Monthly archives: January 2015

Stop Cyberbullying? Communication is KEY

Posted on Bullying, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Cyberbullying, General, Technology January 23, 2015 by Mary George

What is Cyberbullying? Break that word down – What is bullying? Do you really know? Most do not. In today’s world the term “bully” is a hot word that is often misused as well as confused with conflict. Conflict is normal and healthy, and children need to learn to navigate conflict without their parents constantly trying to solve their problems for them. On the other hand, “bullying” is an action that is repeated and targeted. Cyberbullying is also repeated and targeted though online and is specific to minors.

What can we do to understand and prevent Cyberbullying? Communication with your child is key. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of talking to your child. A recent Huffington Post article, “Family Dinners May Help Kids Cope with Cyberbullying,” states, “Like victims of face-to-face bullying, kids who experience internet bullying are vulnerable to mental health and substance use problems – but spending more time communicating with their parents may help protect them from these harmful consequences.”

The Huffington Post sites a study conducted by Frank J. Elgar of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal, in which he and his team anonymously surveyed voluntary data from more than 18,000 teens at 49 schools in Wisconsin. Here are their findings:


  • “About one in five students said they had been bullied on the Internet or by text messaging at least once over the past year.


  • Cyberbullying was more common for girls than for boys, for kids who had been victims of face-to-face bullying, and for those who themselves had bullied other kids in person.


  • Cyberbullying tended to increase as students got older.


  • Youngsters who had been cyberbullied were more likely to also report mental health problems like anxiety, self-harm, thoughts of suicide, fighting, vandalism and substance use problems, according to results in JAMA Pediatrics September 1.


  • Almost 20 percent of the kids reported an episode of depression, while around five percent reported suicide attempts or misuse of over the counter or prescription drugs.


  • Teens who were often cyberbullied were more than twice as likely to have been drunk, fought, vandalized property, or had suicidal thoughts, and were more than four times as likely to have misused drugs than those who were never cyberbullied.


  • As the number of weekly family dinners increased, the differences in mental health issues for kids who were or were not cyberbullied decreased.


‘The more contact and communication you have with young people, the more opportunities they have to express problems they have and discuss coping strategies,’ Elgar said. ‘Essentially the relationships between victimization and all other mental health outcomes were lessened with more frequent family dinners.’ ”

Family dinners to us signal a time when you can connect and talk to your child or children without the interruption of phones, computers or other distractions. It is quality time when the events of that day can be discussed and you all check in with each other. It is basic undistracted communication with your child that will allow you into their world and them into yours. Discuss with your child what quality time they enjoy with you and find a way to make it happen. Enjoy it and appreciate it.

While findings and statistics such as the above study are hard to find because cyberbullying is a newer problem, we can do our best to learn from the knowledge at hand and use them as a guide to help us understand the growing problem of cyberbullying and prevent it from happening to our children.

— Mary

“I’ll be There for You”

Posted on Bullying, Conflict Resolution, Feelings, Friendship, General, Parenting January 13, 2015 by Mary George

Friends – there is very little on the planet that is better than a good friend. Someone that you can trust, talk to about anything and someone who is there no matter what. This semester our after school classes in Rye are focusing on Friendship – how to make and keep a friend, navigating conflict successfully, what qualities to look for in a true friend, communication and self-esteem within friendships. These skills are incredibly important for children to learn as they go through their elementary, middle school and high school years. It will help them make good decisions and work through situations with friends as they arise throughout their lives. As parents, what can we do to support them and guide them in a healthy and productive way through these years? Here are some ideas to help you along the way…

Be your daughter’s role model. You are the person that your daughter will look to and imitate. Show her good, positive social behavior. Be kind to others, talk to many different parents, do not gossip about others and above all listen to her. Help guide her about what you do in certain social situations.

Tell you daughter that they do not have to be friends with everyone but they have to respect everyone. We see this throughout our lives. Inherently there are people that we just do not click with, whether it is having different interests or just having a different perspective on life. This is not right or wrong, it is just life but the way that we deal with these situations is what is important. In class we do role-plays with our students to work through situations that are commonplace in their lives and to show them what kindness and respect look like. If you have certain situations that you know are occurring in your daughter’s life, discuss with her how to show kindness and respect to someone regardless of whether or not they are good friends.

Help guide her to solve her problem independently. Lawrence Cohen, PhD, psychologist and author of “Playful Parenting” says, “I am more of a believer in getting elementary-school girls to do their own thinking and helping them brainstorm solutions, even if they are different from the parent solutions. Guiding her to solve it independently (with a little help from you) will help her far more than you rushing to call the other girls’ parents.” Here are some questions that might help her solve the problem:

“What did you try?”

“How did it work?”

“What else can you try?”

“These questions help parents get out of the trap of telling kids what to do,” says Cohen. Even if the answer to the first question is ‘nothing,’ your second question then becomes, ‘How did nothing work?’ ” These coping skills will help your daughter have a sense of control over the situation as well as teach her a positive way to work through social issues as they arise. Also, make sure that as parents you separate your own emotions from your daughter’s social life.

These life skills will help our daughters have a positive social life by knowing how to consciously solve problems, make decisions and deal with whatever situations are thrown their way.