Monday, June 9, 2014

No Bullies... Yes for childhood

It has been almost a year since I first posted about how we need to address emotions with our children in regards to bullies.... I had received a lot of feedback and statistics related to why the suicide rate is so high among the victims of excessive bullying... and I understand this...
since then many famous people have jumped on the No Bulliess theme, which is good...
For those that may have a child that is struggling with this as the receiver of the bullying and harassment. Please take note of what I would suggest you do to monitor your child.
1. Be inquisitive. Your child will not share what is going on.. (too painful to talk about)
2. Open ended questions.. not ones that can have a yes or no answer...
3. Check Facebook and other social media sites.. to keep a pulse on what is happening.
4. If concerned, get help.. and ask your child who they can talk with if not you (the parent).

There is a line between being concerned and overstepping sensitive adolescent boundaries.. Do not use concerns to justify invasive actions.. but if the signs of excessive bullying exists then do not ignore.

Bullying will never go away.. mean girls, low man on the totem pole, and many other terms have been used for years.. but what I am discussing in this post is the excessive harassment that invades all areas of a child's life.
 I have spoken about this a few times in counseling sessions but have been hesitant to put my thoughts down on paper.... until now. This needs to be addressed from a parents perspective. While also changing the way we handle the bullies in our children's and our own lives.
Every few months we hear about individuals of all age groups and genders that have chosen suicide as a way to escape the bullying in their lives.  THIS is not about blaming the victim.. and I understand the deep loss these families bear...
     This is about how we deal with the fall-out. We want to stop the bullying so this doesn't happen.. I am not pro-bully.. practically speaking bullying has always been around in one form or another.. In this technologically connected world.. the reprieve is not there as it has been in the past... this does make it harder to cope.. reasons for this will be discussed in another post.
     We cannot turn back the clocks of technology.. we need to send the message to our children. that they can handle mean things and actions of others.. they may never stop the bully but they can learn to handle it..
     Parents have become so overly involved in their children's lives that many have crossed from caring and nurturing to rescuing and over involved. This sends the messages that:
  1.  you can not handle life and any attack on your feelings is to much for you to deal with
  2.  the painful events of normal life need to be avoided..
  3.  emotions are what you base your decisions on

The messages that needs to be sent are:
  1. as you grow up.. you can handle what life throws at you including mean people
  2.  we need to support our children on the road of hard knocks. not rescue them because it is hard for us watch and to deal with.. that isn't parenting.
  3. teach our children to over ride impulsive behavior.. most often triggered by emotion. Be aware of how you feel but think  through the situation and problem solve..

     We must help our children problem solve and learn to cope with the real world..
As parents we can be supportive and encouraging and have their backs.. they can know they are not in this alone.. but we are beside them not in front of them to clear their paths..

     Years ago.. parents were un-involved, then  the pendulum swung to over involvement.. now it is time to rest in the middle.

(writers note: The intensity, cruelty and ways to cope with this new level of Bullying will be covered in another blog)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Welcome to Summer.. Now What.. a guide to the Summer Crazies...

Welcome to Summer... now what....
I am starting to get moms and dads coming in and counting the days until School Starts! And it is only June. I could get into why such a long break or why the break seems so much longer then in the past... but this is a practical blog.

First: People should not be entertained at all times. Everyone has a backyard, pool, park or beach. Take your children and have each child take a friend when possible (this way you are not the focus of their activities).

Challenge: Do not take the Game boys, X-Box or other items...they inhibit a child's ability to learn to self direct. This may seem impossible.. start with one outing a week game free...

Rule 1. Let them figure out what to do and how to do it...Play is a child's work.

Rule 2. Let them be bored.. without boredom there can be no self initiation of activities.

Rule 3. IGNORE, IGNORE and IGNORE.. the I'm bored, there is nothing to do and other sayings.

Rule 4. We, out of our own discomfort, rescue our children from themselves. This is a dis-service to their ability to grow into responsible and capable adults.

Let them learn through trial and error how to navigate friends, playgrounds, cul de sacs and community pools.

Rule 5. Have a paper day timer and use it.. structure your time with your needs and your to do list on there also... you are setting an example by focusing on what needs to get done and to balance your time. It also helps the crazies when you know what the end point is to any activity...

There are lots of why you can't do this in today's world.. there are also lots of ways to make this happen and take a big step into giving our children and teens a life outside of fear and micro-management. This doesn't make you a bad parent.. just one that sees the big picture!

Happy Summer!

        Kendall Wagner,MFT