Tag Archives: teasing

A Stand Against Bullies

In elementary school, I sat on the small, white pebbles next to the school doors waiting to go back inside. I never played with the other kids. I wasn’t welcome. In middle school, I cried almost every day, some days I feared I’d be hurt. One memorable day, at the start of school a teacher, the cool male teacher everyone liked, singled me out, made fun of my clothes and the way I talked. That was the best day of the year. The next two years in the school improved only marginally. One day 5 girls encircled me, taunted me, tormented me until the bell rang. I told my teachers. Nothing. I told my parents. They contacted the school. The girls upped the ante.

In high school, I was an outsider. If anyone liked me, I had no clue. I received daily messages in my locker telling me how much no one liked me. A few times I received messages from multiple individuals. My second high school was better. Being much larger it was possible to find a group willing to allow me through the door. But even there a person or two were more than willing to inform me I wasn’t welcome at their lunch table. For quite some time I ate on my own because I didn’t even know anyone else at the school.

I was bullied.

I’m not sure why I was such an easy target. At least not in the beginning. By the end I’d wager those vultures could smell my low self-esteem from a  mile away.

I never want my children to experience anything even remotely similar to what I went through. I want to protect them. Of course there’s really only so much a parent can do to prevent it from happening to their child. Part of me wonders if it’s possible, in an effort to protect their children, they somehow create a child willing to bully others?

I’m not really sure. What I do know is that one woman has taken a stand. A stand against bullies. Not just a cheap show that falls apart the second someone actually gets bullied, but a real stand.

I applaud this woman.

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Rubber Balls Come Bouncing Back…

Michael from Sharing A love of Teaching commented on my post about teasing yesterday. I wanted to expand on his thought that it is not a critical part of the teachers job to teach resilience, to which I agree. However his opening paragraph states that he thinks teaching resilience is overrated. From a teacher’s perspective, maybe. However from a societal perspective I think it is one of the most important things we can do for our children, for our future.

What is resilience?And why is it important?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”

A resilient child can be faced with many day to day stressor such as sibling rivalry, bullying, being pressured to perform at school or extracurricular activities. However, despite increased stress will manage to not only survive, but thrive.

Resiliency allows a child to overcome adversity, to be the winner in the battle against stress. Without resilience adversity wins and the child is left feeling sad and dejected.

I Have a Daddy that loves me. I Am getting better. I Can tell Mommy when I'm Scared.

 

How do we help children develop resilience? And who should ‘teach’ it?

I believe it is the role of all adults in a child’s life to help them develop and maintain resiliency. However, a firm foundation should have been set at home, starting at birth.

In order to help children develop resilience it’s important to look after our own mental health, but that is a topic for a future post. For now I will assume all parents are capable of helping their child(ren).

According to the Bernard Van Leer Foundation children need to be able to draw from three sources in order to be resilient. Those sources are “I Have, I Am, I Can”. The ‘I Have’s’ are people in the child’s life who love and support the child, who can help them in difficult situations. ‘I Am’s’ are traits the child possesses that increase a child’s feelings of self worth. ‘I Can’s’ are things the child can do to help lessen stress.

In order for a child to believe they ‘Have’ people in their lives who can help them, the foundation needs to be laid early in life. Actively playing with a small baby by giving massages, singing songs, reading stories lets the baby know he is worthwhile. Allowing a child to make mistakes without ridicule or punishment lets the child know she is worthwhile and provides opportunity to learn skills that foster resilience.

For specific suggestions on ways to help your child develop resilience from birth through the early school years take a look at the ‘Bounce Back Books’.

Here are some examples taken from “A guide to Promoting Resilience in Children” By the Bernard Van Leer Foundation

THE SITUATION

The baby is in the crib and is lying on his back screaming and kicking. You do not know what is wrong. He just keeps screaming and kicking.

You promote resilience if you pick him up and begin to soothe him while finding out if he is wet, too cold or too hot, needs patting on his back to remove air, or mainly needs comforting (I HAVE). You help him calm down if he feels loved and cared for (I AM), and if he can begin to calm himself down (I CAN).

You do not promote resilience if you look at him, decide to change his diaper, and then tell him to stop crying. If he does not stop crying, you walk away and let him `cry it out’. This interaction does not promote resilience as the baby needs more than a change of diapers. He needs to be held and comforted so that he knows he is loved and cared for. Then he can begin to calm down.

THE SITUATION

The two year old toddler is at the store with you. She sees some candy, grabs it and starts to eat it. When you try to take it away from her, she shouts, `No! Mine, mine!’

You promote resilience if you remove her from the situation so you do not disturb others, explain calmly to her that she cannot take things without your permission, and give her something else or show her something else to distract her. You help her understand limits of behavior (I HAVE), help her feel responsible for her own behavior (I AM), and communicate with her as she listens (I CAN).

You do not promote resilience if you just let her eat the candy or if you hit her and scold her or if you force her hand open to take it. This kind of interaction makes her afraid of the one who provides love and trust, makes her rigid in her behavior and makes her feel unloved and not understood.

Once a child leaves the home and enters school, I believe it is important for teachers to continue fostering resilience. However, my understanding is that teachers are not given the resources needed to know how to foster true resilience, but rather try to talk children into ignoring other children or stressful situations. Ignoring, or burying, their emotions doesn’t make those emotions go away, and it doesn’t help them develop skills to work through them.

If a strong support system is in place at home, and a child already has strong resilience I don’t believe it will make a huge difference if a teacher isn’t able to promote effective coping techniques. But if a child either has lower resilience or doesn’t have a support system outside of school, then it is more important that a teacher, or other adult, is able to help the child develop skills that will aid him in day to day life.

Growing Resilient Children states:

Damaging stress is like an alarm bell going off constantly in a child’s ears, telling him that there is danger, but never telling him what to do about it, nor giving him a chance to turn off the alarm.

Whether it’s parents, teachers, or another caring adult I believe one of the most important tasks is to help children learn how to turn off that alarm. Let them know they are loved and safe. Resilience is not overrated. Maybe misunderstood would be the better term.

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You Don’t Need The Extra Whip

For the first year of your child’s life you try to get him to walk and talk. For the next seventeen you try to get him to sit down and shut up.

I’ve heard a few different versions and a few different responses to this recently. The first and most common response is “it’s just teasing”.

The free dictionary defines teasing as:

tease  (tz)

v. teased, teas·ing, teas·es

v.tr.

1. To annoy or pester; vex.
2. To make fun of; mock playfully.

3. To arouse hope, desire, or curiosity in without affording satisfaction.

If it’s just teasing, then it could be all in good fun. I wonder if children find this as funny as some adults do. I also wonder where a person draws the line. What is no longer considered ‘just teasing’? Is it only ‘just teasing’ when it’s directed toward children? What about adults? Is it still teasing when one adult ‘teases’ another adult, and the other adult is left feeling hurt or angry while the first laughs?

One adult might think it’s hilarious, even a group might think it’s funny, but from the target’s point-of-view, this kind of teasing is often hurtful, irrespective of the intention of the teaser. When teasing is unwelcome, it may be regarded as harassment, a form of bullying or even emotional abuse.

Both my DH and I grew up in families that teased. The biggest difference was that I didn’t like the teasing, it hurt me. Every time I ran away crying I was told I was ‘too sensitive’, basically it was my fault. I’m sure my parents didn’t mean to hurt me, I’m also sure they didn’t intend to send the message I received: that I wasn’t good enough, and no wonder I was picked on everywhere, even my family didn’t like me as I was. It hurt.

Was I really ‘too sensitive’? Or might my parents/sisters stepped over the line? I say that because it was something that caused so much hurt, they should have stopped. At the very least they should have talked about it. What they really wanted to say, what they wanted me to hear, and found out what I was actually hearing.

Ryan saw his teasing as a sign of love. He teased as much as he was teased.

Before becoming parents ourselves, his parents would often tease us – both together and separately. I have to say I laughed along. I thought it was all in good fun. However, things changed once we became parents. When we told his parents they weren’t allowed to give our baby certain foods, they teased us. But the way they teased made me think they were trying to cover up their real thoughts by laughing about it and calling it teasing. I was angry.

On a couple different occasions Ryan has said something to Ella – teasing – and she’s gotten upset. At first he tried to shrug it off. He wasn’t trying to make her upset, so she shouldn’t be upset. That logic doesn’t work. Instead he looked at the way his comment made his sweet daughter cry. Teasing is only ‘just teasing’ when both parties are laughing. And that’s the way we (try to) keep it in our home.

Sometimes one of us will say something and someone will feel hurt or upset. We might say, “I’m sorry, I was just teasing.” But we also clarify the message we were trying to send.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all teasing is bad. About a month ago I stopped at Starbucks and ordered my drink. I asked for whipped cream, and the girl behind the counter looked me up and down and, with a smile, said “I don’t think you need the extra whip.” I could have been upset, but I honestly think she was just trying to tease me. She was new and the other person working knew me.I can’t say the comment made me want to stop and chat, but it did make me laugh as I walked out with two very … lively little girls.

What I am saying is that we need to be aware of the effect our words have on others. Something I find funny might hurt someone else. If I continuously teased Ryan in a way that hurt him, would his love for me grow? Or would he likely tell me to take a hike? What if we teased our children in a way that hurt them, would their love for us grow? Or would they take a hike? There is a fine line between teasing and being hurtful. And I believe it’s our job to teach our children where that line is so that they can navigate it on their own. Teach them that you never comment on a pregnant woman’s weight : p

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