Posted in being assertive

Prepare yourself: Know what to do if that dreaded day arrives when your child tells you they are being bullied

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 2 February 2015

 

Pretending to be sick to avoid school, to coming home with new bruises and refusing to do homework -  may sound like your typical child, but these could also be signs of bullying. Many parents fear that their child could be a victim and it's not always easy to know when it's going on.
When I was studying for my Master's Degree I did a lot of research into bullying. Personally, the most devastating fact that I found was that teachers are usually the last to know that a child is being bullied. Thankfully this is not because we are incompetent, or we don't care but I still subsequently put my hand up to rewrite the bullying policy at the school I was working at to help the children to know what to do if they were bullied.


 How can you tell if your child is being bullied?

Bullying hurts. Children who are bullied can experience a range of negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, bedwetting, social withdrawal, lack of friends, loneliness, dislike or avoidance of school, poor academic performance and suicidal tendencies.

Look for:

  • changes in behaviour, an outgoing child who becomes withdrawn, a child who had achieved night time continence may start wetting the bed, or changes in eating habits
  • Increase in aggressive behaviours or bullying of siblings
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Increase in physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or pretending to be sick so they can stay home from school
  • Lost or destroyed property
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
  • School avoidance or lack of interest in school work
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Reduced social contact with friends or loss of friendships


 What if you feel their behaviour has changed and you suspect it is because of bullying?

In that case it could be a good idea to start a conversation. Ask if there are any children who are being mean at school to the kids in his or her class? Tell  them stories of some things that happened when you were at school. This could help them open up.

 Why do some children try to hide the fact that they are being bullied?

Because they are embarrassed or believe if they tell someone the situation will only get worse.

What are the first steps a parent should take when they find out their child is being bullied?

Remember that bullying is different to 'kids being mean'. Bullying is when one person or group targets another repeatedly.

 

  • Find out as much as you can about the situation (who is involved, how often it occurs, who knows about the bullying) then reassure your child that this is not their fault (bullying can be like a form of brainwashing where children begin to feel that they some how deserve what is happening).
  • Contact the preschool or school. Ask about their bullying policy and get the school to clearly outline how the situation will be managed.  Ensure that there are regular follow-up meetings until you have reached a positive resolution.
  • Get your child involved in activities that encourage independence, assertiveness and healthy peer relationships (e.g., sporting teams, cubs or scouts, dance, drama club).
  • Encourage your child to behave assertively in threatening situations by teaching them specific skills such as responding to name calling (having ready and rehearsed responses is always helpful), making assertive statements ("That's fine if you think that but I do not agree"), and getting help from their peers (it is important that children feel they have someone who they can count on).
  • Teach them  to use body language and non- emotive responses....  such as standing up straight and looking the bully in the eyes and appearing  bored.
  • Teach compassion. Being bullied is not the child's fault. The bully has a problem with something in his/or her life.
  •  Ask them what they have already tried so far to get what they want. The child might say that they asked them to stop and the child who was being mean didn't listen.
  • Ask them what has worked, what they have seen others do/ what would a "role model" do?
  • It is often easier for children to imagine someone else (maybe another child at school/kindy, or a character or sports star that they like and respect) dealing with the situation first. The next step is to imagine themselves doing the same.
  • Ask your child what they teach them to do at school/kindy. Many schools are presently using the simple but effective High 5 Method. This is a problem solving method taught in schools to foster resilience, improved relationships and wellbeing of children.

Sometimes children aren't being bullied, but see it happening to their peers. What can they do to help?

Encourage them to be active bystanders.  E.g.  tell the bully to stop or they will report it. This is actually reportedly one of the best ways to stop another child being bullied.

Posted in: being assertive bullying what to do if my child is being bullied What to do if my child is being a bully anxiety symptoms  

Are you letting your children run feral? Michael Carr-Gregg thinks so!

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 20 October 2014

Wowww! I personally have a lot of respect for Michael Carr Gregg. I always think his solutions to parent's dilemmas are very practical, sensible and effective. That is why I was VERY surprised to read this report. It sounds like he has just had enough! I have added some ideas to help you say no at the end.

Following is a report written by Sarah Sedghi
A prominent Australian psychologist has warned Australia is currently raising a generation of spoilt brats, because their parents are "crap" and "never say no".
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes today's parents have a lot to answer for, and there may be serious long-term consequences for Australia.
Dr Carr-Gregg attributes the rise of poorly-behaved children to five major parenting problems.


"The first [problem] is that there are too many parents being doormats for their kids. They have got what I call a vitamin N deficiency, which is a failure to say no.
"It's incredibly important that parents set limits and boundaries and I don't know that that's happening at the moment."
Dr Carr-Gregg identified the "helicopter parent" as another "model of crap parenting" he was targeting in his work.
"The high-strung, control-freak parents that want to smother their kids with so much love and attention and monitoring and supervision that they never, ever develop any self-reliance and can't solve their own problems later on."

 

The Australian psychologist said he has seen ample evidence of the consequences to these types of parenting, not just in his own clinic but in schools around Australia.
The short-term consequences you can see in restaurants, waiting rooms and airports, these kids who are just completely feral, running out of control.
"We've had people moving to these artificial villages called cities, primarily to get jobs and in doing so, a lot of the kinship networks have been destroyed.
"A lot of the wisdom around parenting, which was derived from grandparents, for example, has no longer been so readily available."
The consequences of bad parenting has both short- and long-term effects, warned Dr Carr-Gregg.
"The short-term consequences you can see in restaurants and in waiting rooms and in airports throughout Australia, where you have these kids who are just completely feral, running out of control.
"Parents don't do anything about it because they're frightened of being seen as bad parents or frightened to say no."
Dr Carr-Gregg said this style of parenting has major effects on the mental health of children and adolescents as they grow up.
"Long-term, I think what we're doing is infantilising a lot of children into incompetence."

 

I think, from speaking to the parents that I work with that the real difficulty is to KEEP saying no. I would like to outline a couple of reasons why it is so important to  persevere:


1. Children feel safe and supported when strong and fair boundaries are in place.
I always say to parents, imagine  being 2 or 4 or 6 or even 12 knowing that you always get to make the decisions and that you are in charge. It would be a bit scary wouldn't i? When children feel safe, knowing that a strong and fair adult is in charge, they can learn more, do more and are far more likely to develop at an age appropriate rate.

2. Saying no to your children will not harm their self-esteem.
In fact, research suggests that children with more freedom  have lower self-esteem,  whereas the clearer the rules and limits set by parents the higher the child's self esteem. Remember self esteem = feeling good + doing well. NOT just feeling good. Expect your child to follow your rules and meet your expectations and surprisingly, they will actually feel better about themselves!

What to do: Start small. Ask yourself some questions. What do you think your child needs to learn right now? What boundaries do you need to put in place to help them learn this?  Make this the area where you can be firm.


3. If  you feel as if you are saying no to everything, try this:. Find a way to 'yes'
On many occasions, children ask us for something, and we want to say no. Try using if . then or when .. then statements instead. For example, your child may ask, "May I watch T.V?"  Instead of saying no, you can reply, "When you finish your homework.. then you may watch T.V."

I hope you fing these ideas helpful as you continue to take a stand and say no.

Posted in: being assertive Michael Carr - Gregg Saying no to children Children not listening to instructions parenting tips  

Trust yourself: You're the expert on your child

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 12 March 2014
Dr Stephan Cowan's 10th insight for you is:

 

One of the most important things I teach new parents is how to trust themselves. Nowhere is this more daunting than when a new baby comes into our life. We’re expected to know everything and yet we feel like we know nothing. But children have taught me that this knowing-nothing can be a real opportunity to open our powers of intuition.
Mindful parenting begins by listening with an open heart to your child’s life without fear or panic. Studies have shown that a mother’s intuition is more powerful than any lab test in picking up problems. Unfortunately today we are flooded with so much scary information that it interferes with our ability to listen to our own intuition. (Just think of the arrogance of a doctor who acts like he knows your child better than you do!)

Take a tip from your baby. Look into your baby’s eyes. Imagine what it feels like to be conscious of the world before you have language, before all those labels that scare us and divide things into good and bad, right and wrong. Babies have no enemies. This is seeing from the source. It is what Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” Watch closely how your baby breathes with his belly. This is Qigong breathing. Stop thinking for a moment and try breathing this way. You may just find the answers you need waiting for you there.
 

Posted in: being assertive parenting tips anxiety  

How you and your child can cope with bullying

Posted by Dr Kathrine on 8 January 2014

Here is the second article on how to cope with bullying written by Dr Kathrine for Drynites Australia. They have asked me to share them with you. I was very happy to do so, please let me know if you are finding them useful as they have many to share. www.drynites.com.au.

Spotting the signs

Children can go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are being bullied.  They may do this because they are embarrassed or believe if they tell someone the situation will only get worse.  So how can you tell if your child is being bullied?
Keep in mind not all children who are being bullied will show warning signs and some of these behaviours may also be indicative of something else going on in your child’s life:

  • Look for changes in behaviour, an outgoing child who becomes withdrawn, a child who had achieved nighttime continence may start wetting the bed, or changes in eating habits
  • Increase in aggressive behaviours or bullying of siblings
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Increase in physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or pretending to be sick so they can stay home from school
  • Lost or destroyed property
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
  • School avoidance or lack of interest in school work
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Reduced social contact with friends or loss of friendships

What should I do if my child is being bullied?

  •  Find out as much as you can about the situation (who is involved, how often it occurs, who knows about the bullying) then reassure your child that this is not their fault (bullying can be like a form of brainwashing where children begin to feel that they some how deserve what is happening).
  • Contact the preschool or school.  Ask to see the bullying policy and get the school to clearly outline how the situation will be managed.  Ensure that there are regular follow-up meetings until you have reached a positive resolution.
  • Get your child involved in activities that encourage independence, assertiveness and healthy peer relationships (e.g., sporting teams, cubs or scouts, dance, drama club).
  • Encourage your child to behave assertively in threatening situations by teaching them specific skills such as responding to name calling (having ready and rehearsed responses is always helpful), making assertive statements (“That’s fine if you think that but I do not agree”), and getting help from their peers (it is important that children feel they have someone who they can count on).

Encouraging your child to stand up for others

When victims of bullying do tell someone, it is most often their friends, followed by their parents, with teachers often being the last to know. Children who are witnesses to bullying are referred to as bystanders.  Bystanders have three main roles, they can assist and encourage the bully (bully assistant), they can passively watch the bullying (witnesses), or they can actively intervene to support the victim and try to stop the bullying (defenders).  Bullying, when confronted with a caring and responsive peer group is significantly reduced.


How can you better prepare your child to help and support victims or bullying? 

  •  Discuss with your child what they think bullying is and get them to think about how the victim feels when other children are mean to them.
  • Consider what forms of discouragement would be appropriate without making the situation worse or putting your child at risk.
  • Rehearse or role-play possible bullying scenarios.
  • Discuss how your child may get other children to show their disapproval with the bullying.
  • Talk about safe and unsafe situations, helping you child know when it is important to involve a teacher.
Posted in: being assertive bullying parenting tips anxiety stressed children getting along  

How to help your child manage worries and anxiety 2

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 19 October 2013
Some ideas for teaching children how to understand or manage their fears realistically, test their validity, and become less reactive to anxious feelings.

1. Make sure you understand the child's fear before trying to help them with it

Listen carefully to your child as she explains what's bothering her. Don't jump to conclusions -- and don't assume that saying "Don't worry" will help.
For children who are reluctant to explain their fears, it may be helpful to have them draw a picture.
You might ask him to rate the fear on a 10-point scale.
Don't discount the worry. Acknowledge the feelings while giving the child information. Age-appropriate books on the worrisome topic can help. A child with fears about storms, for example, might benefit from reading about lightning and other weather phenomena. Sam (named changed of course) was a 9 year old boy who had a fear of sharks. He would cry uncontrollably if he glimpsed a picture of one. His parents gave him as much information as possible about sharks and recently he even watched Jaws! He is currently looking forward to a school trip to Underwater World where he will have the opportunity to feed them.
Books about the worries of other children can be especially helpful. Having your child read about how another child dealt with similar fears can help to foster a discussion about worries.


2. Devise a technique the child can use to "banish" scary thoughts

Your child might imagine writing words on a whiteboard or tablet -- and then rubbing them out. Or he might imagine putting the scary thoughts in a box and putting it on a shelf or burying them in a hole or sealing them in a rocket and then blasting it into space. A younger child might feel better by having a “conversation” with a puppet who offers to take the worries for them.


3. Make up a plan to assist them in fearful situations

If your child dreads going to birthday parties for example you could get them to take one of their friends to the party so they don’t have to go in alone, Or you might plan an early leaving time, which can help a child feel that she has some control over the situation.


4. Teach relaxation techniques

Yoga, deep breathing, and other self-calming techniques are highly effective.
Some kids have developed their own ways to calm themselves when they feel worried. Ask them what they already do to self soothe. They might hug a pillow, listen to a recorded story or music, play with a pet or favourite toy. Remind them to do these things when worried as they might not realise that they have already devised their own strategies.
A parent that I have been working with recently told me about the following great set of books called Imaginations: Fun relaxation stories and meditations for kids by Carolyn Clarke www.imaginationsforkids.com

5. A couple of books about worries

Worried No More, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Up and Down the Worry Hill, by Aureen Pinto Wagner
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst


Warm Regards,
Meg

 

Posted in: being assertive anxiety dealing with disappointments worried children stressed children  
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