Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What to Do If You Receive Mean Texts, Tweets, Posts, or E-mails

This advise from the Committee for Children is sound, practical, and to the point. Please pass it on to every young person you know:


  • Never, ever respond to the message sender.
  • Report it as soon as possible to a trusted adult (and if that person doesn’t help, tell others until someone does).
  • Save or print the message to keep a record, then delete it from the phone.
  • Only keep contact information of close friends and family in their address book.
  • Talk to their wireless provider about how they can help (such as blocking the messages or changing their number).                                                                                                                     
For more information on dealing with cyberbullying, sexting, click on the link above.  You'll also find some great tips for parents!





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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Everything You Need to Know About NJ's New Anti-Bullying Law

Every school in the State of New Jersey is now required to enact what has come to be known as "The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights." What follows is an excerpt from a feature article I wrote for this month's NJEA Review detailing the responsibilities of every teacher regarding this important new law:

“They call me names every day and make me feel like I don’t belong. It never stops.” Her face dissolved in sobs, then the words I feared most: “I can’t face another day. Those kids who committed suicide . . . well, that’s what I’m ready to do.” This beautiful child, filled with promise, pushed to the brink by bullying at the tender age of 10.


“Shawna,” with help from her school counselor, is weathering the storm. But countless other kids are lost in despair due to bullying. According to the White House, 13 million kids are bullied each year, about a third of all students. Yet it’s not only bullied kids who suffer. All kids lose when bullying happens. Those who bully are more likely to end up incarcerated by age 30, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Bystanders are harmed too. “People who simply watch their peers get verbally or physically abused experience just as much, if not more, psychological distress as the actual bullying victim,” says School Psychology Quarterly. For these reasons and more, the Centers for Disease Control calls bullying “a major public health problem” and reports that 13.8 percent of students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months.


Yet many teachers don’t actually see bullying happening. It often flies under the radar, taking place in hallways, schoolyards, cafeterias, on school buses, in cyberspace, and other venues beyond the earshot of adults. Its presence is insidious, impeding learning and creating a climate of fear that can lead to depression and suicide.

Click here to read the complete article.


Click here for a complete list of anti-bullying resources including free, downloadable tools and lessons you can use in your classroom.

                               From NJEA Review, September, 2011


What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments” (ignore the number that precedes it). Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Book to Help Kids Who Are Bullied

I just learned about a newly-released anthology, "Dear Bully," by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones, a compilation of real stories from seventy authors who were bullied, or did some bullying themselves. It sounds like a must-read for kids, parents, and teachers.  I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

Here's a review of "Dear Bully" that appeared in School Library Journal:

This is a powerful addition to the growing collection of materials that deal with this pervasive issue. Young adult and children’s authors have stepped up and shared their own experiences. The stories, poems, letters, and comics are as different as they are alike; feelings of powerlessness, lack of support, and the sheer invisibility that they felt are themes that run throughout the selections, and yet each one is unique and moving. Many contributors talk about how writing became an escape from their pain and provided fuel for their creativity. Loners and misfits, popular kids, artsy types, you name it, they are here in these pages. Some are still raw from their experiences, many tell how they have moved on, and most writers assure readers that life does get better, that there is always something to look forward to. All of these stories feel authentic and honest, and readers will find a story or a person to identify with, to look to for comfort or guidance. As educators, parents, physicians, politicians, and children themselves struggle to address the issue of bullying in schools, in cyberspace, on playgrounds, or wherever, the power of real people telling real happenings about real issues is a valuable tool to wield. With some profanity and frank mentions of drinking, drugs, etc., this anthology is best for high school collections, though many of the individual stories would be excellent for middle schoolers.— by Jody Kopple


By the way, if you'd like to be inspired by a real-life "upstander" who took a firm stand against bullying, click here to read "She Said 'No' to Cyberbullying." There's a lesson in it for all of us!



What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” (ignore the number that precedes it). Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back from South Africa

And what a trip it was! We visited schools, an orphanage, a game reserve, and many, many sites in this fascinating country, including the profoundly moving Apartheid Museum. So many of the children we met were incredibly friendly and warm in spite of poverty, very difficult living conditions, and in many cases, the loss of a parent to AIDS.

I got the chance to speak with teachers in a number of schools, and it was inspiring to see how dedicated they were in the face of extremely challenging teaching conditions, including an almost total lack of supplies -- paper and pencils were about it for most, and books were sparse;  overcrowded classrooms with as many as 60 students and no support staff; poverty and a dearth of food for a large majority of their kids.  For many students the walk to school took more than an hour each way and was often done on empty stomachs. They would be fed when they got to school, then at the end of the day. No lunch or snack was available, and for many of the kids, these were their only meals. It's hard to imagine. Yet, there was an energy of hope and warmth, even at the orphanage we visited. The photos below, all taken in South African schools or at "Mama Mary's" orphanage, clearly reflect this.


A Pre-K classroom. The smile on the teacher's face was typical of so many people we met there.


1000 plus children, perfectly still for morning prayers. 
Preening for the camera
Precious little girls I met at the orphanage.

The shortage of books in South African schools prevents many children from being fluent in reading until they reach 7th grade. If you'd like to help, please go to Books for Africa which has shipped more than 24 million books to 45 African countries since 1988. These books are on once-empty library shelves, in classrooms in rural schools, and in the hands of children who have never before held a book. Think of all the books that sit in darkened storage closets in schools across the U.S. With your help these books could open a world of literacy to children in rural South Africa.

Click here to learn more about the Peace Train, the organization that sponsored this trip.

What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments” and write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Mother Speaks Out Against Bullying

“It’s a tragedy that shouldn’t happen to anyone,” said Wendy Walsh whose 13 year-old son committed suicide last fall after being brutally bullied for being gay.

To prevent this tragedy from happening to any other child, Wendy Walsh filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Justice Department investigated her complaint and discovered that Seth was a sensitive boy who, “for more than two years, was teased for looking like a girl, inappropriately touched, had food and water bottles thrown at him, became the subject of false sexual rumors and eventually stopped changing into his gym clothes because he felt threatened in the locker room.” They found the school district's lack of effective action to stop the bullying a violation of Seth's civil rights.

The Justice Department and the Federal Education Department censured Seth’s school district and demanded that they make immediate changes to stop the bullying. For full details read my Examiner article, “An Anti-bullying Victory.”

“It took my son’s life to make this change,“ said Wendy Walsh. She advises other parents not to stand still if their child is being bullied. “Know your rights, then make it stop.”

If your child is being bullied and you’ve tried to make it stop, but nothing’s worked, find out what you can do in the highly informative Bully Action Guide by Dr. Edward F. Dragan.

Wendy Walsh with a photo of Seth. Photo by Casey Christie

What Do You Think? To comment e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

The No Bullying Pledge

Introduce your kids to the No Bullying Pledge. Be they at home, at camp, in school, or any other place where kids gather, this needs to be the standard. Ending bullying starts with each of us, and the time to act is now. Please pass this on to every parent, teacher, or group leader you know:



                     The No Bullying Pledge

  • I will not take part in any actions  that purposely hurt another person.                                         


  • I will join with friends to stand up for kids who are being picked on. 

                                                   





To comment e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments.". Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

7 Steps to Bully-Proofing Kids

According to White House estimates, over 13 million kids are bullied across the U.S. each year, so it’s important to take pro-active steps. For parents, teachers, counselors, grandparents, group leaders, and anyone else with a child in your life, here seven steps to help you “bully-proof” the kids you love and care about:

1. Teach them to value their self-worth. Every child needs to know they don't have to look, act, dress, learn, or be like everyone else to be worthy of respect. Affirm their talents, strengths, and competencies so they can always remember who they are at the core, regardless of what anyone else says or does.

2. Teach them that they never have to tolerate cruel behavior. Sadly, kids who are bullied often believe they deserve it. They wonder if there’s something inherently wrong with them that causes the bullying. Teach them that bullying is more about the person who bullies than the recipient of it. And let them know that under no circumstances should they ever allow someone to purposely humiliate, threaten, shun, or harm them. If that happens, it’s critical that they seek the well-deserved support of someone who cares about them.

3. Teach them that asking for help isn’t tattling. Too often kids avoid telling adults they’ve been bullied because they believe that would be “snitching.” For whatever reason, there’s an unspoken taboo against “telling” among too many kids. Let them know they have the right to be emotionally and physically safe under all circumstances, and if someone violates that right, they have the right to ask for help.

They also need to know that if the bullying continues they need to keep asking support until it stops.

4. Teach them to avoid kids who are “trouble.” Sometimes our kids put themselves at risk by seeking the approval or friendship of kids who mistreat them. Tell them, "If someone doesn't like you, there's someone else who does.” As long as they have one person they consider a friend, that may be enough.

5. Teach them how to stand tall, look someone in the eyes, and say, "Stop," without whining, crying, or looking scared. Rehearse this with them so they can develop the ability to assertively stand up to someone who tries to bully them -- even if they’re shaking inside. Then, go on to Step 6.

6. Teach them how to walk away with pride. They don't have to stand there and take it if someone's directing mean words or actions at them. Role play with them how to stand tall with head held high, and walk away from someone who's trying to put them down. Walking away in this manner is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it takes the wind out of the person who's trying to gain power over you.

7. Keep the doors of communication open at all times, and take time to talk with them every day. That way, they'll be more likely to come to you if someone's bullying them, rather than withdrawing in shame and silence.

By the way, for the latest on what you need to know about cyberbullying, click here. 

Every child deserves to be respected.




What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” (ignore the number that precedes it). Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bullying and Conflict: Turning Things Around

Any teacher who’s ever had a class filled with bullying and conflict knows the challenge and frustration of getting through each day. Emily Voelkel of Houston Texas, is one such teacher. Faced with a 4th grade class who were at each others' throats continuously, Emily summoned up massive doses of determination, creative energy, and heart to deal with the problem head-on. She decided to use No Kidding About Bullying as her foundation for turning things around. What follows are her words, filled with so many creative (an moving!) ideas, I had to pass them on to you.


Emily's Words:

Your book is a godsend for teachers. I have passed it around among the people I know and will continue to do so. Teachers have so little time to pull a lesson together, and your book does it all. It even gives the exact words to say and ready-made worksheets. Not only did it help me focus, but it allowed me to be able to spend more time preparing for the kids. 


Before starting the book with my kids, I asked them to respond to these questions:


- How do you feel when you come to school?
- How do you treat your classmates/friends/teachers? How do they treat you?
- How do you feel at the end of the school day when you go home?



Here are some of the things they wrote:


"I feel depressed, sad and angry."
"This class is so mean. I don’t have friends.I just want to die."
 "Sometimes I wish I wasn’t even born because of the way I’m being treated."
 "Save me."
 "When I leave school, I feel very relieved that this nightmare is over."
 "Everyone hates everyone. I want it to be where everyone loves one another. It will feel better that way."



I put their words into a powerpoint presentation, then I gathered them in a room, turned the lights down, and read aloud their words. At the end, I played “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” had them join hands in a circle, and I gave each student a hug. I asked if they were with me as a team player in creating a more peaceful place every day, and they all responded “yes.” Some were in tears because they had never experienced anything like this before.


After that I worked hard to teach as many of the lessons as I possibly could. Because they were a difficult group, I had to intersperse the lessons with many, many hands on projects:

  • We took clay and formed a peace sign, let it dry and painted it. 
  • We made similar sculptures with wax. 
  • We painted pictures that represented a peaceful place. 
  • We made peace signs with beads and I melted them together with an iron at night. 
  • We made a peace pledge banner and they stamped it with their hands with paint. 
  • Every morning, I chose four students who were willing to step up to the plate and be a leader of peace for the day. They’d put on peace t-shirts I made them, and then I would say their peace pledge in the form of questions. They had to answer, "I do" after each statement.

Another project was picking a name out of a hat, then drawing a picture of something that person is good at doing, wrapping it in wrapping paper with a bow, and giving it to that person along with a note affirming their talent. 


I also had my kids choose a feeling: happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. They drew a portrait of a person with one of those feelings. Then I asked them to think about what they would say to a student with that feeling if they saw them in the hallway. I typed their responses and we pasted each one on the portraits. All the portraits went on a banner that we displayed.


I’m telling you all of this because as I read your book I was inspired to do so many things to bring the message home for my kids. I had students write to me asking if they could be the leader for the day. Every student begged to wear the t-shirt. On the playground, they used win/win to discourage their friends from bullying and, instead, work out their problems with each other. When they witnessed my frustration, they reminded me to breathe! I had a large banner that read, “This is what we are doing to create a peaceful Houston!” The students wrote all over the banner messages about the way their friends, teachers, and staff were creating peace. We posted it outside of the cafeteria. 


For the last week of school, I wrote a peacemaking presentation for my fourth grade students to perform for the 2nd and 3rd graders. We gave 3 performances that week. Administration, parents and the counselor came to see it as well. The room was decorated with all the artwork and sculptures that we made. I awarded students at the end who had always been good peacemakers and those who had improved the most.


The principal gave me a card thanking me for my efforts and the kids were excited about what they had learned. The kids learned good lessons and it made them start to think about how harmful their words can be to each other. It also gave them hope that they can work out their problems at school and at home. They started to understand that a school can be a peaceful place and that they can be instruments of change. 

Thank you, Emily, for sharing all of this! I know your story will give hope and encouragement to every teacher who has ever struggled with a class that can't seem to get along.

With creativity and heart, it's possible to turn things around.




What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments.”.Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting a Jump on the New Anti-Bullying Law

I just spent two days working with staff and students at Veteran's Memorial School in Union City, NJ, where dynamic principal, Catalina Tomargo, decided to start now in preparing her school for New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, set to go into effect on September 1, 2011. One of the most comprehensive in the nation, this law requires that all New Jersey schools have programs and procedures in place to address and prevent bullying for the coming school year.

We started by looking at the issues of conflict, anger, and name-calling, then we started exploring ways to get kids involved in school-wide sustainable efforts to stamp out bullying, which we'll continue to address in the fall.

After working with teachers, I visited many of the classes where we discussed the devastating impact of mean words and malicious put-downs. The kids spoke with great honesty, and admitted that no matter who you are, being called mean names cuts to the core. Many said that being the target of mean words made them feel humiliated, depressed, angry, and more. The pain in many of their faces was visible as they spoke.

We also talked about how important it is for every single one of us to be part of the solution to bullying and mean behavior. This is critical, especially in light of new data suggesting that one of the keys to reducing bullying in schools is making kids part of the solution. I'll be writing more about this in my next post.

Taking the bull by the horns, staff and students at Veteran's Memorial are already taking steps to reduce bullying and mean behavior for the upcoming year. Here are some of the wonderful anti-bullying posters the kids made to kick things off:

by Jean and Neurys


By Mayra and Kiara

What is your school doing to reduce bullying? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Research Sheds Light on Predictors of Bullying

Newly-released data by developmental psychology professor, Dr. Elizabeth Kelley shows that kids who have outbursts and show strong reactive emotions are are more likely to be bullied. "Unfortunately, I think this says a lot about adolescent behavior." says Dr. Kelly, "Bullies pick on the kids they think they can get a rise out of, and when those kids react strongly, they just tend to get picked on more."

Although her study was done on children with autism, there's a lesson in it for all of us. Kids who have trouble controlling their emotions risk drawing in more bullying and ostracism.

Kelley says emotional intelligence -- the ability to read and understand the feelings of self and others --  plays a big part in whether or not a child will be bullied. Ability to control emotions and make rational decisions is part of the brain's executive function, and when this function is weak, we see more impulsive behavior and hair-trigger reactions. A child's ability to use good judgment is compromised when executive function is low, and this can cause him to act in ways that work against his own best interests. We often see this in kids who exhibit fragility or aggression when bullied.

I've been working with a child who totally fits this description. "Raymond" has fairly severe ADD and was seen by most of his peers as annoying.  Impulsive and quick to react, he was bullied constantly. Raymond actually knew he was annoying, but seemed unable to stop himself -- at least initially. Over time, however, using the process I describe below -- Stop, Breathe, Chill -- Raymond was able gain control over his impulses and essentially put the bullying to an end. These results were so good they even surprised me! Here's how he describes the changes he experienced:

"When people are mad I give them some space now. That breathing technique you taught me helped me calm down and get myself together. Like I was really mad when this kid took the football the other day. I almost fought him, but I stopped myself and did the breathing technique and my calming statement: 'I believe in myself. I can do anything I set my mind to.' It worked. I'm learning how to cope with life now. I get in trouble less, and I have a lot more friends." 

The good news is that people of every age can learn to "change their brains" and become less reactive, just as Raymond did -- even those with autism and other disorders that compromise executive function. Recognizing one's emotions is the first step. Then comes learning strategies to quell reactions.

That's where Stop, Breathe, Chill comes in. It helps us move out of the reactive part of the brain (the "reptilian brain"), into the place of executive function, the neocortex. I described this strategy in an earlier post, but just in case your missed it, here again is how it works.

Using Stop, Breathe, Chill

The minute anger strikes, and your heart starts pounding faster, immediately give yourself the cue to STOP.  Say the word silently and flash a stop sign in your brain. As you do this, BREATHE --  three slow deep breaths, inhaling deeply and as though the air can fill your abdomen.

Next, CHILL by replacing reactive thoughts with a calming statement. The one I always use is, "I can handle this." Some people use a single word, like "Calm," others use a favorite phrase from a song or prayer, and others use a calming image or a word that represents it (beach, sky, ocean). Choose a calming statement that works for you, and use it every time anger strikes. By doing so we stop the reaction process in its tracks, and enable ourselves to choose a response instead.

Each time we use "STOP, BREATHE, CHILL," we train the brain to handle reactivity in a whole new way.  For kids this can spell the difference between being bullied or not.

Kids can be taught to control reactions that draw in more bullying.

What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Wisdom of Arun Gandhi

Icon, visionary, and bridge to the teachings of his grandfather Mahatma  Gandhi,  Arun Gandhi brought his universal message of respect and non-violence my area this weekend. With quiet passion Gandhi urged us all to find a place of compassion inside ourselves, and to always seek understanding in the face of conflict.

Continuously stressing his grandfather’s message: “We must be the change we wish to see in others,” Arun Gandhi called upon all of us to continuously live the principals of non-violence as an active, dynamic, preventive process – a far cry from the passive images the word “non-violence” sometimes connotes.

Gandhi addressed the issue of bullying on Saturday and urges students to protect and support peers who are bullied. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1934, Dr. Gandhi himself is no stranger to bullying. “I was beaten by white people for being too black, and I was beaten by black people for being too white.” Angered by these experiences, he learned from his legendary grandfather to channel the energy of anger into positive action, and he’s been teaching people to do this ever since.

By choosing to act with respect, regardless of how one’s opponent is behaving, Gandhi says we have the power to both short-circuit the cycle of violence and maintain our dignity. “Anger is like electricity,” his grandfather taught. “It can be just as deadly if we abuse it.” Dr. Gandhi revealed his own strategies for transforming the energy of anger into positive action:


  • Keep an anger journal. Mahatma Gandhi taught Arun to do this when he was young, and now he recommends it everywhere he goes. He cautions, however, that the journal must not be used simply to vent. The intention must be to find solutions to the problem. Herein lies the transformative power.
  • Do “mental exercises” to quiet the mind, such as silence and meditation. By doing so, Gandhi says we start to gain control over the reactive nature of our minds. When faced with anger, the control we develop through our practices enables us to choosea response in the face of anger, rather than simply react. Doing so can spell the difference between escalation and resolution.
  • Set an intention to be compassionate, kind, and respectful under all circumstances. Non-violence, Gandhi says, can’t be something we do only when we’re in the mood. We must live it daily though our words, actions, and the choices we make moment to moment. Changing the aggressive nature of our world depends on each of us. Says Gandhi, “If we don’t change, society will never change.”
  • Teach children responsibility through kindness and respect, not punishment. This is how Dr. Gandhi was raised, and the lessons his parents taught with quiet dignity remain with him to this day. He strongly urges parents to get off the fast track and spend more time with their kids, not indulging them, but lovingly guiding them through their own example of kindness, compassion, respect, and restraint in the face of anger.

Dr. Gandhi believes our schools need to change too. “Our education system is so geared toward teaching kids how to ‘succeed’ that we forget about building character. Children need to learn to understand and appreciate differences.” This, Gandhi believes, is the key to ending bullying.

He warned about the “passive violence” of emotional bullying. High School sophomore, Kaitlin Junod, who attended the Saturday workshop, sees a lot of emotional bullying at her school, especially among girls. “You don’t think of passive violence as much as physical violence,” says, Kaitlin, “but it can be just as harmful.” Fellow sophomore, Emily Hartwell, agrees but thinks it’s hard to intervene when someone you don’t know very well is being bullied -- you don’t want to end up being the target yourself.

Sixteen year-old Dustin Todd agrees that’s it’s harder to intervene with kids you don’t know, but says he always intervenes when friends are bullied. “Always be kind to people,” is his guiding principal. The lesson he learned at a Quaker school when he was young still sticks.

So what can we do to alleviate bullying in schools? Dr. Gandhi says this: “We all have to work together to support and protect each other. Do it not with physical violence, but with love and understanding.” He believes that the more kids and teachers who serve as upstanders, the less bullying we’ll see. “If you respond with violence, they (bullies) have greater power over you. If you respond with love and respect, they get lost and don’t know what to do.” Banding together for the common good, and teaching lessons in compassion all the way through may be our greatest hope. By doing so we may well live Mahatma Gandhi’s vision, becoming the change we wish to see in others.

A living treasure whose message we must heed.


What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments.”  Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fostering Empathy From the Start

Did you know that the more love and affection a person receives as a baby the more empathic they will be as an adult. Babies who are held frequently and whose cries are answered quickly became more caring people in later years. So say the findings of Notre Dame psychology professor Darcia Narvaez, in a group of studies she conducted on fostering empathy.

The higher parents were in "responsivity"-- responding to their baby’s needs and subtle nuances – the higher their babies were in moral development and in being attuned to the feelings of others. Says Narvaez, "Responsitivity is clearly linked with moral development. It helps foster an agreeable personality, early conscience development and greater prosocial behavior." So does disciplining with love, as opposed to disciplining in a punitive way.

Clearly, we must start early when it comes to raising empathic children. With bullying so prevalent, this is critical. Maia Szalavitz, co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — And Endangered, says, “Empathy is an innate capacity in most humans but it relies on certain environmental triggers in order to develop properly.” Parents are the most important “environmental trigger” at any age. Kids not only need to see their parents showing care for others, they need to feel the care and affection of their parents from the time they are born. “If a child doesn’t receive enough nurture early in life, she’s not going to learn to take pleasure in connecting to other people,” says Szalavitz, “and therefore she won’t share others’ pain, either.”

The ability to share the pain of others is often what stops a child from bullying. So, if we want to see less bullying, more kindness, we have to start when kids are young and continue as they grow.

Here are four things parents can do to start fostering empathy when their kids are babies:
  • Answer their cries. Don't make them wait.
  • Talk to them, smile at them, and make lots of eye contact.
  • Cuddle them as often as you can. The more time in your arms, the better.
  • Notice the subtle signals of their needs, and respond as quickly as you can. 
Showing lots of love will lead to greater empathy.

What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments.” Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

7 Ways to Prevent Bullying and Mean Behavior

Even "nice" kids can resort to meanness in today's contentious culture. Here are seven steps to take if you're a teacher or parent. They'll help cut back on mean behavior and bring about more kindness.

  1. Make kindness the expected norm in your class or home.
  2. Model, teach, reinforce and expect kindness, compassion, respectful behavior. If you’re a teacher, weave in a lesson a week and follow up. If you’re a parent, have family meetings to reinforce and problem-solve.
  3. Never look the other way when bullying or cruelty occur. Confront them immediately.
  4. Hold offenders accountable: have them make amends; give a consequence; follow up.
  5. Teach kids to be upstanders for peers who are picked on.*
  6. Teach your kids how to resolve conflicts and manage anger. **
  7. Give lots of positive recognition for kind behaviors: acknowledge, describe, reward, expect.

*   For a free downloadable lesson on teaching kids to be upstanders, click here.
** For steps to resolving conflicts, click here.


You can stop mean behaviors before they get out of hand.



What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Three Things Parents Can Do to Raise Kids Who Don’t Bully

Parents, did you know that by talking to your kids, sharing ideas together, and knowing your kids’ friends, you can better assure that your children will not end up bullying others. This is the finding of a new study released at the Pediatric Academic Society conference held on May 1st in Denver.

To find out which parental behaviors can cause kids to bully others, click here.

Talking and listening can make all the difference.




What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments" below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, April 18, 2011

Teachers: Make Anti-Bullying a Part of Your Day

According to StopBullyingNow, one of the most highly respected anti-bullying resources in the nation, one of the most important ways to put an end to bullying is to:

Focus class time on bullying prevention. It is important that bullying prevention programs include a classroom component. Teachers (with the support of administrators) should set aside 20–30 minutes each week (or every other week) to discuss bullying and peer relations with students. These meetings help teachers to keep their fingers on the pulse of students’ concerns, allow time for candid discussions about bullying and the harm that it can cause, and provide tools for students to address bullying problems. Anti-bullying themes and messages also can be incorporated throughout the school curriculum. Continue these efforts over time. There should be no “end date” for bullying prevention activities. Bullying prevention should be woven into the entire school environment.

If you'd like to get started right now, here’s a free downloadable lesson you can use that should take about twenty minutes. You can easily follow up in it by doing more role plays throughout the coming weeks, and asking kids periodically how they've been applying what they learned in the lesson:

Weave anti-bullying activities and concepts into the fabric of your day.

HOW TO BE AN UPSTANDER

Purpose:
- To motivate students to stand up for kids who are being picked on.
- To give students tools for being an upstander

Materials:
- Sign: “Each person has decency and goodness inside. If they listen to it and act on it, they
are giving the world what it needs most.” - Paraphrased from Pablo Casals

- Chart:   
The Dignity Stance
* Stand tall with your head held high, feet apart.
* Take slow deep breaths to keep your cool.
* Act as if you’re totally confident, even if you feel nervous.
* Keep your body language and facial expression strong but neutral.
* Make direct eye contact.
* Speak in a firm, steady tone of voice.
* Walk away tall and strong, silently repeating a calming statement.

- Chart containing the following words (blank spaces will be filled in with student
responses):
Steps You Can Take to Be an Upstander
1. Use “The Dignity Stance” to stand tall to help others.
2. Partner up. Have a friend to join you to confront someone who’s bullying.
3. Use deep breathing to keep your cool.
4. Rehearse your words.
5.
6.

Procedure:
- Direct attention to the following quote and have a student read it aloud:
“Each person has decency and goodness inside. If they listen to it and act on it, they are giving the world what it needs most.” - Paraphrased from Pablo Casals
- Ask students what the quote means to them in terms of helping
people who are bulled.
- Tell students that today they’ll be learning ways take action, and be upstanders for kids who are bullied.
- Ask, “What are you already doing to help when someone’s being bullied?” Discuss.
- Ask, “What stops you from helping?” Address kids’ concerns, emphasizing that each time we look theother way, we allow bullying to continue.
- Read the following quotes from real kids who are upstanders one at a time, and ask for responses:

* “It’s hard when you see someone being bullied for something they can’t help. If you’re
scared to help them, do it anyway. You have the right to stand up.”
* “I tell the bully to quit it. Then I take the person who was being bullied to another place, away from the bully.”
* “I tell the bully that what they’re doing isn’t right and they should stop. I ask them, ‘How would you feel if someone did that to you?’
* “I tell the bully to stop, and try to comfort the person who was being bullied.”
* “I help kids who are bullied by staying with them. I’ve learned that bullies don’t go after people if they have at least one friend.”


- Direct students’ attention to “Steps You Can Take to Be an Upstander”
- Go though steps 1-4 with students. Discuss each one and answer questions.
- Now ask students what other steps they think should be added to the list. Write top choices on the chart.
- If there’s still time, ask for four volunteers to role play the following scenario:
Jeffrey sees Tommy being bullied by Stewart on the playground. He asks Claire to partner up with him to help. They stand tall, breathe deep, think of words to say, and walk over. They ask Jeffery to hang out with them on another part of the playground.
- Debrief with class. How did it go? Discuss how this can be done in real life situations.
- Emphasize that each of us can help end bullying, and we don’t have to do it alone.
Copyright, Naomi Drew, wwwLearningPeace.com
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What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments”  below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Meditate Kids' Conflicts


If conflict among your kids the bane of your existence, you're not alone. As the mom of two boys, my sons and I were not strangers to conflict. Bickering, fighting, put-downs, and the like can drain time, energy, and peace from any parent's life. In fact many conflict among kids as one of the top stresses families face. 

If you've already tried intervening, ignoring, reasoning, and threatening to no avail, don't despair because help is at hand.   What follows are five practical but highly effective steps to help you help your kids work out the conflicts that are driving you nuts. Best to use with kids 5 and up, but modifiable for younger kids.

First, an important caveat.  Try this process in your own life first.  Then introduce it to your kids at a neutral time.  Expect that your kids might be resistant at first. This is normal, so don't give up.  The process below helped restore the peace when my boys were younger, and now that they're grown they still use it (even though they also resisted it initially).  It's like learning how to ride a bike -- over time, it gets easier, and before long, it feels perfectly normal.

 5 STEPS TO MEDIATING YOUR KIDS' CONFLICTS:

 1.  Have them cool off first. The number one mistake adults make is trying to get kids to talk out the conflict while they're still mad.  You've probably noticed that this doesn't work. Think about yourself in the throes of anger or hurt - how impossible it feels to talk things out right away. Rational solutions require clear minds.

 Give your kids time to calm down before asking them to talk.  Separately, have them take some time out, get a drink of water, or do something physical to let of steam. When tempers are calmer and tears are dried, sit down with them and go on to step #2.

2.  Set the tone for listening.  Tell your kids they're both going to have a chance to say what's bothering them, but they're going to need to listen respectfully to each other without interrupting. Then ask each child to state what's bothering them, starting from "I", not "you."  Example: "I'm mad ‘cause you grabbed the remote control without asking," This is a lot less inflammatory than, "You're so mean!"  (By the way, be sure to teach them how to start from "I", not "you" ahead of time.)

3.  Paraphrase what each child said.  Hearing you paraphrase what was said teaches them how to do the same.  As your kids get used to hearing words paraphrased, start asking them to "say back" the main idea of what each other said.  Let them know that "saying  back" doesn't indicate agreement, but shows respect, builds understanding, and makes it easier to work out problems.

 4. Now ask this question:  How can the two of you work out this conflict?  Then wait.  Don't jump in with a solution.  If they're over five, they're perfectly capable of coming up with their own solutions.  For younger kids, offer several suggestions for them to choose from.  For kids over five, give them time.  Walk away if you have to, and let them know you have faith in their ability to work out the problem in a fair and respectful way.

 5.  Have them tell you the solution they came up with.  If it's is an ongoing conflict, write down the solution, have them sign it, and hang it up.  Affirm them for working out the problem, and let them know how proud you are that they used their creativity and energy to make things better.

Most importantly, let your kids see you working out conflicts in a similar manner. Modeling is your most powerful teaching tool.  Also, let your kids know that you expect them work out problems in a fair way.  By teaching them how, showing them through your example, then guiding them through the process when problems arise, you'll be preparing them to do this independently. You'll also be providing a tool they'll be able to use for the rest of their lives.


Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict. - Dorothy Thompson


What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Put an End to Bullying in Your School

“While disciplining the perpetrators is likely a necessary step, it often is insufficient. A school’s responsibility is to eliminate the hostile environment . . .”
                                                           - from the new US Department of Education anti-bullying regulations

Dear Friends,
With new federal anti-bullying regulations being put in place across the US, plus the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which requires all NJ schools to implement anti-bullying programs by September 1, 2011, I am offering a new series of workshops on preventing and addressing bullying:

Workshops: Prevent Bullying In Your School:
- Staff Training: Preventing and Addressing Bullying in Your School
- Administrator Training: Preventing and Addressing Bullying in Your School
- Class-by-Class Workshops: How to Be Bully-Free
- Parent Workshop: Bully-Proofing Your Child
- School Counselor Training: Helping the Bully, Bullied, and Bystander
- Implementing the New Federal Anti-Bullying Regulations
- NJ only: Implementing the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights in Your School
- All other States: Creating an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights in Your District

Since the demand is so high, I am booking these workshops on a first come, first served basis. You can e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or call 609-397-8432.

School Library Journal has named No Kidding About Bullying “an essential resource for preventing bullying.” It’s also a low-cost way of preventing and addressing bullying school-wide. For more some free downloadable lessons from No Kidding About Bullying, and for more information, click here.

And now, read on to see what’s possible.

In peace,
Naomi

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THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF BULLYING

No educator would ever say, “We’ve covered math this year. Our school had a great assembly, then every teacher did a lesson, so now we're done." Unfortunately that's what happens with the issue of bullying far to often.

To prepare kids for their role as responsible members of our society – and to get them to stop harming each other -- it’s essential that we teach them how to treat others with decency and respect. Brutal incidences of bullying in schools across the U.S. have shown that we have little time to waste.

So what can we do? The first and most important step is to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s not just about punishing kids who bully, it’s about creating school climates that are antithetical to bullying and other cruel behaviors. Kids want this just as much as adults do. A national survey I ran of over 2100 kids revealed that 73% of the kids surveyed believe their peers are somewhat to very mean to each other. A whopping 80% said they want to learn more about managing conflict, anger and bullying.

The only thing that’s going to change schools from places with undercurrents of gratuitous cruelty to places where respect is the norm, is by teaching compassion, kindness, and acceptance as deliberately as we teach reading and math. These values need to be integrated into the very fabric of learning every day of the year.

This has to be done in homes too. Schools can’t do it alone.

Imagine every member of school staffs acknowledging kind acts as soon as they take place, calling kids on mean behaviors the minute they occur, and following up with a consequence -- no exceptions. Imagine weekly lessons taught on compassion and acceptance, and kids becoming upstanders for peers who are picked on after practice through role play.

All of this is possible. Remember the days when smoking was considered cool? Then, after years of anti-smoking campaigns, kids finally got the message that smoking isn’t cool at all –- in fact, it’s downright damaging. The same thing can happen with bullying. Picture kids speaking up rather than joining in when peers are picked on, and  all the social capital going to the upstanders, rather than the kids who are mean.

This is actually happening in schools that have made a building-wide commitment to creating climates where all kids feel safe and respected. By modeling, teaching, expecting, and reinforcing kindness, compassion, and respect -- and settling for nothing less -- a distinct shift starts to take place. Before long kindness is more “in” and “cruelty more “out.”

The academic and interpersonal rewards that follow are beyond measure: “higher grades, engagement, attendance, aspirations, scholastic competence, fewer suspensions, on- time progression through grades, higher self-esteem and self-concept, plus less anxiety, depression and loneliness,”according to a synthesis of national data compiled by the prestigious Search Institute.

Kids want our help. They want to go to school in an atmosphere of peace and respect.  If we make this a priority, we can make it happen, and kids need us to make it a priority now. It’s time to move beyond bullying and cruelty. Let kindness be the new norm.

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What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .”  If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Top 4 Things Parents Can Do for Bullied Kids


1. Listen to them and empathize. Don't minimize the hurt they've been through, but don't make them feel like a victim either. Hear them out, then ask them how they might want you to help. Encourage them to speak to their teacher or counselor, and see if they want you to reach out to them too.

2. Help them see their own strengths and personal assets. Is your child kind, funny, helpful, interesting? Remind them of whatever positives they have -- even write them down so they have a concrete manifestation of their pluses. Are they good at music, sports, math, or something else? Whatever it is, encourage them to spend more time on their areas of talent. Doing so will give them back some of the energy bullying takes away while providing a healthy outlet.

3. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. If they're spending too much time alone, do whatever you can to be there, stay present, and continue giving support. If they're depressed and withdrawn, take them to someone who can help, even if they resist.

4. Help them rehearse what they're going to say and do when they see the people who bully them. Role play and rehearse together so the assertive actions and words won't feel foreign to them when it's time to stand up for themselves.

By the way, did you know that many kids who are picked on because of a physical "flaw" seek cosmetic surgery? It's a growing trend. To find out more, read my latest Examiner article.


What Do You Think? To comment, e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com. Or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Teens Stamping Out Cyberbullying

When we hear the word "cyberbullying" we immediately think of all the bad things kids are doing through the internet, cell phones, and videos. On the bright side of this looming social problem, however, is an amazing network called  TeenAngels. These are kids ranging from 13 to 18 who have voluntarily been trained in internet safety, security, and other pertinent issues, who take their knowledge on the road, literally and figuratively. The brainchild of Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.com, TeenAngels, and their younger counterparts, TweenAngels -- 7- to 12-year olds -- speak to schools and community groups about cyberbullying and other internet safety issues, plus conduct research and write articles on these topics. Here's just a smattering of some of the wonderful articles they've written:

- A Victim Among Us?
Be an upstander and become a TeenAngel.
- Cyberbullying                                            
- Priming Parents for Online Perils
- Making the Internet a Safer Place

Wow! Now that's what I call being upstanders!  If you know a child who's being cyberbullied, you can also take them to StopCyberbullying, another of Aftab's excellent sites, for information and support.

Stamping out cyberbullying!
Let's get more kids onboard. TeenAngels and TweenAngels -- we need to multiply you a thousand times over!!


What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments” (ignore the number that precedes it). Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Starting When Kids Are Young

Eight years ago I had the pleasure of speaking at a very special school in Albertville, Alabama, several hours south of Birmingham. Big Spring Lake Kindergarten School was configured decades ago as a place where young children of all races could come together to learn under one roof. Big Spring Lake proudly has proudly continued its tradition of peacemaking and acceptance, teaching all their children that "we're the same inside." The peacemaking program that started at Big Spring Lake has since spread to other schools in the district. Veteran teacher, Wanda Pollard, recently gave me an update on some of the many things Big Spring Lake, and other schools in Albertville are doing to promote peace, tolerance, and kindness:

"I provided some pictures so you could see the lasting  effects your work has had in  our school system.  Our kindergarten students have said the peace pledge  every morning  as a total school -- led over the intercom  along with the pledge to the flag -- for the past eight years! Teachers continue to make the teaching of peacemaking skills an integral part of the curriculum.  We have witnessed the effectiveness of this teaching as students learn to actively use conflict resolution skills. I look forward to continuing to learn to provide students with the skills needed to enjoy a peaceful life . . both in school and out! 


This picture is painted on a wall in the main office next to the principal's door. Its prominent display lets students, parents, and visitors know the importance our school places on teaching and practicing peacemaking skills:  


                                  
Conflict resolution guidelines used throughout the school
                                                                                           



Thank you, Wanda, for your inspiring words! And thanks to all the teachers, administrators, and parents who support the work of peacemaking. You're doing what all schools need to do each day: educating children to be peacemakers in a world desperately in need of peace. May your work continue to spread.
Qualities of peacemakers taught to children school-wide









What Do You Think?  To leave a comment, e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com or click on the word “comments." Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Tool For Managing Anger

We all get angry. It's part of being human. The problem with anger is how people handle it. Some of us hold it in, only to explode later. Others explode right away, then regret what they said or did. And some of us try to push our anger down, only to have it leach out in some inappropriate way -- blame, resentment, coldness, and more. And in kids, anger can lead to bullying. (I don't like you anymore, and I'm going to tell my friends so they won't like you anymore either!)

The truth about anger is that we always have a choice in terms of how we're going to respond to it. We actually need to make friends with angry feelings that arise in us, accepting that we're going to get angry from time to time, and when we do, we can choose a healthy way to respond. The best strategy I know for responding to anger is called "STOP, BREATHE, CHILL."

Here's how it works. When anger strikes, and your heart starts pounding and palms get sweaty, take the first step and simply STOP. Say the word in your head, and instead of going forward into the anger, flash a stop sign in your head, and as you do, BREATHE --  three slow deep breaths -- inhale deeply and picture the air going right into your abdomen. In fact, as you inhale, expand the lower abdomen as though it were filled with air.

Next, CHILL by replacing reactive thoughts with a calming statement. The one I always use is, "I can handle this." Some people use a single word, like "Peace," others use a favorite phrase from a song or prayer, and others use a calming image or a word that represents it (beach, sky, ocean). Choose a calming statement that works for you, and use it every time anger strikes.

Each time you use "STOP, BREATHE, CHILL," you'll be training your brain to respond to anger in a whole new way. In the process, you'll actually be forming a new neural pathway.  In time, you'll find the old reactive patterns having less of hold on you. Not that all angry feelings will fade away forever, but  "STOP, BREATHE, CHILL," will help you gain distance from the old patterns, and greater control over your reactions.

Here's what several 5th-graders reported after learning how to use "STOP, BREATHE, CHILL:"

"Knowing how to stop, breathe, and chill really helps me handle my anger. I can control myself better now. Before I would do things when I was mad that I would feel guilty about. Sometimes I'd end up getting punished. Now I calm myself down and make better choices. I feel better about myself now."


"I use Stop, Breathe, Chill whenever I get mad now. It really helps me. The other day I was on the basketball court and a player shoved me. I was going to shove back, but I thought about the consequences and decided to stop, breathe, and chill instead. I told myself it wasn't worth fighting over, and it wasn't. I was able to lead my team to victory instead of being called out on a foul for fighting."

"STOP, BREATHE, CHILL" can help people of any age choose a response to anger, rather than simply reacting to it. In the process we actually can make friends with anger, allowing it to guide us to a new way of being.


   

 





What Do You Think? To leave a comment e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments.”  Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Focusing on Peacemaking


I just lead an anti-bullying workshop for parents at the wonderful Bradford School in Montclair, NJ. This is a school completely dedicated to peacemaking, and it shows. From the thousand paper cranes hanging in the halls, to the Peacemaker of the Week bulletin board proudly displayed with pictures of all the kid who have earned this honor, the kids at Bradford are learning that kindness is cool, and compassion is the way to go.

More on what's happening at Bradford in future posts. What are you doing in your school to promote peacemaking and anti-bullying? E-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com and let me know.


What Do You Think? To leave a comment, click on the word “comments” (ignore the number that precedes it). Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ways to Foster Kids Who Don't Bully

Recent research tells us that kids who bully all share one thing in common: They lack empathy. If you're a teacher or parent who wants to help kids resist bulling, here are four things you can do right now:

1. Name your feelings and help kids name their own. Kids who lack empathy are often completely out of touch with how other people feel, and how they themselves feel too. They might be able to identify basic emotions like happy and angry, but, beyond that, they may be completely clueless. They need your help to tune in. Naming and identifying feelings is one of the first steps in developing empathy.

2. Model respect and compassion even when you're angry. Kids who bully tend to be hot-headed and easily frustrated. Help them learn to manage anger and frustration through your own example. One respectful, compassionate way to express angry feelings is to say something like this: "I know you're feeling frustrated right no, but what you said made me mad. I'm taking a few minutes to cool off. Then we can talk about it.

3. Call kids on mean words and actions of any kind.  Whether directed at a sibling or peer, don't ignore cruel behavior. Say something like, "That was really unkind," or "I felt so upset seeing you treat your brother in such a mean way." Then have them think of ways to make amends to the person they've hurt.

4. Seek out books, videos, and TV shows with characters who exhibit compassion and respect. Look for real life models too. Name the positive qualities you see and discuss them together. Kids need exposure to more and more examples of people who are decent, kind, compassionate, and respectful. Since they learn primarily through imitation, we need to help them have good examples to imitate and emulate.






What Do You Think? To leave a comment, e-mail me at Naomi@LearningPeace.com, or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is Your Child Bullying Someone?

So many of us are concerned about kids who are bullied -- and we should be. But what about the kid who's doing the bullying? There's cause for concern here too. Did you know that kids who bully are at greater risk for getting in trouble with the law later in life? They're also at risk for school failure, troubled relationships and substance abuse.

What can you do if you suspect your child might be bullying? According to StopBullyingNow, "Requests to aplogize, self-esteem building, asking why, pleading, and expressions of frustration are unlikely to help and may make things worse. Here's what they recommend you do instead . . .

Ask Useful Questions:

- What did you do"
- Why was that a bad thing to do?
- Who did you hurt?
- What were you trying to accomplish?
- Next time you have that goal, how can you meet it without hurting anybody?

(from StopBullyingNow)




Additionally, it's important to help kids who bully gain empathy, conscience, and a sense of responsibility for their actions. If your child is bullying someone, let him know how it makes you feel, and then talk together about how he can make amends. Ask, "What can you do to make up for the pain you've caused?" Then, hold your child accountable and make sure he follows through. By doing so you'll be helping him and the child he's been hurting.

What Do You Think? Since it's so hard to leave comments on this blog site, drop me a line at Naomi@LearningPeace.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

News You Can Use Right Now

If you're looking for hands-on strategies on preventing bullying and conflict in your classroom, you can sign up for a live webinar I'll be doing on March 24th. Here's the information. Hope you can join us!


 Bullying Prevention and Conflict Resolution: Tips and Strategies You Can Use Today

Here's what we'll cover:
- Ways to foster kindness and compassion
- How to help kids be “upstanders” for peers who are mistreated
- Six steps for working out conflicts 

Time: 4:00 Eastern time, 3:00 Central
Cost: $25.00 
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A Strategy for Fostering Compassion and Helping Kids Disavow Mean Words

Using a "Memory Bank" is one way to help kids grasp the impact of mean words. Here's a wonderful description of how to use this strategy from 4th grade teacher Melissa Shanahan of Cedar Bluffs Elementary School in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska:

Our fourth graders have been doing activities from No Kidding About Bullying. These activities are designed to help students manage anger, resolve, conflicts, build empathy, and learn to get along. One of the activities is about creating memory banks. The lesson talks about how our actions today may affect how people remember us in the future. I talked about how when we treat someone poorly we create a bad memory for them. The students wrote down mean things that had been said to them. Next, I read the comments. Then the students put the mean comments into a box called a "Memory Bank." While the students answered questions I shook the box loud in front of them. They said it was too hard to concentrate with all the noise in their ears. I told them that people who are treated poorly may have that going on in their heads all the time. It's really hard to think when you have bad thoughts of things people have said to you floating around in your head. We then threw away the  bad thoughts and filled the box with positive ones. I explained that it would be nice if our brains could do that, but they can't, and what we say ad do today can affect the way feel about us and themselves in the future. As a class we are working hared to create a positive memory bank for the people in our lives. A parent recently told me that one of my students referenced creating  a positive memory bank for someone at basketball practice.


We've also made posters to hang around our school with the new definition of cool from No Kidding About Bullying, how to be an upstander, and using kind words. I've been sending home a letter a week so parents can know what we've been working on in class. I'm hoping they will reinforce this at home.


I've had several parents thank me for working on these skills with the class. It's really nice to have something to refer to when there are problems in the classroom and on the playground. Using the word "upstander" and reminding my students of the memory bank seems to help. I'm excited to try the rest of the lessons.


Thank you, Melissa, for sharing this. We look forward to hearing more from you!

One More Thing: 

If you're an educator in the state of New Jersey, here's another workshop I think you'll be interested in:

Hope to see you there!!!


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