry kid who has low self-esteem. This is not always true. A child who bullies could also be the quiet, honor student, the happy, popular cheerleader or the student council member. Appearance really doesn’t have much to do with it and children who bully can be of any income level, race, family situation, gender, or religion.

Research shows that some of the reasons why children bully are:

  • Lack of empathy, perspective taking, and compassion.
  • Have poor social skills.
  • Might be bullied themselves.
  • Witness/experience aggression at home from parents or siblings.
  • Want to be “cool” or be part of a group that encourages bullying.
  • Quick to blame others and struggle with accepting responsibility for their actions.
  • Might be struggling with depression, anger issues, anxiety.

How to help children with bullying behaviors.

It’s important to start changing the language of how to refer to these kids. Using phrases like “once a bully, always a bully” can be really damaging. Sticking someone the term “bully” does not help prevent bullying. Bullying is about behavior which means that it’s about making a choice. Here are some tips on how to help support and teach children about stopping behaviors that are hurtful to others.

  • Teach your child about bullying from an early age. It’s important to talk to your child about how to treat others with respect, kindness, empathy and most importantly acceptance. Accepting that others might be different than us but that everyone is deserving of respect.
  • Teaching responsibility and accountability. Bullying is not caused by something the victim said or did. Children with bullying behaviors can become good at making excuses or blaming others for their actions. It’s important to help these children recognize the impact of their behaviors and take responsibility for their choices.
  • Provide clear consequences. Kids who are bullying others at school should be held accountable for their actions. If your child is bullying, take immediate action on providing clear consequences and discussing that the behavior is not tolerated.
  • Role-playing is a great tool to use to help model for kids how to resolve conflict, problem solve and manage difficult social situations. You can take turns playing the child who is doing the bullying and the victim to help your child see a different perspective.
  • Talk to your child about cyberbullying. Today, a child or teen has many choices on how to connect with friends and a lot of it is happening online. Many kids use social media platforms such as Instagram, and Snapchat to communicate and connect with their friends. While these apps are a lot of fun, they also provide opportunities for cyberbullying. It’s important to have a conversation about online safety with your child and to discuss some guidelines. Create a code of conduct such as:
    • Do not use social media to humiliate or embarrass someone.
    • Treat others online with the same respect that you would in person.
    • Do not post photos or videos of someone without their permission.

Continue to check in with your child about their online activity and review safety guidelines.

  • Talk with School Personnel. If your child is exhibiting bullying behaviors or if you are concerned that might in the future, reach out to the school and discuss these concerns with a school social worker or principal. Find out if your child’s school has a bullying prevention program or perhaps offers social skills groups that target teaching perspective taking, empathy, managing conflicts, and cooperation.
  • Provide positive feedback. When you notice your child is resolving conflict positively, responding with compassion and empathy or can effectively problem solve a situation, praise these behaviors. Positive reinforcement works wonders and is usually more effective than punishment. Providing your child with positive attention is crucial and will make your child feel confident and secure. Children who receive positive attention at home will be less likely to seek negative attention at school.

 

References:

stopbullying.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2018.
<https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html>.

National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement – PDF,  2011.

Pacer Center, Kids against bullying. https://pacerkidsagainstbullying.org/

Bullying Warning Signs

Bullying is an ongoing concern for parents, care givers and teachers. How to tell if your child is being bullied can be difficult, as bullying can take on many forms. The act is a deliberate imbalanceblog-bullying-warning-signs-main-landscape of power; and can be physical, emotional, sexual or verbal.

Having a working knowledge of warning signs is essential for supportive parenting. If your child has some of the warning signs below, it is not a guarantee that they are being bullied. Open and honest dialogue with your children will provide more insight into the potential causes of some warning signs.

Below are a variety of warning signs that could signify your child is the victim of bullying:

  • Noticing your child has damaged belongings; this can span from clothing, to book bags, to text books, etc.
  • Unexplained physical injuries like bruises or cuts
  • Tendency to isolate from friends and peers
  • An increase in anxiety or fear related to attending school and often will explore opportunities to miss school (i.e. Excuses, faking sick, etc.)
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns; suffers from frequent nightmares, poor appetite
  • Appears sad, upset or angry when returning from school
  • Decrease in academic achievement
  • Health concerns; most often frequent stomach aches, headaches, etc.

Beginning a discussion with our children about bullying can be challenging, as many kids tend to shy away from disclosing this information. The most essential component is that as a parent you remain calm and supportive, not reactive to what your child discloses.

There are several questions below to guide a conversation related to bullying:

  • There has been a lot of bullying in the news lately. How does your school handle bullying? Tell me about a time you saw someone being bullied, or experienced it yourself. How did you handle it?
  • I’m worried about [insert behavior/symptom/action]. I’m wondering if you could tell me more about what is going on?
  • Tell me about your friends this year. Who are you spending time with, and what do you like about them?
  • Who do you spend time with at lunch and recess? Tell me about your bus rides home. With whom do you sit?
  • Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?

If your child discloses that they are being bullied, it is essential that you remain calm. Overreaction can result in regret of disclosure or a tendency to limit discussing such content in the future. As a parent, the strongest role you can take if your child is being bullied is to provide support and care, validate to your child that this is not their fault and that you are here to love and support them.

At times, children can be very hesitant about disclosing bullying due to fear of retaliation. If you notice concerning symptoms, but your child denies, it is appropriate to reach out to your student’s teacher and express concern.

The following questions may provide greater insight into your child’s experience during the school day:

  • With whom does my child interact on a daily basis?
  • Tell me about my child’s peer interactions. Which are going well? Are there any you find concerning?
  • Have you noticed any behavioral changes within my child over the past [days, weeks, months]?
  • What is one thing my child does very well in school, and what is one concern you have for my child.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, beginning dialogue and providing a safe non-judgmental space is the first step in supporting your child. If you have greater concerns, or have information that your child is being bullied, it is important that this be addressed as soon as possible. Reach out to your school, principals, teachers, and notify them of your concerns. Provide your child with support and listen when needed, and if appropriate, provide the access to a licensed mental health provider for additional care.

References:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/

http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_warning_signs.page

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

Building Self-Esteem in Children

Building Self-Esteem in Children

A child’s self-esteem is very important as it helps with his daily successes. If a child is able to start off the day with a positive outlook then the child will be able to follow directions in class and become a better learner. A child can build self-esteem by forming and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends and other people he comes in contact with, for example, teachers, therapists and other adults. A child can also build self-esteem when he hears positive praise, when he does something good or when he is able to learn and master new skills. Often times a barrier can be placed in front of a child that will cause him to lose his self-esteem. Negative comments from people such as adults or bullies are the fastest thing that can tear a child down.

How can we teach our kids self-esteem?Building Self-Esteem in Children

  1. Praise the child
  2. Be there for the ups and downs. Use the down times for teaching and educating.
  3. Accept the child for who they are
  4. Allow the child to be themselves
  5. Don’t just celebrate the wins but teach from the loses

Is there a point where you are being too positive and too much of a cheerleader?

Children need to know that they are supported in every arena they enter. When it starts to hinder the child is when realistic expectations start to be forgotten and children are expected to do things that are over his head. Too much cheerleading can cause the child to lose hold of what is expected and what is required. There needs to be a fine line with building positive self- esteem and enabling children.






what to do when your child is a bully

Help! My Child is a Bully

 

 

 

Parenting is no easy feat as your job entails educating your child on how to make good choices, recognizing and maximizing your child’s innate capabilities, and teaching the skills necessary to appropriately function in society. While under your tutelage, your child’s behaviors, both positive and negative, can often times feel like a direct reflection of your own character. It is not a wonder that parents will instill within their child their core values and beliefs with the desire that their child emulate similar characteristics. But what happens when your child displays negative, bullying behaviors? What does that say about you? How do you aid your child in demonstrating the socially appropriate and expected behaviors you work so hard to teach?

What to do if your child is a bully:

  1. Make sure that your child is aware of the underlying message and meaning behind right vs. wrong behaviors. Don’t just say, “Don’t hit, it’s bad.” Explain the reason why this behavior is negative. “Hitting is not right because you could hurt someone’s body or their feelings; how do you feel when you’re hit, etc.”
  2. Teach your child what to do instead of the negative, non-preferred behavior. Besides just telling your child not to hit or push because it can impact another person’s safety, arm your child with what they can do instead when they feel mad or frustrated. For example, if your child feels mad when he is confronted to share a toy, you can educate him on the importance or turn taking, collaborating with others, or simply using his words vs. his body to communicate his dismay. Practicing effective communication skills regardless of age can help reduce negative behavioral reactions and facilitate appropriate compromise and negotiation skills.
  3. Operate with positive reinforcement instead of consequences. Motivate your child to access pro-social behaviors through the usage of a behavior chart. The incentives received from positive behaviors may provide the external motivation necessary to implement the impulse control required for appropriate decision-making necessary.
  4. Check in with your own feelings about your child’s behaviors. Know that you are working hard to assist your child in adjusting appropriately in various situations and try to stay calm when your child makes an unfavorable choice. Get down on his level, express why the choice he made is unfavorable, and provide examples for what he can do to correct the behavior (i.e. apologize, use his words, share the preferred item). Encourage your child to re-work the problem to gain a positive framework for what is expected of him in the future.

Read here for tips on turning a bully into an ally.

Bullied Kid

How To Handle A Bully

 

 

What do you do when your child comes home and reports being picked on in school? Whether the child expresses frustration with a peer who calls him names, systematically leaves him out, or even intimidates him to trade parts of his lunch, it is important to educate your child how to advocate for themselves and set up appropriate boundaries within their social environment.

  1. Bullied KidEducate your child on what is considered “bullying” so they have a frame of reference what is and is not tolerated behavior. In addition to using the classic definition of bullying which entails “aggressive behavior in which an individual intentionally or repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort,” according to Psychology Today, it is important to discuss real-life examples of what may be considered bullying. For example, maybe a peer is not pushing or hitting the child but rather is incessantly asking for the good treats in your child’s lunch. The consistent intimidation might be enough for your child to relinquish their brownie or favorite chips to get this individual off their back. Teach your child that if handing over their treat doesn’t feel right or is not something they want to do, they should not. The child can then recognize their boundaries and from here, implement self-advocacy skills to assert their thoughts and needs.
  2. Communicate. Teaching your child to recognize their boundaries is the first part in handling a bully. Once the child recognizes that what they are confronted with is not “tolerated behavior,” the child can then implement an “I feel” statement to communicate their needs.

-I feel:

-When you:

-Because:

-In the future:

This statement allows the child to feel more objective in the communication process as they insert what it is they are thinking, feeling and needing out of the situation. This is an assertive and non-aggressive. The child in this stage communicates their feelings and puts a halt on the negative behavior or interaction. Once the child states their need, if the bully does not stop, teach your child to remove themselves from the triggering situation, engage with identified “positive peers” to avoid the bully, and access an adult if the negative behaviors continue.








Peer pressure

How To Deal With Peer Pressure

Strategies to teach your child to manage pressures within their peer group 

Being a child can be challenging as you deal with navigating choices about friends, social appropriateness, and ways to feel accepted. Children are confronted with a number of messages about the world through their parents, their friends, and the media and at times it can be tough coordinating choices that satisfy all three sources. How can we teach our children to manage social pressures that they know are incorrect or can elicit negative feedback or consequences?

1) Work with your child on creating value system. When a child knows their values and sets of expectations, it becomes clear what choices would align and what choices would counteract their value system. When we make choices in line with our value system, we feel good about our decisions and can anticipate positive feedback or praise. If we make decisions that go against our core values, we experience consequences or negative feedback. For instance, if it is within a child’s value system to treat others with respect, it might feel strange for them to follow a friend’s advice to talk back to a teacher.

2) Teach assertive communication. Children may feel uncomfortable communicating their needs effectively to their peers out of fear that they may be seen as aggressive or mean. Instead, assertive communication projects a firm boundary in a calm tone. Assertive communication looks like:

“Please stop, I do not like that.”

The message is clearly stated in a non-threatening and calm tone. It is expressing a need and should not risk an overtly, escalated response from a peer. If a child were to yell this message or say it in a mean tone, the message changes and can appear aggressive. As long as the child remains calm and reasserts their message, appropriate reactions from others will ensue. Encourage your child to practice assertive communication with you when they are not happy with a directive in lieu of yelling or experiencing a large, upset reaction.

3) Work with your child on identifying positive qualities that they look for in friends. In this conversation, help your child come up with at least 5 traits that are important in having a friend so as to separate those who do not fit this mold. This will help your child decipher between peers vs. friends and how to choose individuals to spend their time with who embody traits that make them feel comfortable.


Turn a Bully Into an Ally

What is one seemingly positive characteristic of a bully?

Great leadership skills. They can gather a group of followers and move in a pack to accomplish a lot.  Most bullies use this skill for negative outcomes, but think of what good could be accomplished if we taught bullies to use this strength for good?

We need to teach bullies that great leaders have certain qualities.  Bullies can be taught that they are great leaders, and great leaders use their leadership skills for good.   The bully can be taught this by the assignment of positive leadership tasks.  For example, assign the bully to a time of day to make sure each and every kid is taken care of.  At lunch, the bully ensures each child has food and is not eating alone. If she is, charge the bully with finding a solution.  At PE, have the bully ensure each girl is picked first on a team at least once and gets to be team captain at least once.

Once the bully feels the power of leading for good, she may just become one of the best leaders and members of the class.  Make strong powered kids into true positive leaders and see more leaders and team players blossom!

For more on handling bullies, read Mean Girls and bullying Boys: How Parents Can Help, and How to Include Bullying In Your Child’s IEP.

How to Teach Your Child about Bullying

The beginning of the school year is a great time for parents and guardians to talk with kids about bullying.  Bullying is a problem which affects millions of children and teenagers.  It takes place in many forms: physical, verbal, psychological/social and through means of social media.  Read on for several tips for talking to kids of any age about bullying.

Tips for talking to kids about bullying:

  1. Teach assertiveness.  Model and teach your child peaceful ways to solve problems.
  2. Teach empathy.  Talk to your child about helping others and taking action if she observes someone being hurt or hurting themselves. This is only if the situation is safe to do so.  Help build empathy in your child by talking about examples from television, movies and books.  Ask your child how she thinks others must feel in the various scenarios.
  3. Hold children accountable.  Teach your child that if she is watching someone being bullied, then she has a responsibility to tell someone; otherwise this hurts the victim also.
  4. Get to know your child’s friends.  Encourage your child to invite her friends over.
  5. Be a good role model.  Model these skills whenever appropriate.

For more bullying resources, click here to watch our Bullying Webinar or click here to read about including bullying in your child’s IEP.

Reference: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/bullying/teaching-kids-about-bullying/what-to-teach-kids-about-bullying

When Friends Are A Bad Influence on Your Children | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode a Licensed Professional Counselor provides tips on what to do if our children are influenced badly outside of the home setting.

 In this video you will learn:

  • When a parent should discuss bad influences with the child
  • How to best approach the bad influence situation
  • What is the best way for the child to handle the situation

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m standing here with Marnie Ehrenberg, a
licensed professional counselor. Marnie, can you give us some
advice on what to do when our children are hanging out with bad
influences?

Marnie: Sure. I think it’s a topic that comes up a lot across the age
groups, and I think it kind of depends on the age, but for older
kids, I think that your first step should not be to say, “You
can’t hang out with that person.” I think that that makes that
person really desirable. I think that talking to your kids about
how to make good decisions is really important, and as well as
reinforcing that you have your own family rules, and if another
person they want to hang out with doesn’t follow those kinds of
rules or jeopardizes that, that they need to learn how to say no
and how to end it.

I think giving them a chance to be able to make those decisions
on their own and see if they break any rules is important. And
then at that point, then you can decide if you’re at the point
where you’re going to forbid them to see somebody. But I think
it’s important to talk about how your family works and how other
families work and keep that integrity in your home.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Marnie. And thank you to our
viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Teaching Your Child To Care

Teaching your child to care for others is an important role that each and every parentgirl caring for friend carries.

Often, people assume that compassion is a born instinct, but it can also be taught. Yes, all people are born with some level of a “caring gene”, just as Babe Ruth was born with a talent to play baseball. However, if Babe Ruth was never introduced to baseball, never taught the rules of the game, never tried to play, then what good would his natural talent have been? Everybody can be taught to feel for others; you just have to start teaching them while they are young and continue teaching them by example!

Here Are Some Tips to Help Your Child Learn To Be More Compassionate:

Start Young

  • Start teaching your child to care for others as soon as they are able to communicate.During play-time, role-play with your baby on dolls. Show them how to hold, hug and care for the doll. Even pretend the doll got hurt and show your baby how to comfort the doll. Playing with your child and a doctor’s kit is another great way to show your child to care for others and how one person makes another feel better.
  • It’s also important to teach your child in the moment. When at the playground or on a play-date and your toddler’s friend falls down or gets hurt, bring it to your toddler’s attention. You can say to your toddler: “Oh no, Joey got hurt, and is very sad. I think it would make him feel better if you gave him a hug”. This will ensure that when your child is in preschool, he or she will more likely be the kid who helps his or her friends instead of running past them when they get hurt.
  • Just as teaching your children to care for those who are hurt physically, it’s equally important to teach your child to be aware of those who get hurt emotionally. Let your child know that it is not okay to hurt other’s feelings. This will prove to be vital when your child is in grade school and Bullying begins.

Lead by Example

  • Parents are the first teacher a child ever has. Everything a parent does, their child is watching, taking notes and learning from. Show your child how to be compassionate. When you see a homeless person on the street, stop and give him/her some spare change. Afterward, explain to your child why you helped that person. How there are people out there less fortunate. Let your child know that there are children who may not have as many toys as your child. Ask your child how it would make them feel to not have all the things he/she has.
  • Often, people get frustrated when they have to pull over to let an ambulance or fire-truck pass by because it delays them to their destination. Instead of getting irritated, say out loud how you hope the ambulance or firemen get there in time to help those in trouble.

Find Local Places to Visit

  • Along with leading by example, you can help your child become caring and compassionate by actually working with those in need. Many nursing homes have programs where you can bring children to come and talk to residents.
  • You can also take your child to a soup kitchen to help serve people in need. Let your child feel good about helping others!
  • Have your child bring a bag of toys to a children’s home to give to less fortunate children. There are plenty of websites that offer information on places and ways you and your child can help. Below are a couple of examples:

 http://www.redcross.org/volunteertime/ and http://www.volunteermatch.org/

So go ahead, turn off your T.V. and video games and go out with your child into the world to make a difference!

I welcome any comments on more opportunities for children to “care”!