I’m Posting at Special-Ism 2

Special-Ism is a wonderful new site that is the combined efforts of Danette Schott and Tiffani Lawton as they combine their two wonderful former sites, S-O-S Research Blog and Our Journey Thru Autism. The new site focuses on reaching your child’s potential with professional insights. I am honored to be a monthly feature writer on their new site. My post this month is Eliminate Bullying in Your Schools.

I hope you’ll click on the link and have a look and maybe leave a comment and even share it with your friends via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Please!!!

What Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Kids From Bullying 16

Overcoming bullying is a process and for kids with long memories, who experience longterm bullying, the process is far from simple. I advise you to seek medical help to overcome more severe bullying or for any bullying that causes personality changes, such as profound anger or sadness. Make sure the school protects your child from further bullying too.

Today, I am happy to have Signe Whitson back for a second guest post with more information to help parents.

According to the American Justice Department, one out of every four children is bullied. Studies show that those statistics leap for homosexual youth, who are bullied at an alarming four times the rate of heterosexual youth. What’s more, 85% of children with disabilities are regular victims of social exclusion and verbal and physical abuse by their peers. It doesn’t take a statistician or a news reporter to make clear that bullying is an epidemic among today’s children and youth.

What is it that affords resilience to some young people while others are driven to self-destruction? It is an important question for parents to ask, since understanding the answer provides clues on how to protect their own children from the life-threatening impact of bullying.

How to Help the Bullied Child

Resilience literature talks about the importance of things like intelligence and creativity in strengthening a child, and champions the role of at least one consistent, loving caregiver in each child’s life. These factors cannot be understated. Another protective factor seems to be instilling a positive future orientation in each child.

What is a positive future orientation? When a child is in the heat of the moment—facing intensely cruel physical and/or mental cruelty at the hands of his peers that makes school attendance unfathomable and daily life unbearable—is that child able to see beyond their current situation and believe that things will get better? The ability to “take a long view” is difficult for young people who, by their very nature, live in the here and now. Teaching kids to think about how things will be in the future is a critical factor in helping them move past the torturous moments of the present.

Instilling a “this too shall pass” mindset is critical in strengthening our kids to endure and persevere through difficult times. Make it a habit to help your kids think about their future. Ask them questions like:

  • What do you look forward to being able to do when you become a teenager?
    • When you turn 16?
    • When you go to college?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
    • What do you need to do to get there?
  • Where do you think you might want to live?
    • Who would live with you?

The precise questions are not as important as the fact that you are helping your kids develop a view of their future and to stay focused on how life can be, as opposed to the realities of how it might feel in the present.

Protecting children from bullying is a complicated, multi-layered task. Parents must fortify their children with coping skills and internal strengths to stand up to the bullying their will see, hear, observe, and receive. Knowing how to take the long view and live with the faith that things can be better is a critical factor in helping kids withstand the here-and-now realities of their world.

For more information on teaching your child skills for coping with bullying behavior, check out Signe’s latest book, Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Aged 5-11 to Cope with Bullying. Please visit www.signewhitson.com for information on her workshops and trainings for parents, professionals, and kids.  “Like” Signe on Facebook, or Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson.

Still Working on Forgiveness and Emotional Healing 5

I did not plan to do a post today, but I find I need to write. Yesterday was all about fun. Still, in the mist of having a good time with good friends, my anger about the bullying surfaced. I saw someone who triggered it. She wasn’t mean to my daughter, she was merely a bystander, so by all rights she does not deserve my anger, and I am not really angry at her.

Yet, somehow seeing anyone from that year, except for my daughter’s two closest friends, brings back the pain. Maybe it is because my daughter does not feel like she can go places for fear of running into those who hurt her.

Yesterday helped me to understand how she feels and why. Honolulu is a big city in some ways, but Oahu is still a small island and it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing someone who knows you when you venture out. Maybe if we were completely healed from the emotional pain this would not be a problem. Unfortunately, we are not healed.

This week I have begun to understand why. You see others do not understand our pain. The school has never apologized to my daughter for letting her down. They do not realize this causes her to suffer more. I suspect their reasoning is related to fear of being sued. This is the way society functions. No one admits their mistakes and takes accountability for them because of this fear.

We deny responsibility for our actions to protect our reputations and our finances. Doing the right thing rarely comes into play. Yet, if we did the right thing instead of fearing the outcome, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

Studies show that people do not sue those they like, so as individuals shouldn’t we work to become a likeable person? Shouldn’t companies and schools do the same thing? If we all did the right thing, couldn’t we avoid lawsuits and have a happier society?

I have to overcome my anger and contact my daughter’s former school and ask them for an apology and ask them to let me help educate them about ways they can avoid repeating mistakes they made with my daughter. I have to offer forgiveness too, so I can heal. I owe this to my daughter. It is time to truly heal the deep wound instead of letting it continue to fester.

Please come back tomorrow for a second guest post from Signe Whitson on bullying that includes some ways to help the bullied child. Please support the families who lost a loved one and the survivors of bullying. Send them an e-mail, a card, etc. letting them know you support them. Little gestures mean so much!

Beginning Cal’s Story 8

It is still wordless Wednesday here, but I need to say a few words as I share the outline below for the first chapter of my next novel. Much of Cal’s story takes place among the trees and birds of Hawaii, so today I am grateful for capturing a Japanese White-eye or Mejiro hiding in the banyan tree that overlooks Cal’s school. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you might see a little green bird.

Cal is Mia’s little brother and his story begins when Mia is in fifth grade and he is third. He too has problems related to his sister’s anger after the bullying. Bullying not only affects the victim, it affects the whole family. This is what my son and I both want you to know. This is why there will be a second novel.

Chapter I: Angry Times

I. Anger

A. Mia’s not the only angry member of the family

B. My thoughts

II. Pleading my case

A. To Dad

B. To Mom

III. Venting and Acting Out

A. Getting in trouble at school

1. My friends don’t understand

2. I cannot explain

3. It sucks

B. Mom deals with it

1. Talks to teachers

2. Talks to Dad

3. Talks to me

4. Arranges for time just for me

IV. They get me and I get them

A. Support

1. From family

2. From friends

V. Light bulb Moment

A. Mia does not have this support even after Mom talks to people

B. I give Mia support