Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writing with a Purpose: Prevent Bullying

In Other Words: One Author’s Personal Journey to Address & Prevent Bullying
by Trudy Ludwig

I haven’t always been a children’s author. Previously, I was an advertising/marketing copywriter. I did this for about 15 years—even though I didn’t feel passionate about my craft. Don’t get me wrong. I knew I loved to write. I just didn’t love what I was writing. My professional life shifted 11 years ago when my daughter, a second grader at the time, became the target of some bullying friends. It was one of those experiences that had a profound effect on both of us. 

How do you explain to a 7-year-old…
… the complexity of friendships?
… why her best friends one day can become her worst enemies the next?
… how to gravitate to kids who can accept all the goodness she has to offer and give it back in kind?

I went into research mode to find out as much information as I could about relational aggression, a form of emotional bullying hidden within friendships that often goes below the radar of parents and teachers. I learned that relational aggression (i.e., gossiping, spreading rumors, intentional exclusion, the silent treatment, etc.) is evident as early as preschool and appears to peak in middle school.

Researchers report that relational aggression is much more pervasive than physical aggression in our nation’s schools. Kids—both boys and girls—also find it more hurtful than physical aggression. In my search for age-appropriate books to address the very real and rampant problem of social cruelty among peers, I came up empty-handed.

Frustrated with this resource gap, I wrote MY SECRET BULLY (Riverwood Press, 2003) to help empower children to make healthier friendship choices. The outpour of positive reviews and heartfelt responses from young readers, parents, educators, and bullying prevention experts and organizations gave me the impetus to continue writing more books to help kids connect with their peers in helpful, rather than hurtful, ways.

Read the entire article at>>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Helping a Child Make Friends

One strategy teachers, counselors, and parents use to prevent bullying among children is to focus on forming strong friendships that provide support in tough situations. Yet some children struggle with the nuances of making the first connections and finding reasons to stay friends after the first interest is shown. Here's an interesting article with specific suggestions on how to support a child/young adult as he/she tries to make new friends.

Do You Know a Child Who Struggles to Make Friends? 
Young people who lack social support are vulnerable to being bullied.
by Signe Whitson, L.S.W.

Do you have a student in your school or classroom that struggles to connect with his peers? Is your own child frequently on the receiving end of cruelty at the hands of classmates or “friends?” We know that young people who lack social support are particularly vulnerable to being bullied. What can we do then, as professionals and as parents, to teach our kids the skills they need to make positive friendships and maintain nurturing peer relationships? This article present five strategies for adults to bear in mind and pass on to kids as the school year begins.

1. First & Foremost: It’s Not a Character Flaw 
For many school-aged kids, the ability to make new friends comes as naturally as breathing. For others, however, connecting with peers is a source of stress each and every day. Many adults assume that there must be something wrong with kids who struggle socially. This deficit-model can be a damaging mindset that puts extra pressure on a young person who is already beyond his coping skills.
Rather than think of friendship struggles as a character flaw, regard the ability to make and maintain friendships on a par with any other skill that a young person needs to master. Just as you would offer individualized instruction and run though extra practice problems with a child who lagged behind in math, commit to spending extra time offering a socially-awkward child extra practice with friendship building skills such as starting a conversation, engaging in back and forth dialogue, finding common interests—and even ending unhealthy friendships (more on this advanced skill below.)

Bottom line: Kids who struggle socially benefit from adult guidance in developing the skills they need to reach out to their peers and establish friendships.

2. Start with Strengths 
Think about a child you know who has difficulty making friends. Make a list of his or her strengths. For example, is he particularly interested in a certain subject—animals or science or technology? Does she enjoy a particular activity—soccer or swimming or the arts?

While it’s easy to hyper-focus on all of the things a young person is doing wrong in social relationships, when we start from a problem-perspective, we have very little to build upon. Instead, focus on the things that the young person is already doing well and make a plan for how to address his social challenges by building on his inherent strengths.

Read the entire article at>>

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Author Spotlight: Trudy Ludwig

Trudy Ludwig is the award-winning author of a number of books for young children including The Invisible Boy, Better Than You, Confessions of a Former Bully, and My Secret Bully. Her focus is on helping young children navigate the social world of friendships, teasing, and bullying. Her first book, My Secret Bully, was inspired by the experiences of helping her own daughter deal with bullying from her friends. All of Ludwig's books are wonderful jumping-off points for conversations with kids about their own social interactions and experiences.

My Secret Bully 
"Here is the all-too-familiar story of Monica. She and Katie have been friends since kindergarten. Monica loves being around her when she's nice. But there are times when Katie can be just plain mean. And Monica doesn't understand why. Monica is a target of relational aggression, emotional bullying among friends who will use name-calling and manipulation to humiliate and exclude. But with a little help from a supportive adult—her mother—Monica learns to cope and thrive by facing her fears and reclaiming power from her bully."

The Invisible Boy 
"Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine...This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource."

Confessions of a Former Bully 
"Ten-year-old Katie finds herself where no child wants to be, in the principal’s office with both her parents. Caught bullying a friend on the school playground, she must meet with the school counselor once a week and figure out how to atone for her actions. As Katie learns more about herself and her options, she keeps a diary-like notebook of reflections and advice as well as facts about physical, emotional, and cyberbullying; why people bully others; and what tools kids can use when they experience or witness bullying."

Just Kidding! 
"D.J.'s friend Vince has a habit of teasing D.J. and then saying, 'Just kidding!' as if it will make everything okay. It doesn't, but D.J. is afraid that if he protests, his friends will think he can't take a joke. With the help of his father, brother, and an understanding teacher, D.J. progresses from feeling helpless to taking positive action, undermining the power of two seemingly harmless words."

Trouble Talk 
"Maya's friend Bailey loves to talk about everything and everyone. At first, Maya thinks Bailey is funny. But when Bailey's talk leads to harmful rumors and hurt feelings, Maya begins to think twice about their friendship... Includes additional resources for kids, parents, and teachers, as well as advice from Trudy about how to combat trouble talk."

Listen to Trudy Ludwig Chat About Her Work 
In this short podcast chat for parents of children in grades K - 5, Ludwig talks her book Confessions of a Former Bully and shares her Totally Awesome Empower Tools, strategies kids can use to assertively deal with bullying. Listen to the podcast here>>
More About Trudy Ludwig and Her Books

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October is Bullying Prevention Month

October is Bullying Prevention Month and I've gathered a few resources for you to explore.

Source: The Bully Report "Where does bullying occur most frequently in your school?"

Share Your Strategies for Preventing Bullying at DoSomething
Submit your story about how you beat bullying. It might be featured in the collection of
tips and tactics DoSomething will send to all participants soon. Share your story>>

Bullying Prevention Month: Apps Designed to Help Parents Protect Kids
by Sue Scheff, author and parent advocate

As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, AT&T has compiled a list of apps designed to help parents protect their children from bullying and to create awareness around the problem.
  • STOPit – (Android, iOS – FREE) The STOPit app empowers victims and bystanders of cyberbullying to confidentially report instances of malicious online activity. User-created reports are instantly sent to pre-selected trusted adults, school administrators and the like. Key features include:   the STOPit button, which lets users screen capture offensive material; the HELPit button, which provides a gateway for children to seek help and advice around the clock; the FRIENDit button, which provides witnesses of cyberbullying the ability to screen capture offensive material and anonymously send to pre-selected, trusted adults; and the REPORTit button, which allows children to share evidence directly with law enforcement officials assigned to their investigations.