Sunday, July 24, 2016

Back to school can mean back to bullying, too

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have two daughters in high school who were bullied last year for the way they dress. However, they both dress very differently.

One, Kenna (not her real name), barely rolls out of bed, brushes her teeth, throws her hair on top of her head and wears pajamas or sweats to school. She says she gets good grades because of not worrying about how she looks.

I’ve tried talking with Kenna about taking care of herself but she says I’m no different than the rest of the world that cares so much about looks and not about brains.

My other daughter, Mikayla (not her real name), is the exact opposite. Mikayla spends hours in the morning getting ready with all her hair tools and products, and all her expensive makeup and brushes.

She has literally refused to go to school if she doesn’t think her hair looks good or she feels “fat” in an outfit. She has been bullied for being fat – which is ridiculous because she’s not even close.

Both of my daughters are cyberbullied at school. I’m thinking about not letting them have phones at school, so they won’t look at the bullying on Facebook or the texts they get.

But they ganged up on me and said, “You are going to make things worse,” and “We will be bullied more if we don’t have phones.”

Their dad and brother sided with them. I feel like the bad guy.

Mom of bullied daughters

Dear Mom,

Unfortunately girls are frequently bullied at school because of their appearance. Weight, clothes, and the designer accessories are at the top of the list.

While no one should be bullied for their appearance, it does not mean that appearance doesn’t matter.

Appearance does matter:

• Style is about defining oneself and how you express yourself.

• Respect for yourself includes good daily grooming habits and having style (not fashion).

• Schools, parents, and students are wise to require that students not become a distraction, which may happen with over-dressing or under-dressing.

• Confidence comes from caring about yourself enough to take care of yourself first, then focus on helping others.

• Confidence also means not needing to be “perfect” but to be simply your best.

We have four simple styles we discuss at our Leadership Academy sessions with a basic and classic wardrobe starter for all girls.

    Choose a solid color for all basic wardrobe items such as black or white or a bright color. Then start collecting the following items in that color:

• 1 pair pants

• 1 skirt and dress

• 1 jacket

• 1 top

• 1 jeans

• 1 pair of dressy, casual, and athletic shoes

    Branch out in one of the four styles for additional accessories, tops, and pants.

• Trendy – (most expensive) items that do not last a long time but are fun to wear.

• Artsy – Museum-like in being unique and unusual.

• Sporty – Polo shirts/ khaki’s/ plaids/ stripes/ casual but athletic looking.

• Romantic – glitzy, flowing, flowers, ruffles, bows, and so on.

Mom and Dad, please structure rules for your daughters, and sons, of acceptable behavior, commitment to school and community, respect for authority, values and principles, and do not allow your children to stay home (that is your decision and not your children’s) or leave without proper grooming.

Your children will learn courage to define who they want to be if they have strong guidance on their basic foundation of behavior and not on the current culture of entitlement.

Having a cell phone is a privilege and we do not like cell phones at school, where most bullying occurs. At least turn off the Wi-Fi system and no Pokémon Go!

Remember, we do not condone any of the bullying that your daughters are subjected to, however, help them live our Triangle of Triumph – victim to survivor to leader.

Parents, please help your kids to know that they do not choose to be a victim, but they do choose not to stay one, and ultimately they must choose to be a good leader of themselves and then others.

Teachers, parents, school administrators, and students – please contact Rhonda to speak at your school in an assembly to Stop Bullying!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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