are you blaming, shaming or taming your child?

ARE YOU BLAMING, SHAMING OR TAMING YOUR CHILD?

There is not a parent that I know of who loves their child so much that they would intentionally bully them. Every parent wants the best for their child and means well. What if by chance, you were actually unintentionally bullying your child? Is that actually possible, because after all, you are your child’s protector, comforter… supreme adorer? You bet it is!

 
When most people hear the word “bullying” in relation to their child, they instantly cringe and tell you, “I don’t bully my child, no way would I ever lay a hand on them!”. I am sure that is true for many! Did you know that bullying comes is all shapes, sizes and packages? Bullying can come in the form of mental, emotional and verbal abuse, oh yes, the power of the word! As we mature, we are equipped to adequately discern statements, and get underlying messages and intentions. This is however not true for children as they are still ‘wet behind the ears’ in their interpretations and perceptions. Basically, what you say is what they get! So parents, this is where you come in…

 
Are you unintentionally shaming or blaming your child, or are you taking a ‘taming’ approach as I like to call it? Before you want to shoot me for using the term ‘taming’ because you may think that I am referring to your kids as animals, ‘taming’ in this context means to train, discipline and control your children (Besides, I am sure some of you have affectionately called your kids, “rug rats”, “little kitten”, “tiger”, etc., in the past!). After all, these three attributes of ‘taming’ definitely present a more stable, psychologically and emotionally healthy environment, and rearing for your child.

 
Conversely, shaming or blaming are non-intentional bullying approaches that could potentially harm your child’s self-esteem, ability to master tasks, and this could lead to anxiety, behavioral problems or even depression. The shaming and blaming mentality is very old school and outdated, but still used today by parents because that was something they were conditioned to as children, as were their parents, and generations prior most likely. Just like priceless heirlooms being passed down and accepted, these intangible, negative parenting behaviors are unconsciously engrained, accepted and unchallenged, because after all they must work because you turned out okay… correct?

 
Communication is paramount in any relationship, even more important in parent/child relationships. Did you know that back in the 1990’s some research found that on average parents spent roughly 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 minutes per day engaging their children in meaningful communication? WOW! Furthermore, that meaningful communication revolved around these similar themes; “Why is your bedroom always messy, do you like living like a pig?”, “Why don’t you have all ‘A’s’ on your report card, come on, your smarter than that!”, “Why can’t you be more like so and so?”, “Stand straight, shoulders back, look presentable!”, etc., the list goes on. These are ‘shaming’ and ‘blaming’ motivators. Parents mean well, they want what is best for their kids, but sometimes using the iron fist, ‘good cop, bad cop’ approach is the reason that kids are doing what they are doing in the first place, and that you feel the need to blame/shame them in your communication.

 
When you ‘tame’ you are taking the time to explain and truly understand why your kids are doing what they are doing. Furthermore, you correct them when they make mistakes, and praise them for doing good. Taming truly is all for discussing and communicating consciously, rationally and most importantly, listening to what your kids are saying rather than just hearing them. Guess what? When you blame/shame, your kids are most likely tuning you out–hearing you, but not listening to what you are saying because it is the same ole, same ole.

 
So, why not get into some ‘taming’ with your kids? It is so simple, any parent can do it! The best way to ‘tame’ is to state your intentions in specific terms to your kids so they understand what you want, or do not want them to do. It is best not to order your kids to do things, as that is the path of greatest resistance and they are less likely to tune you out with a “Whatever!” Instead, when you ask your kids to do something, tell them how much you appreciate it and offer your gratitude in advance.

 
Does it really work? If so, how? Let’s say you are constantly after your kids to do their homework. This may be the case even more so if they are not pulling good grades, even failing. Perhaps your typical method of operation is one of shaming, “Are you kidding me? You haven’t done your homework yet? No wonderful you are failing! Do you want to be a failure and wind up being a loser?” I know this may sound harsh, but some parents lose control because they love their kids so much. They want to see them succeed and they say harsh comments out of desperation. This is blaming. Does it work? Perhaps it could if done occasionally, but children will shut it out, or feel berated which could undermine their self-esteem. Instead, you could try using a taming approach such as, “You didn’t do your homework yet? How do you hope to succeed when you are not putting the effort in? You know that if you want to succeed at anything, you have to try. You are a smart person, and I want what is best for you, as I am sure you do. So what do you think you have to do to succeed?” Taming is great as it demonstrates to your children that you want to work with them to succeed at what you want them to master. Also, by asking questions, you are engaging in a civilized conversation which builds a good rapport and shared interest. Children are more likely to keep their listening ears open!

 
As a general rule, people like to live to the perceptions they have of themselves based on how others see them. This is called Looking Glass Self–you see yourself as you believe others see you, and then think, feel, act and eventually become that person. So, if you imply or tell your child they are doing “good”, they are going to live to that stereotype. Heck, it has worked in reverse for shaming/blaming hasn’t it? Praise your kids not only when they do good, but in advance as that is the ultimate compliment to them and it is a great ‘taming’ practice. Always be genuine and sincere when grooming your kids with positive praise as they can see through phoniness and patronizing. After all, they are not dogs!

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Peter Andrew Sacco PH.D. is the author of many popular international selling books and more than 800 articles. He currently hosts a weekly radio show, “Matters of the Mind” which features celebrities with whom he discusses mental health, relationship and addiction issues. He is an award-winning executive producer and award winning lecturer, and host of documentaries on relationships, psychological issues and children’s issues. To learn more about Peter, please visit http://www.petersacco.com and http://www.bullyingisforthebirds.com, where parents, teachers and kids can download his new book Bulling Is For The Birds for free.

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New Book About Cultural Diversity and Bullying

James Reed is a foster child, bullied throughout his entire short life. Through a chance encounter, he meets Ted, a toothless vampire, bitten while a wino on the mean streets. Not long after, the vampire who turned him was destroyed, leaving him the last of his kind and… fangless!

Gummer is about two outcasts, two very different people who yet are very similar, and how these differences can help two souls bond together. James is on a quest – finding his mother again with the help of a toothless vampire. How far will a vampire go to help make a lonely kids’ dream come true?

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CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON NOW!

Amazing Kids Magazine

Interview With Amazing Kids Magazine

The following interview was originally posted on Amazing Kids Magazine

Enjoy!

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Dr. Peter Sacco is the author of many popular international books and more than 700 magazine articles. He has received the Award of Excellence in Teaching and lectures at universities in both the U.S. and Canada. He currently hosts a weekly radio show, “Matters of the Mind” which features celebrities with whom he discusses mental health, relationship and addiction issues. He is also an award-winning executive producer and host of documentaries on relationships, psychological issues and children’s issues. To learn more about Peter or his work, please visit http://www.petersacco.com andwww.bullyingisforthebirds.com.

Peter has co-written the book If I was a Bird…What Kind of Flock would I Fly with?, a book about preventing bullying and encouraging cultural acceptance.

Our discussions with Dr. Sacco may help kids everywhere identify, confront, and deal with bullying. We hope you find some valuable information in his answers. (AK=Amazing Kids, PS=Peter Sacco)

AK: Our September issue theme is about bullying. Can you give our readers a definition of bullying and how it differs from normal conflict between peers?
PS: Bullying is an act of aggression committed by one against another. It contains several qualities that set it apart from conflict. Bullying contains the following qualities:

  • The bullying incidents or abuse is repeated over time. It is not a onetime event, rather a series of incidents whereby someone is bullied.
  • The event involves a victim being distressed by the abuse. Whenever someone displays visual or verbal signs that they are feeling hurt and the bully continues to engage in this behavior because they derive a sense of satisfaction from it, then it is bullying.
  • There is always an imbalance of power in that one of the kids is more powerful than the other. Often times it is physical strength which creates the imbalance, however it can also be intellectual, or the ability to use verbal skills more powerfully than the victim which plays to an audience.
  • There is intent to harm by the bully. They knowingly and maliciously decide to attack another child who is helpless and unable to defend against the attack. For all intents, it is premeditated on the bully’s part!

In peer conflict, the individual does not always insist on getting their own way. They have legitimate reasons for disagreeing. After or during a conflict, they are willing to try to solve problems or usually apologize. They are willing and able to offer “win-win” solutions. They are willing to bargain and negotiate during disagreements. They are able to change topics and walk away before something escalates into aggression and violence.

AK: Is there a difference in how boys and girls bully each other? Why is the difference there?
PS: Generally speaking, boys will try to dominate the victim they are bullying with physical abuse–punching, kicking, restraining, biting, etc. Conversely, girls tend to use verbal and emotional abuse such as put downs, name calling and even slanderous remarks that attack one’s character. They are also more likely to use on-line social media to launch their attacks. This difference is largely based on media perception–movies, video games, literature, where males are the more physical aggressors. Interestingly, as the roles women characters are playing in movies and video games become more physically aggressive, it is more and more common to see younger girls emulating these actions in terms of using physical aggression. Also, if there is domestic abuse occurring in homes, the bully whether they be male or female may be learning it from a primary role model, namely their parent(s), or sibling.

AK: What are the characteristics of children who are bullied?
PS: Bullies are basically predators and hunters in that they “seek” out perceived weak victims.  Traits bullies are most likely going to look for in potential victims:

  • Children who lack social skills needed to initiate and maintain friendships. Children who are alone are isolated in schools are more likely to be picked on.
  • Children who are isolated, anxious, insecure or those who cry very easily. Once a bully sees this, it is like a shark smelling blood in water.
  • Children who exhibit fragile self-esteem. Children who are down on themselves, hate themselves, or are feeling depressed, are more likely to be picked on.
  • Children who have experienced a previous trauma. Word gets around that once a child has become an easy target, others jump on the band wagon. There have been several incidents of Facebook and Internet posting of victims.
  • Children with emotional, behavioral and/or attention difficulties. Children with learning disabilities or physical disabilities are more likely to be assaulted.
  • Children who are physically weak or small in size. Often times, these kids are most preyed on in gym class and at recess. Did you know that the game dodge ball has been banned in several US states because they view it as promoting violence and picking on the weak—it wrecks a child’s self-esteem!
  • Children who use money, toys and bribes to protect themselves. Once a child needs to use “security money” to send a message, the message will become expensive. Not only does the bully expect more, but others start coming around looking for their share!
  • Children new to a school who have not adjusted well after an adequate period of time. The worst time to move a child to a new school is in the middle of the year! Groups and cliques have already been formed.

AK: What should children and teens do if someone tries to bully them?
PS: Basically there are only 4 responses. One is to look the bully in the eye and tell them to “Stop.” Sometimes that is what the bully needs to hear, as no one may have told them to stop before. Second, walk away. There is no sense in trying to engage the bully if all they want to do is start something. Walking away does not make you a “chicken”, rather it makes you the mature one! Third, if you feel threatened, tell an adult right away. Fourth, which I do not advocate unless it is a dire situation, and only if you feel you have the self-defense skills and/or training, is to fight back. No one should be bullied, hurt or degraded and take a beating as that proves nothing other than you can take a beating. I am old school in that sometimes if you are physically threatened and stand to be harmed or have a loved one who is about to get hurt, you have to stand your ground. I have had some mothers and teachers say fighting back is wrong, which I agree and I do not advocate it, but there is a difference between fighting and self-defense and I know of no mother I have ever spoken with who wouldn’t defend against a 6’3″ hulking man if he was harming her child. Sometimes, the moment and situation dictates self-defense.

AK: What should children and teens do if they see another kid being bullied?
PS: Much like the last response, there are basically two options. The first is to step in and help the victim. Heck, there is strength in numbers and other kids might step in and help. This lets the bully know that their behavior will not be tolerated. Second, go and call an adult. Getting an adult involved stops the situation from escalating and also adults are now aware of who the bully is.

AK: What is cyber bullying? How can kids prevent and respond to it?
PS: Cyberbullying is any kind of bullying that uses electronic technology. This would include: cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as online social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), text messages, online dating sites, chat sites and other kinds of websites. First off, leave the site if you feel bullied. Second, never respond or create conflict. Once you post something online or in a text, it is “out there” for everyone to see, and in some cases, no taking it back. Also, there are called “social reporting,” options on many social media sites in that users have the ability to report offensive or abusive material to the webmaster, etc. Report incidences to stop bullying online!

AK: If someone thinks they might be a bully, how can they tell if they are and how can they stop being a bully?
PS: There are some more tell-tale features in kids who are bullies. There are qualities to look for in children which might identify them as being bullies:

  • Their marks suddenly drop and continue to nose dive.
  • The child complains of being treated poorly by teachers and other children.
  • The child might begin committing acts of violence toward a family pet or other animals.
  • The child engages and seeks out conflicts that lead to violence with siblings, parents and friends.
  • The child associates with and chooses friends who appear to endorse violence.

AK: What should teachers, parents, and community partners do about bullying?
PS: Parents, teachers, adults or anyone for that matter need to get involved! Parents and teachers can and need to:

  • Listen carefully and talk to your kids about life at school, especially if there is a marked change in mood or attitude.
  • Talk to their children about their options in dealing with the bully. They can try to ignore the bully, be forthright and up front with the bully. They might also encourage their child to go to their teachers for help.
  • Parents might role play some of the options to improve the child’s self-confidence. Parents might try to teach their children to walk more confidently. Also, they might enroll their child in self-defense courses.
  • Parents should ask their children what kinds of other help they might need. They might need to speak to a counselor.
  • Parents need to remind their children of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. Research shows that bullying falls out of favor as children progress through junior high school.

AK: How does the school environment affect the cases of bullying and what are the best methods for students to start a movement to change the environment?
PS: Victims need a supportive, nurturing, small group or individual setting to encourage them to share their feelings, state needs and practice new skills. Decreasing the victim’s isolation is the primary focus. You have to help the child broaden their abilities for friendship skills. Help kids get acquainted and accepted with one another! Children need to learn and develop an understanding of self-esteem. You have to teach skills which result in helping victims feel empowered. Finally, teach students to identify a trusted adult… someone they can confide in and go to whenever they are bullied. Let kids know that there is no shame in being a victim of bullying!

AK: As a teacher, author, and practitioner, you have been very successful. Who has been a mentor in your life who has helped you succeed in life?
PS: Without a doubt, my parents who have always encouraged me, and helped give me the means for opportunities of education, social activities and sports. I have had very many great teachers and professors along the way who have taught me how to chase down my dreams, goals, and believe that if you want something bad enough, it is yours for the taking!

We Are All The Same Underneath

WE ARE ALL THE SAME UNDERNEATH!

A student once sent me this picture which I thought should be in every single biology, psychology, sociology and life studies course or text. I do not know who the exact creator of it is, but they nailed it!

B3tHEyqIMAEsaU-

No matter what colour skin you are, what gender you are, what nationality you are, what dialect flows off of your tongue, what your sexual orientation is, what your religious beliefs are, we all share two things; 1) We are all skeletons underneath made of the same colour/matter, and (2) that beyond the flesh, blood, bones, minerals, gases, etc., we are all spirit. Isn’t it sad that so many fights, bullying incidents, hate crimes and even wars are started and continued because of what it seen on the outside–The skin? Perhaps if everyone came to the reality that we are all mortal creatures with spiritual beings housed within for a time being, there would be a lot less hatred in this “physical” world!

how bad

HOW BAD IS BULLYING?

Bullying doesn’t show strength, rather it demonstrates a perceived weakness.

Bullying doesn’t foster superiority, rather it reveals overwhelming inferiority.

Bullying isn’t an isolated event, rather it is a prolonged traumatic experience.

Bullying doesn’t discriminate, rather people do it to discriminate.

Bullying isn’t about ageism, just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you are safe from it.

Pretending bullying isn’t happening is like looking through a telescope and not seeing the stars in the sky.

Today’s catchers are tomorrow’s pitchers, kids learn from adults.

Right now someone’s child, sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, best friend is being victimized.

Right now a child victim has had enough, is afraid… and wants to die.

Right now suicide feels like their best option…horrifically sad!

When will enough be enough? There are infinitely more non-bullies than there are bullies.

Right now, everyone has to make a difference. Enough said!

www.bullyingisforthebirds.com

Teachers

WHERE DO TEACHERS FIT IN WITH BULLYING

It has often times been stated that “teachers are there to teach” and not be counselors, wardens, bouncers or psychologists when it comes to kids and bullying. Teachers spend infinitely more time with kids throughout the course of a day, more time than parents spend with their own kids. Teachers are there to teach, that is what they get paid for, but they also get paid to facilitate a safe learning environment (schools) and after all they are human, so seeing a child being picked on alone should make them want to help remedy the situation.

What can teachers and adults to help stop bullying? There are many things adults can do, from improving their listening skills, to taking workshops on bullying. Teachers can fit in by:

1) Being trained to intervene effectively and discern between bullying and child conflict. Take training session or workshops on bullying.

2) Adults have to deal with bullies using a no-nonsense style of intervention. Sitting on the fence or turning a blind eye is the reason the incidents of bullying have lasted way too long!

3) When dealing with bullies, always use pro-social consequences whenever possible and always have the consequences fit the offenses. Explain things to the bully so they understand.

4) It is extremely helpful for the adult to help and correct the bully’s erroneous thinking patterns in each interaction with them.

5) It is important to help build empathy skills in bullies by taking time to identify a victim’s emotional state and describing the cues to determine it. Some bullies lack empathy skills.

6) Adults should always try to identify positive behaviors and correct the negative thinking of bullies and reinforce both. It is most likely bullies have always been criticized for what they have done wrong, rather praise them for what they do right!

When it comes to correcting bullying, it is not rocket science!

What

WHICH CHILDREN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE VICTIMS OF BULLYING?

I have been asked if certain children possess traits making them stand out more, leading them to become the victims of bullies. After studying the research, speaking with experts, as well as kids themselves, there are certain qualities that kids may possess/display which improves the likelihood that they will be bullied.

The following is a composite profile of children who are most likely to become the victim of a bully. If precautions are put into place, sometimes the event of a bullying encounter can be prevented. What bullies look for in potential victims:

1) Children who lack social skills needed to initiate and maintain friendships. Children who are alone are isolated in schools are more likely to be picked on.

2) Children who are isolated, anxious, insecure or those who cry very easily. Once a bully sees this, it is like a shark smelling blood in water.

3) Children who exhibit fragile self-esteem. Children who are down on themselves, hate themselves or feeling depressed are more likely to be picked on. Children who have experienced a previous trauma. Word gets around that once a child has become an easy target, others jump on the band wagon. There have been several incidents of Facebook and Internet posting of victims.

4) Children with emotional, behavioral and/or attention difficulties. Children with learning disabilities or physical disabilities are more likely to be assaulted.

5) Children who are physically weak or small in size. Often times, these kids are most preyed on in gym class and at recess. Did you know that the game dodge ball has been banned in several US states because they view it as promoting violence and picking on the weak—it wrecks a child’s self-esteem!

6) Children who use money, toys and bribes to protect themselves. Once a child needs to use “security money” to send a message, the message will become expensive. Not only does the bully expect more, but others start coming around looking for their share!

7) Children new to a school who have not adjusted well after an adequate period of time. The worst time to move a child to a new school is in the middle of the year! Groups and cliques have already been formed.

Children who are victims need a supportive, nurturing, small group or individual settings to encourage them to share their feelings, state needs and practice new skills. Decreasing the victim’s isolation is the primary focus. You have to help the child broaden their abilities for friendship making skills. Children need to learn and develop an understanding of self-esteem. You have to teach skills which result in helping victims feel empowered. Finally, teach students to identify a trusted adult… someone they can confide in and go to whenever they are bullied.

What (1)

WHAT CAN ADULTS DO IF A CHILD IS GETTING BULLIED?

If a child is the victim of bullying, the worst thing that an adult can do is nothing. I have heard
many times adults assert that kids need to work it out amongst themselves. I have asked adults
who propose this solution that if they were the ones being bullied, or sexually harassed at work
by a bully, if they would try to continue to “work it out” with someone who didn’t care, or go to
their supervisors? Often times when incidents of extreme bullying continue, adults, and
supervisors need to get involved.

What can adults/parents do in cases of child bullying? Parents and adults need to intervene
immediately, get all of the facts and then act for the benefit of their child. They can help victims
of bullying by doing the following:

1) Listen carefully and talk to your kids about life at school, especially if there is a marked
change in mood or attitude.

2) Talk to their children about their options in dealing with the bully. They can try to ignore the
bully, be forthright and up front with the bully. They might also encourage their child to go to
their teachers for help.

3) Parents might role play some of the options to improve the child’s self-confidence. Parents
might try to teach their children to walk more confidently. Also, they might enroll their child in
self-defense courses or other sports that promote self-esteem building.

4) Parents should ask their children what kinds of other help they might need. They might need
to speak to a counsellor.

5) Parents need to remind their children of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Research shows that bullying falls out of favour as children progress through junior high school.
It is estimated in the USA that 20% of children attending school are frightened throughout their
school day! If you know that your child or any child is being bullied, you need to get involved
and help be a difference maker!

What are the warning signs that children are being bullied?

WHAT ARE WARNING SIGNS THAT CHILDREN ARE BEING BULLIED?

Often times parents and teachers might be totally unaware that a child is being bullied. Let’s face it, most teachers have lots of kids to “teach” and sometimes they have their blinders on when it comes to negative extra-curricular activities–BULLYING! With that said, parents should be discussing issues that are related to matters of the heart with their kids regularly to make sure that things are going well in school.

There are several things parents and teachers should look for should they suspect a child is being bullied. Here is a running list of some of the more prevalent tangible signs to look for:

1) Unexplained bruises, scrapes or torn clothing. The child was not playing a game where damage occurred. Rather they have no way of explaining to their parent how it happened. They are too ashamed, embarrassed and frightened to tell what really happened.

2) Continual nightmares! Children who are repeatedly bullied are most likely to have nightmares about the bullying incidents. If they endure long term suffering, they are likely to begin having flashbacks much like victims suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

3) Headaches and stomach aches. Victims of bullying are likely to complain of stomach aches and headaches as a form of psychosomatic symptoms from the bullying. Most are unable to tell what is really happening or vent so it becomes internalized and manifests itself in the form of physical ailments.

4) Overtired and unable to sleep. Many kids worry about sleeping because they will have nightmares about the bully. They toss and turn all night and rarely are able to fall asleep easily.

5) Being evasive and isolating themselves from others. If the bullying goes on continually, the child is likely to become very embarrassed and also likely to develop low self-esteem and withdraw from everyone. They remove themselves to try and cover their fear and shame.

6) Temper outbursts and uncharacteristic behavior. Because they are internalizing most of their feelings, the shame and hurt is likely to become frustration, stress and rage. Children will start to look for safe targets with which to displace their anger.

7) Increased absence from school. Children are likely to be “sick” and try to avoid going to school to avoid the bully.

8) More time spent in their bedrooms. Like isolation, children believe the safest place of refuge is their bedroom. They go there for cover and hope their worries will go away. In some instances, the bullying may actually be happening in their bedroom via the Internet!

9) Frequently losing their clothing, lunch and their toys. Once again, those bullied are also likely to have their possessions stolen from them from the bully. When asked by their parents where
their things are, they usually do not have a straight answer to give their parents because they are so embarrassed.

10) They develop an intense fear of school. Suddenly, the child wants the parent to drive them to and from school. They want the parent to drop them off at the school right before the bell rings and be there to pick them up immediately when the school bell rings at the end of the day.

If your kids are displaying any or many of these symptoms, they may be living in a private hell that they feel trapped in, with no hope! Pay attention to sudden and even simple changes in your child’s life. They may be a victim of bullying.