January 20 - 24 Is No Name Calling Week Whether your child is the target of bullying or a witness, experiencing bullying is painful and can have long lasting negative effects. Dr. James Foley shares strategies from his Magination Press book, Baxter and Danny Stand Up to Bullying, to help your young child stand up to bullying. Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly over time, is intended to cause harm, and involves an imbalance in power between the perpetrator and the victim. How to help your child stand up to bullying The key to coping with bullying behavior is to help your child build self-esteem and resilience. The following strategies can help. Identify bullying behavior Identify and label problem behavior, like name-calling or enlisting others to make someone feel bad. When you see bullying behavior, in a story like Baxter and Danny Stand Up to Bullying, on TV, or in the real world, point it out, name it for your child, and indicate that it is unacceptable. Help your child understand the effect the behavior has on others by saying, “name-calling makes people feel bad.” Then describe acceptable behavior. For example, you could say, “In our family, we want to be kind and use nice words, not call each other names.” Teach assertiveness at home If you observe name-calling or other bullying behavior within your family, try to redirect and give a positive alternative statement or behavior. “Nobody likes it when you use mean names. If you are upset, take a deep breath and describe how you feel instead of using mean words.” The family is a practice ground for life skills needed to stand up to bullies. Teaching assertiveness within the family can help. Listen and problem solve Within the safe space of reading time, ask specifically about your child’s concerns about bullying. Initially, keep your responses neutral in order to clarify your child’s concerns. Have you ever seen bullying at your school? How often does that happen? How did that make you feel? If your child is developmentally ready, involve them in the problem-solving process. What do you think would help? What would stop the bullying? If you saw bullying, who is a good person to tell? Parents should give specific instructions on how to solve the situation, such as, “I want you to tell me and your teacher.” Young children benefit from physical demonstrations and integrating lessons into their play. For example, you can use your child’s favorite stuffed animals to act out the interactions and strategies. Model them for your child with the toys first, and then encourage your child to do the same, to demonstrate their understanding of the ideas. Brainstorm coping strategies Use the Baxter and Danny Stand Up to Bullying story to illustrate the impact of Queen Beth’s song, which emphasizes the forest animals’ strengths and the power the group has to stop bullying behavior. Then tell your child that they can effect change. In the story, the songRead More
About James Foley, DEdJames M. Foley, DEd, is a licensed psychologist who has recently retired from his private practice in Maine. He has served as a clinical director and member of a community mental health center children's service team and has extensive experience as a school psychologist and child and family therapist. He now resides in Sonoma County, CA, in close proximity to his two adult children and serves as psychological consultant to a local school district.
October is recognized as Depression Education and Awareness Month, but any parent with a child who suffers from depression knows that kids need support year round. Dr. James Foley, author of Magination Press’s book, Danny and the Blue Cloud: Coping with Childhood Depression, offers these insights and tips for parents supporting children who suffer from depression. Four ways to increase your child’s positive thinking Depression is often characterized by negative and/or distorted thinking. You may notice your child more frequently engaging in negative self-talk such as, “I’m a dummy" or "I can never do this.” Such statements may indicate a pattern of negative thinking. Here are a few tips to begin the process of positive change: Set the stage for positive thinking through movement. Engage in a physical activity that your child enjoys on a regular schedule, especially when your child appears “down." Exercise elevates mood. Help your child think about the good things and not just the bad things. For example, involve your child in creating an electronic or paper collage filled with their wonderful qualities. Help your child think about what he or she can do and not what he or she can’t do. Make a list of your child’s positive accomplishments. Point out your child’s achievements, even small ones: “You were a big help emptying the dishwasher today.” Model positive self-talk for your child: “I am really happy and proud that I finished all my work today.” Fostering small positive changes in the way your child thinks and acts can help them change the negative thinking that often accompanies depression. These tips are from James Foley, DEd, author of Magination Press’s book, Danny and the Blue Cloud: Coping with Childhood Depression.Read More