When Hurt Turns to Anger, Turns to Shame, Turns to Fear: Tips to Start the School Year out Right
It seems to me that every new school year my kids (and yours) face more and more adversity. I often find myself (as a parent) wishing I was better at preparing my children to face bulling, rejection, shameful feelings, and self-confidence issues. My girls and foster children have struggled with these issues. In my research and personal experience, I have found not one thing works on all children, but if I can do my best at consistently being receptive to my children’s emotions, teach empathy, validate feelings, and come up with a way to solve a problem—that works! But first I have to consistently rid myself of my own fears and mirror disappointments and fear in a healthy way. To live well, we must grieve well.
When we are shamed with anger and rage, our underlined emotion or reaction is fear. One fear I will discuss is that of rejection. There is no greater shameful pain of loss than that of rejection. Fear of rejection can result in great loss for anyone. Rejection for someone may mean that they are unlovable or unwanted. When going through a battle of feelings of rejection or loss we (especially children) need social support, feelings of mirrored affection, time, self-talk, and emotional coaching. I will admit, rejection is a hard pill to swallow for me. There is no way to escape rejection or loss in this human life. The important thing is how we deal with it. Here are some tips for getting the ball rolling for success with coaching your child about fear of rejection and bulling.
Fear of rejection is the center of bulling in my eyes. When shame cries out—fear of rejection and hurt screams—and we become a bully, even to ourselves. Many of my foster children bullied and were bullied. Kids and adults sometimes wanted to shame them for their actions and could render no empathy when they were being bullied. Once again, fear of rejection, being left out, being unloved is the root of this pain! Shame or fear does not help children to feel like a worthy person, but understanding and love does. Teach the feeling behind the fear and then strive to help that person change their negative views of themselves.
Validation is number one! First and forth right. This takes TIME. Validate your child’s feelings and concerns. As a teacher, parent, friend, or peer, children need to feel heard and understood, don’t we all. This is a universal concept, but do we really do it? Or are we good at it? I know it takes practice for sure. I have not always been validated in my life and I have had to learn how to do this with my children. In addition, remember to teach your children to validate themselves. People (and the world) are not always going to validate them. So the next thing to teach is self-talk and how to trust and love themselves first so they do not need to bully their self-concept or others.
Stand tall, look confident, tell yourself you are worth it—is sometimes hard to do. Why is that? Are we taught that we should just know that we have worth? It is hard sometimes for an adult to overcome fears and self-talk ourselves to a happier tomorrow, let alone a child. But I also think children now days are very resilient because of parents and caregivers like you that have taught them to stick up for themselves, try a little harder, and be proud of who they are. But some kids just plain and simple have a harder time with self-talk. Research shows children that suffer from ADHD and autism lack skills in self-talk. Yet, I believe like many things, it takes practice. Through therapeutic techniques, these can be taught and improved. Here some ideas. I have used visual aids to help remind kids to rid those bad thoughts that creep in. You can even use a small item (ex. small smooth rock, string, necklace) that they can take to school that remind them that they are special and to self-talk themselves every time they touch it. You can repeat or chant words to yourself while doing an activity like-
“No matter what others say or do, I am still a worthy person.”
“The more I like myself, the more others like themselves.”
“I ______like myself and I am a lovable person.”
“I am special because______.”
Another way to make sure your child’s underlining fear or anger is understood is by teaching skills of recognizing their own feelings. If a child can not recognize what is going on with their body or heart, then they will not be able to regulate themselves. One of my most favorite books is Raising an Emotional Intelligent Child by John Gottman, Phd. Emotional coaching is key in helping your child be more aware of how they are feeling and how safe they feel about their feelings—thus they can self-regulate better. According to Gottman’s research, emotion-coaching parents had children that later went on to be “emotionally intelligent” people. They simply could regulate their own emotions and could calm their heart rate down faster. They had fewer infectious illnesses, better attention, and they could socially relate to others, thus better friendships. When a parent or caregiver help a child cope with negative feelings, such as anger, sadness, and fear it builds bridges of loyalty and worth. Bridges, in my opinion, that will become a foundation of utmost importance for their understanding of their own self-concept.
When hurt, fear or shame turns into rejection of self or others, give your child the tools to combat the bully of the mind or on the playground by giving them comfort, self-talk, and emotional coaching.
Summer is finally here ! Hopefully you and your student(s) are enjoying the break from homework, studying, and worries about school. And isn’t that exactly what summer is for? However, as we psychologists and counselors wrap things up for this year and discuss preparations for the fall, some of our discussions involve how to better support our incoming 8th grade students. This particular jump, 8th grade into high school, has been considered particularly difficult for most adolescents given the age at which it occurs and the importance that the 14 -15 year old mind places on peers and acceptance. In the world today, however, many would argue it’s become even more difficult. Shifting academic demands placed on students contribute to this situation. The shadow of common core and the expectations on our students appears to be ever increasing. How can we, as parents, help our 8th grade students make a transition into 9th grade that is reasonable?
In today’s media we hear more and more about the negative effects bullying has on Americas youth. As parents we do everything we can to protect our kids from help becoming the victim of bully behavior, but what if our teen is the bully? Here are 4 signs to look for and ways to empower your teens to take a stand against bully behavior.
As a school psychologist working in a high school, I have the privilege of interacting with a multitude of people – adults and adolescents alike – with a common purpose; to help each other do their best each day at school and when the school day is through. Each time a parent, student, or teacher courageously walks into my office or picks up the phone to contact me, initiating some level of support, there is a striking similarity to most all referrals that come through my doorway. Regardless of the nature of the situation requiring help or support, it is almost certain that the people involved feel a sense of isolation – often deeply so – as if they are completely alone. For any of us who have felt that sense of isolation, how much courage it takes to reach out and ask for help ! Sincerely, be it a parent asking for feedback from a teacher, a teacher asking for help from a school psychologist, or an adolescent asking help from anyone is incredibly difficult.
All of us, regardless of age, experience anxiety on a daily basis. Hopefully, as adults, we have learned healthy ways to cope with life’s daily stressors and can identify those times that call for when we need more, i.e. a job loss, relationship problems, a death, an illness, etc. If we’ve prepared well, we have the tools, resources, and supportive people ready and in place when we need them.
Attending high school gives teens ample opportunity, perhaps more than they’d like – on a daily basis – to practice coping skills managing different kinds of anxiety in numerous settings (social, academic, and personal.) While feeling anxiety from a low to moderate level can be unpleasant, it’s also beneficial. It helps teens in the short term: I’m worried about my chemistry test, so I’m going to increase my study time tonight. It’s beneficial in the longer run and helps teens build self-esteem: I’m proving to myself that while I only got a C- on my last test, I put forth extra effort and improved my grade to a C. These examples involve a real event. Anxiety can also involve a perceived event. For example: I perceive my friends don’t like me, so I’ll choose to start engaging with new peers who are more positive. Because anxiety develops from thinking about real or imagined events, almost any situation can set the stage for it to occur. While most children will experience some anxiety related to school and will cope well, some children experience excessive anxiety.
(c) Can Stock Photo
Spring is here and with each longer day of – hopefully – sunny weather, it’s also time for a new season of high school sports: baseball, softball, tennis, and soccer. For many of us, this may bring memories of own experiences, positive or negative, which we may or may not be conscious of. Regardless of whether you pitched your team through the state finals, missed kicking the winning the goal, kept the bench warm for your teammates or choose to ‘watch and cheer’ here are some useful ideas to consider to support your teen when he/she tries out or plays competitive high school sports.
Do you ever feel like communication with your teen is going no where? Have you ever wondered if your teen has a mom/dad filter that blocks out everything you say? You’re not alone. My favorite tip to help build better communication patterns with families (and couples) is using the acronym G.I.V.E.
Although it may not seem like it, your teens are watching your behavior just as much as you are watching theirs. Show your teens that family time is an important part of your family life by being consistent, enthusiastic, and engaged. Put away your cell phone and focus on the family if you expect them to do the same.
2) Make it a scheduled event
Pick a day and stick to it! Chances are your teen’s social life is buzzing with friends, school, and other activities, making a scheduled event increases the chances that your teen (and you) will fit it into the schedule. Send them a reminder a few days before and remember to tell them the day of that you are looking forward to spending time with them.
Most parents would be horrified to think of their little girl as a sexualized object in our society, but that is what “smart” marketing is doing without our conscious awareness. Watch for my tips on how to protect your children from this cultural phenomenon as well as ways parents can teach their children their individual worth, beauty, and self-esteem. http://kutv.com/news/features/fresh-living/main/stories/vid_653.shtml
Mean girls. It’s a title that has become common conversation in parenting circles. But the mean girl syndrome is not reserved for Junior High – in fact, it’s happening in Kindergarten.
Relational bullying or the “mean girl syndrome” is affecting girls at a younger age. The mean girl phenomenon used to start around 5th or 6th grade but now we are seeing it as early as first grade. I have seen children excluded from the group for how they dress, their religion and sadly even for their weight. The behavior usually begins as a “secret club” or best friends.