Sunday, September 30, 2018

Parents: Don't punish kids who report bullying

We went to school authorities over a girl who bullied our daughter. Afterwards, my husband punished our daughter by grounding her. 

These are kids who have great families, grades, and accomplishments.

We always check her social media. She said we didn’t know anything because she erases it and doesn’t want to be punished again.

She said no one cares and she’s ostracized, pushed, threatened, and rumored about.
She said she was going to the police and her dad went ballistic.

That’s when she attempted suicide. The school asked us to move her to another school, but she doesn’t want to do that.

We’re at our wits’ end.

Worn-out Mom

Dear Mom,

We believe that parents can be a great line of defense for their children by believing their children and believing in them.

We also believe that collectively parents, schools and communities have a responsibility to truly try to understand bullying today and how we may turn each community away from bullying and create civility in our culture.

Our definition of Civility is consideration, caring, and courtesy. It’s a difficult job in our current society, when so many adults are not being the best examples.

It takes a lot of Courage for our kids to admit their deeply painful and humiliating relational 
experiences to their most trusted adults, their parents, their teachers, and all the leaders in their community.

Parents can help their children’s Confidence and sense of self-worth by being persistent, using civility to be determined and keep Communicating with other parents, schools and authorities involved, until our society is enlightened, educated, and refined.

Parents can also help by being involved with their kids to find and practice their Creativity by demonstrating their internal and external talents.

Real solutions to end bullying with civility are:
  1. Build leadership skills with our  5Cs: Civility, Courage, Confidence, Communication and Creativity
  2. Tell kids to “Speak Up” (with civility) when bullying starts and mean it. Children are often bullied right beneath posters saying “Zero Tolerance for Bullying.”
  3. Bullycide is real – every attempted suicide must be taken seriously and happens when kids are not believed, are punished for telling on bullies, and can’t find a solution.
  4. As a last resort, get the police/ law enforcement members involved.
  5. Education is imperative. Bullying is the same as abuse – someone wanting power over someone else.

Bullying may happen to anyone, regardless of their socio-economic status, their intellect, their education, their popularity or celebrity (or normalcy). It is still an epidemic that must end with civility.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"I Don't Know" is Not an Answer

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My 15 year-old daughter has a bad habit of saying, “I don’t know” when I ask her anything.

I’ll ask her what movie she wants to see or which dress she likes best. She says she “doesn’t know.” She seems to want me to make up her mind for her.

One of her teachers sent a note home telling me she was worried about my daughter getting into a good college simply because she can’t articulate well enough during class and hasn’t defined her identity.

As her college advisor said to my girl, “‘I don’t know,’ is not an answer.”

Unknowing mom

Dear Mom,

Her teacher has a point. When your daughter has college interviews and answers, “I don’t know,” she will not be taken seriously.

The biggest problem with the answer, “I don’t know” is that it sounds like, “I don’t care.”
People who say “I don’t know” may be embarrassed to talk or feel unsure about giving the “right” answer.

“I don’t know” is said when someone is frustrated, disinterested, or scared. In our culture today, being wrong is a set-up for being bullied.

Something you may want to try is to wait for an answer.

You may ask the following:
1.    “Pretend you have a choice of answers – what are they – and which would you pick?”
2.    “If you did have an idea of an answer, what would it be?”
3.    “Answer a question with a question to find clarity in the question.”

TV psychologist Dr. Phil, said, “We teach people how to treat us”—and that is especially true when it comes to establishing credibility and influence at school, college, or work. Every time you say “I don’t know,” you teach people not to come to you next time.

You may try the Dr. Frank Lyman strategy (from 1981): think – pair – share time, where each member, individually and silently, thinks about a team question. It’s a learning and confidence building strategy to create real answers and solutions, together.

Teams don’t usually become embarrassed or scared, unlike sharing lone thoughts, ideas, and answers to questions. Plus, your daughter will gain the courage and confidence to share individually

Confide in your girl that you understand how she feels – you’ve felt it too. In a most kind way, tell her she doesn’t need to say “I don’t know,” anymore, because she has strategies to learn, seek, and dig deep to define herself.

One more thing; tell her that her answer may be wrong, may cause laughter, and even bullying, but a hard-sought answer is better than “I don’t know.”
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Why Won't Parents Parent?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My granddaughter is a spoiled brat. She talks back to her mom. She demands and tells her mom what she’s going to do. She never gets consequences.

I had rules and consequences. I was good to my son and showed him love. However, I didn’t let him talk back to me or tell me what he was going to do. My daughter-in-law says things are different now.

My son had a star-chart and was rewarded for doing chores and obeying rules. He got special things, like a movie. When we stopped with the chart, we continued the practices.

I don’t understand why my son allows disrespect. He appreciates his wife being a “friend” to their daughter.

I love my daughter-in-law, but she coddles her girl too much, taking her shopping (allowing her to buy immodest clothes), to lunches, and spas. 

My granddaughter also tries to manipulate me. It doesn’t work. Now she avoids me.

What can I do besides hanging her upside down by her toes?

Distressed Grandma

Dear Grandma,

You’re an amazing grandma. It seems you raised your son to be self-sufficient and responsible. You set boundaries and you are a good example for your son and his family. You’re a strong-willed person who can’t be bullied into changing your morals and ethics.

We need more parents who parent (which isn’t easy), and not parents who want to be friends with their kids. Parents are not there to do a friend’s job of being a confidant, a fun companion, or a sympathizer. They are there to protect, guide, and help their child to become a mature, good and responsible citizen in society.

Your son and daughter-in-law might have good intentions; however, they probably don’t realize they could be creating a narcissistic, entitled, and bullying daughter. Without boundaries, they inadvertently can contribute to their daughter’s conduct damaging herself and others.

Permissive parenting can produce the following behaviors in children:

• Difficulty in self-management and self-discipline, which causes low self-worth, masking pseudo-confidence;
• Future disappointing relationships when she doesn’t get her way;
• No long term satisfaction, which comes from hard work, ethics, manners, and healthy relationships;
• Inability to accept authority from anyone, including teachers, police, and other authorities;
• Permissive parents lose opportunities to help make important life decisions on vital issues with their children, like education and values.

Your granddaughter is in need of structure and limits. For all of your sakes, show this column to your son and daughter-in-law.

We applaud your concern for civility (but don’t use labels)!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Making Common Courtesy Common Again

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My wife and I are grandparents of teenagers. We’re from a different era; however, we want to know what to do about the need for common courtesy. 

We go to sporting events, dance recitals, and birthday parties for our grandchildren, where basic “thank you” and “please” are lacking.

We taught our children how to be polite, but it doesn’t seem to be taught to this generation. 

We asked our granddaughter if she got our graduation present (money), expecting a “thank you.” 

We know people don’t write hand-written notes of gratitude anymore, but we thought she would at least thank us. She just said she got it. 

Our daughter told us not to take it personally. 

We need your opinion.

Grandma and Grandpa

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Civility, by the common standard of society, was the accepted practice of showing your care, consideration, and courtesy to others. Common courtesies create a peaceable and a kind society.
Since the advent of social media (if not before), there has been a decline in our culture to practice the following top ten common courtesies:

10. Never embarrass anyone. “Embarrass” meaning: humiliate, make uncomfortable, or ashamed.

9. Apologize when you hurt another person physically, emotionally, or spiritually … and mean it. Don’t do it again.

8. Don’t interrupt conversations; you are not more important than another person.

7. Decline an invitation or change plans with great thoughtfulness and appreciation that you were invited. They’re showing you care and no one needs to be rude or lie about plans. Don’t accept or change an invitation or plans because something better comes along.

6. Respect the needs of others and their property as if it’s you and your very own property.

5. Help others save face, which means talking privately about personal subjects, especially if it isn’t something the other person wants made public. Don’t be loud or obnoxious in public and don’t gossip.

4. Do write thank you notes two weeks after a birthday, event, or receiving a present (wedding presents may take three months). It’s warmer to take the time to value others. 

3. Use good table manners like not talking with your mouth full, eating off someone else’s plate, or smacking. (Look these up and be the good example.)

2. Do not use rude language or swear, especially in public, like, “I hate you” or “shut up,” and don’t claim you were only joking.

1. Practice and teach niceties like “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and open doors or help others … always!

Let’s create a kinder, more gracious, more loving culture by saying and showing genuine care, consideration and courtesy to others. 

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Passive-Aggressive bully revealed

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m being bullied by a friend in high school. If we’re alone, she doesn’t talk and hums instead. I asked her why she wasn’t talking to me. She only answers when other friends are around.

We’re both on the cheer team and I’m the captain. In front of the team, she said I created a good routine, but she mumbled that she was just kidding.

She said I only got the captain position because the advisor is my mom’s friend. I cried and told her I couldn’t believe she was attacking me for no reason. She looked at me like I was crazy.

It worries me that she’s trying to turn other teammates against me. Maybe she wanted to be cheer captain, but she didn’t try out for it. I asked her if she was going to try out and she said, “Why, are you worried?”

I asked her what I did to make her so angry at me. She had no emotions. She looked surprised.

Confused Captain

Dear Captain,

She may have some passive-aggressive feelings towards you. However, people with passive-aggressive behavior are complicated and complex.

The NYU Medical Center defines a passive-aggressive individual as someone who "may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists." Passive- aggressive actions can range from being mild, such as making excuses for not getting together, to serious sabotaging actions.

Here are common passive-aggressive behaviors:

•    Ostracizing someone in private, making her feel like she’s in control.
•    Subtle insults without taking responsibility, because she may see herself as the victim.
•    Accusing the victim of being unselfconfident, when it’s common for a passive-aggressive bully to be a person who’s very insecure.
•    Passive-aggressive people don’t like confrontation and deflect criticism of their bad behavior. Confrontation means they may need to address their angry or uncomfortable feelings.

You may deal with her behavior by the following:

1.    Ignore her because she only feels empowered by directing her negative feelings towards you. However, this often doesn’t work and these bullies increase their harmful behavior.
2.    Be direct and honest with the bully and try not to be offended or show your hurt emotions. Set boundaries by saying that you recognize her negative behavior and you will walk away from her or call her out on her behavior each and every time she bullies you. Mean it and do it.
3.    Tell a trusted adult, if neither tactic works, until something is done about it.

Recognize that most passive-aggressive people lack self-confidence and communication skills. Your best advantage is to choose not to stay a victim.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri