Search Results for 'bullying'

Q&A: “I’m a 12-Year-Old Girl Who Doesn’t Like Her New School”

Written on October 9, 2012 at 10:50 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. I’m a 12-year-old girl who doesn’t like her new school. People aren’t open to helping me, there are so few kids to make friends with and I’m getting frustrated. Is there a way to make things better?

A. That’s terrible! You’d hope everyone would realize how hard it is for you as a new kid. It’s time to take matters into your own hands. First, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you can make one or two friends by spring break, I’d consider that a win. It’s possible the kids in your class have grown up together and that can be really intimidating, but the work you do as a team will give you opportunities to strengthen bonds. Are there any group projects coming up? Things you’re interested in at school that other kids are into as well? If so, invite a group over to your house to work or hang together. Friendships will develop from there.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Important New Book “Bully: An Action Plan”

Written on October 4, 2012 at 10:07 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

A year ago AC360’s town hall special Bullying: It Stops Here premiered. Several experts (myself included) and wonderful, brave children participated that day, and we showed clips of Bully, an extraordinary documentary profiling five young people who had been bullied. Working on that special and supporting the movie have been heartfelt projects for me, and I’ve watched with real pride how both have done an outstanding job of bringing attention to this problem.

I remember when I first saw the movie. I was so surprised, saddened and in some ways relieved that Lee Hirsch had captured on film what I unfortunately see too often: desperate kids, well-meaning adults who don’t know what to do, and parents who are torn between frustration—sometimes at their own children for being silent targets—and helpless fury at school administrators who do nothing, at best.

It’s a painful movie with no happy ending. There are no talking heads offering helpful strategies. For these understandable reasons, many people who saw the movie and would have liked to show it to their kids wanted more resources to pick up where the movie leaves off. That need has been answered: The creators of Bully recently published Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis.

The book takes over where the movie ends. Interwoven with the stories of the children in the movie is advice from experts on how to recognize when your child is being bullied and what we can say as parents and educators. Particularly moving to me are the words of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “Bully probably has been something of a reality check for many classroom teachers. Some teachers who see the film find themselves wondering if they’ve missed bullying in their classrooms and hallways: Have kids suffered because they didn’t notice? Is this behavior happening in their school? The fact that those questions are being asked and that educators are having ongoing conversations about the answers is another example of how the power of this documentary extends far beyond the individual stories it tells.”

In addition, experts such as Dr. Robyn Silverman, Peter Sharas and Michele Borba (as well as yours truly) offer commonsense ways for parents and educators to reach out to kids who are targets, bystanders and aggressors.

Our efforts are making a difference. Just watch this local news anchor passionately articulate her experience of being bullied by a viewer for being overweight. She’s a great example of how each one of us can transform a painful personal experience into a powerful opportunity for leadership. She and others like her are the kind of adults kids need to see more of.

Read our other posts about “Bully.”

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Parenting Q&A: “I Can’t Afford to Give My Kids Everything. Will They Suffer Emotionally?”

Written on October 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm , by

 

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. How do you keep your family happy? And by “happy,” I mean comfortable without cost. Times are tough now, but I don’t want my kids to suffer emotionally because I can’t afford to give them everything.

A. Although life can be horribly stressful when money is tight, it’s so clear to me from my work around the country that having a lot of cash is no guarantee of a child’s contentment or a family’s harmony. So I’d like you to consider redefining happiness as striving for these four things in life: curiosity, hope of success in something you feel good about, being a part of something beyond yourself, and feeling connected to your loved ones and your community. I’ve found that’s where true joy lies for adults and kids. And if your children still complain about not getting the latest iPhone, have an honest conversation with them that includes a look at the family budget. When you do this calmly, your kids are more likely to accept (and appreciate) why their entire Christmas list isn’t going to end up under the tree next month.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

How to supervise a kid on Facebook

Written on October 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm , by

I have two Facebook-using teens so I know how difficult it is to monitor what they are up to online. If they don’t want to be supervised, they have more time and more energy to throw at avoiding me than I have to spend stalking them around the Internet. So I remind myself that the goal is not to watch everything they do but to teach them to not make mistakes. (And to verify that they haven’t.)

So when my son locked down the privacy setting on his Facebook page and isolated me in a group with other adults – teachers, parents, anyone who reports to parents — so that none of us could see posts he doesn’t want us to see, I resisted the urge to get angry or hurt. He had accomplished what I wanted: He was paying close attention to his privacy settings and giving serious thought to the repercussions of every post.

I still worry about the things I’m afraid he doesn’t know about: How much data is being collected about him and sold to marketers by the apps and games on Facebook, for example. (For more on that, check out this story I wrote on that a while back.)

But is there anything I can do about that except warn him? Yes. I suggested he install Secure.me.

If you install this Facebook app in your child’s profile, it will watch her activity and warn you of hazards. Someone tagging your child’s photo with her name? Strangers friending your child? Strong language in her profile that could mean bullying or that she doesn’t understand how to behave in a social network? Even if your child unfriends you, Secure.me will continue to alert you to mistakes and anything that looks suspect. You will probably get a lot of false alarms. But at least you will be in the loop. And the information comes to you so you don’t have to stalk your kids quite so much.

But when kids get older, it can be difficult to get them to let you install something like this. And if you have a teen like mine, who will edit code to make sure I’m not in his business, he will just uninstall it (or pick up and move to another profile) if I lay down the law. He’s doing a pretty good job of managing his profile already – even if he is mostly motivated by his desire to avoid his stalker mother.

So I suggested he install Secure.me and have it send the warnings to him. This way, Secure.me can point out posts, tags, privacy settings, and other activity it deems dangerous directly to him. Hopefully this will not only clean up his profile but also educate him to the dangers as it does. And, since the tool recently started monitoring Facebook apps for how much data they collect, it will even take care of that worry for me. And, more importantly in the long room, this will get him to think about privacy issues that will likely become a much bigger problems as he gets older. I’d like it if he asked Secure.me to send alerts about his profile to me as well. (But then I’d like it if he never drove a car, too.) But, even if he won’t do that, at least this way he has safety net.

Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.” You can find her at GeekGirlfriends.com, as well as here on Momster.com.

 

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Parenting Q&A: My Son’s Having Difficulty With Our Move

Written on September 17, 2012 at 11:10 am , by

 

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Question: After losing our jobs, my husband and I decided to move to live with family until we got back on our feet. Our 10-year-old son is having a difficult time with the relocation: unable to make friends, arguing with us and even hitting himself. How can we help him?

Answer: Moving is always hard. Now imagine you’re 10 and your family is going through tremendous financial stress. Friendships can be key to feeling stable, but since he hasn’t been able to establish them there’s an added strain. I know money is tight, but don’t let that stop you from getting your son help because hitting himself is a sign that he’s in serious trouble. Find out if there’s a school counselor he can speak to. Or ask his pediatrician for a referral. Also, don’t dismiss his feelings with parental clichés like “If you just put out some effort, you’d make friends, no problem.” His emotions are understandable, and what he needs most is your support.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Q&A: “My Dad’s New Family is Mean to Me”

Written on September 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Question: I’m 13 years old and my parents are separated. I spend some weekends at my dad’s house and his new family is mean to me. My dad and his fiancée criticize me for being lazy and overweight. They often say they’re joking, but I’m in tears when I get home to my mom. How do I make them stop?

Answer: Unfortunately, I get many letters from kids in your situation and it comes down to one solution: You have to be more mature than your parent. If you want to tell your dad how you feel, bring someone with you whom your dad respects, like an uncle or grandmother. If you have to do it alone, be prepared to have your mom pick you up around the corner from his house in case the conversation doesn’t go well. When you tell him how you feel, don’t bring up everything he’s ever done. Describe patterns of behavior, like he insults your appearance and abilities, or his fiancée does and he backs her up. If he gets defensive or laughs, say, “I’d like to have a good relationship with  you. I have a right to my feelings, even if you disagree with them. How you’re reacting makes me not want to be here. So I’m going to leave and when you want to talk to me about it, let me know.” Then ask your ally to take you home. Remember, your goal is to live in an emotionally safe home. If your dad can’t give that to you right now, stay at your mom’s.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Parenting Q&A: My Son Was Barred From Neighborhood Gatherings

Written on September 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Question: Our 7-year-old son was banned from a neighbor’s house and then barred from all neighborhood gatherings. He has impulse control problems, which we’ve spoken to the other families about, and sees a counselor. But he still gets into trouble playing with local kids. What should we do?

Answer: Meeting and preparing other parents and counseling are all great moves. As painful as this is, you need to acknowledge that your son may have acted in a way that truly scared the other family, but they don’t know how to tell you. So I’d have one conversation with the parents directly involved in the incident and say, “My son mentioned that you banned him from your house. Is that true, and if so can you tell me why?” If they give you an answer, thank them, assure them that you respect their decision, and let them know you’ll continue working with him to improve his behavior. Then tell your son’s therapist what happened so that he or she can help him process his feelings and work on a strategy to address the problem.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

 

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Facebook For Teens: Best Practices and Online Behavior Tips

Written on September 7, 2012 at 11:45 am , by

My son studies with Facebook open on his laptop. I have tried fighting this. But this year, I decided to make peace with it. I insist he do his homework in the family room while I work or cook dinner so I can redirect his attention if Facebook (or YouTube) becomes too distracting. With this oversight, I’ve decided his current group of friends are helping him enjoy school so they are welcome to stop by for a virtual study group.

Facebook gives him a little company as he works. He can ask a friend from class if they understood the math or if he has the homework right. He can share a joke and make the homework hour more fun. (And YouTube is where he goes to watch a math lesson from Sal Khan at the Khan Academy, which is why he is getting good grades in math.) To make peace with the things that worry me, I added, “Talk about/Clean up Facebook” to my to-do list for back to school. I figure if Facebook has become part of school, we will do it right. So before I got down to the cleaning up the virtual house (see below) for the school year, I decided we needed to talk about appropriate online behavior.

Saying bad things about teachers on social media, for example, can get you into a lot of trouble. I shared a story I’d heard over dinner about a local teacher expelling a student for slanderous comments made on Twitter. We talked about cyber-bullying and how to avoid being either bullied or bully. I discovered that both of my kids wanted to know the rules so they could avoid accidentally breaking them. In fact, they seemed a little confused about what they could say face-to-face versus online.

Essentially I was explaining something that’s obvious to those of us who grew up before the Internet but is apparently not clear to those who have grown up having as much social interaction online as off. Facebook is a form of publishing. What you post there can have a very long life and get shared with people you didn’t intend to share it with. It is safest when it’s used for sharing happy statements (things you “like” rather than those you don’t), profound observations, and statements you don’t mind people associating with your identity. If you are angry and need to blow off steam, pick up the phone and talk to someone. Save the Facebook commentary for comments you are willing to share with everyone , including the thing or person you are talking about.

After our chat, it was time to spiff up their Facebook pages so they could be proud to share them with friends and teachers at school. As it happens, Facebook recently sent me some tips on this. I love getting tips from the pros. So here they are:

  • Say Cheese: Make a great first impression by filling the wide open space at the top of your timeline with a unique image that represents you best (a great summer trip, your dog or a favorite photo with you and your friends) and shows off your creativity or interests. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline. Make it memorable.
  • Share Memories: Share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline, what camp you went to this summer, a few classes you may be excited for this fall and any of the milestones you may have hit since school ended a few months ago. Use your timeline to share your life story from beginning to now with friends and family. Highlight or star photos you specifically want friends to see so they appear bigger on your timeline. Edit posts to make them visible to only you or a select group of friends.
  • Curate: Go through your activity log, scroll through every story and adjust the settings on photos or posts from your timeline so all your friends (or just certain groups of friends,  family, close friends, coworkers), can see them. Sometimes not everyone (especially your teachers) need to see everything that happened over the summer.

Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle, and is the author of “How to Be a Geek Goddess.”You can find her at GeekGirlfriends.com, as well as here on Momster.com.

 

Best Ways To Avoid a Trash Talking Teen

Written on August 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

A girl I’m trying my best to avoid does nothing but talk trash to me and brings up my bad past to get on my nerves. I have an anger problem and I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and be a better person. How can I move on if I’m reminded everyday of mistakes I’ve made in the past. Please help me, Haley

Haley, it’s always annoying to have people in your life that are determined to bring you down. And it’s easy to say, “I’m not going to let them get to me,” but way, way harder to actually do that in real life.

Think about it like this:
1. You’re smart enough to realize how this girl is trying to manipulate you. This is critical because a lot of people in your situation would be so angry and reactive that they wouldn’t be able to see these dynamics. If you can’t see it than you can’t manage yourself effectively.

2. Whatever you did or happened to you that gave you a bad reputation, you need to remember that you found the strength to want something better for yourself.

3. The trash-talking girl wants you back in that bad place. It doesn’t matter why. So yes, she could be insecure and have a bad home life but that fact doesn’t take away from what she’s doing to you.

Deal with it like this:
This may sound weird but when I’m in your situation (and it’s happened to me, too) I have a playlist that I listen to or sing in my head. On my phone I call it my “Strength and Inspiration” playlist. I want you to choose five songs that make you feel strong in a positive way (don’t choose songs that make you feel like you want revenge). As soon as you see her or when she says some snarky comment to you or about you, play one of your songs or sing it in your head.

In the spirit of full disclosure I’ll share with you some of my songs.

Work That Mary J. Blige
Something Beautiful Trombone Shorty
I am not my Hair India Arie and Akon
What it’s Like Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
It Don’t Come Easy Bettye Levette

Also, pay attention to any messengers, the people who tell you that the girl talks behind your back. Always ask yourself what their motivation is: Are they telling you because they care about you or because they want to increase the drama?

Here’s a sample script that may help you based on my SEAL strategy (Stop, Explain, Affirm, Lock). The “push back” is what the other person would probably say to get you mad or distracted. The situation is when someone just came up to you and said, “Did you hear what’ horrible girl’ is saying about you now?”

STOP: Play your song in your head and breathe so your heart slows down. Ask yourself what the messenger’s motivation is. If you think she’s a drama starter answer her with: Thanks for telling me. Please don’t talk about this with others. You’re doing this because you don’t want to feed the fire.

Then, to ‘horrible girl,’ EXPLAIN: I’m hearing that you’re talking X about me. I’m not asking to tell me if the gossip is true. I’m asking that if any part of it’s true that you stop.

Push back: She laughs. “There’s nothing going on. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Affirm (your right to be treated with dignity): Then I’d expect the things I’m hearing to end.

Push back: Well even if I’m not saying anything I can’t stop what other people say.

Lock: Look, I’m coming to you and asking you to lay off. That’s not an easy thing to do. Obviously, I can’t control what you do but that’s what I’m asking. What I can control is myself. You can try to make me feel bad but I’m not going to let you.

Then you walk away with your song in your head.

One last thing: as tempting as it is, don’t complain about her to other kids. If you need to vent (and I’d totally understand if you did) talk to a sibling or a person in your family that you’re close to. Pick someone who’s good at listening and helps you think through things.

Remember, if you do any part of this, that’s success. This is an extremely difficult situation but if you can face this you can pretty much face anything.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

How We Embarrass Our Kids, and How to Stop

Written on August 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

I can’t even sneeze without my child wanting to die of embarrassment! I can’t even breathe!

As parents of tweens and teens we tend to marvel and laugh about how embarrassed our children are of us. Okay, you’re allowed to sneeze and breathe however you want. But these aren’t the only ways we mortify our kids. I’ve recently come to the unfortunate conclusion that sometimes when our children are embarrassed of us, they’re right—even though our behavior is based on good intentions or understandable concern.

Let me give you a few examples. Look at them from a kid’s perspective and you’ll get it. And for the record, I’ve been guilty of every one.

 

An adult asks your child a question and you answer for her.

Let me set the scene: Your child is introduced to a new teacher, coach, your boss, who asks, “So what are you interested in?” Instantaneously you’re worried and thinking to yourself, Is he going to shrug his shoulders and mumble? Is he going to say he likes to play Call of Duty? Is she going to say, “What I really like doing is texting my friends?” So before your child can answer, you’re answering for her about her love of robotics club, student council or the team she’s trying out for next week. When your child stands there mute and then gets mad at you, you accuse her of being rude or a moody teen. But when you answer for her, she feels she’s being treated like she doesn’t have the capacity to answer for herself and you aren’t giving her a chance to practice presenting herself to other people.

You introduce your child by his deficits.

Imagine if your kid introduced you by saying, “Here’s my mother, Rosalind. She’s really shy.” Is it any wonder that the 15-year-old boy whose mother recently introduced him to me like this ran into his room? Yes, he might be shy, but it certainly didn’t help for his mom to point it out and increase his self-consciousness.

 

Oversharing.

She never cleans up her room. She’s on that phone texting all the time to her friends. It’s amazing how early puberty starts these days! It’s just so hard raising a teen isn’t it?

 

You shouldn’t be telling random people about your relationship with your child. This includes people in the grocery checkout line, strangers you strike up a conversation with, or even good friends if your son or daughter is around. When you’re having a problem that you really want to talk to another adult about, do it privately—away from your child.

While it’s hard to admit, our kids have the right to be angry and embarrassed if we discuss aspects of their lives that they consider intimate. They don’t want to be put into the box of being the moody teen. They want you to respect their privacy, and that means treating them respectfully in public.

***

If you’re guilty of any of the above, go to your child and say, “I’ve realized that sometimes I talk for you and don’t give you the opportunity to speak for yourself. From now on, I’m going to really try to stop myself. But if I don’t, I want you to say politely, ‘Mom, it’s okay. I’ve got it.’ I promise I’ll stop. And if I overshare, you can politely tell me to stop and I will.”

Yes, your child may not believe you’re capable of changing. He may not be able to resist expressing his doubt. Prove him wrong! I guarantee that your overall relationship will improve significantly. You may even get fewer of those annoying eye rolls and “Mom…you’re so embarrassing” comments.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

How To Respond To Your Kid Being Sexually Harassed At School

Written on June 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm , by

 

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Many readers of my June 7th blog asked what happened with Olivia, the girl who had written to me about how to tell her mom she was being sexually harassed at school. I checked in with Olivia a few days ago, and here is her response.

Hi Rosalind,

I ended up telling my mom the specifics, she was really understanding. I didn’t show her the article but I followed your advice in it. I realized that this boy who was so mean was truly not worth my time. He is just a learning experience and next time I will know how to handle things if this ever happens again. So grateful for all your advice.

-Olivia

 

Reading her reply, I was struck by how a terrible experience can be turned around. When Olivia was able to tell her mother what was specifically happening to her at school, her mom responded by being “really understanding.” That means she listened to Olivia without freaking out and letting her anger and anxiety get the best of her. But she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show her daughter what a great mom she is if Olivia had kept quiet. And all Olivia would have been left with was what her mom had said when Olivia first tried to tell her about the situation: “That’s just the way boys are at this age.”

Instead, what Olivia took away from this experience is that if she tells her mom the complete truth about a problem she’s having, her mom can give her the support she needs and help her learn how to handle difficult situations. These are the moments that forever strengthen the relationship between parent and child.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

“I’m a 13-Year Old Girl. Everyone Harasses Me About My Chest Size”

Written on June 13, 2012 at 11:55 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. I am a 13-year-old girl in a difficult situation. I know boys are obsessed with breasts. But even my girlfriends harass me about my chest size and spread rumors that I stuff my bra. Why do kids do this if they know it hurts so much?

A. Unfortunately, you’re on the receiving end of everyone else’s body-image insecurities. For the boys you represent sexuality, and they’re confused and terrified of the power you have over them. As for the girls, our culture says they need big breasts to be beautiful, so they’re probably comparing themselves to you and resenting the attention you’re getting—even if you don’t like it. You must ask your friends to be your allies. Say, “I need you to believe me that comments about my chest make me feel really self-conscious. Please back me up when people say mean things to me.” To the boys say, “Look at my eyes when you’re talking to me. Yes, I have breasts. All women do. Deal with it.”

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.