Think about it. “No” is a two letter word, one syllable, easy to pronounce. Easy – to use, that’s another matter. Remember last week when you got a call to do something you really didn’t want to do but you did it anyway because you thought you should. You didn’t want the rest of the parents or your friends to think you badly of you. You gave in to peer pressure even though you wanted to say no.
It works the same way for our kids. One or more friends (or maybe just acquaintances) will ask your child to do something she doesn’t want to, but the “no” gets stuck in her throat. A little practice can help children and teens feel more confident in belting out the two letter word or using refusal tactics.
Role play just what to say and how to do it. “No, I don’t want to.” “No, my parents won’t let me.” “No, you go ahead without me.” “No, that’s not me.” Other ideas are things like: start another activity, change the subject, leave the situation, and find new friends.
Let’s go back to that phone call I mentioned earlier and my favorite mantra of parents as role models. Does your child hear you saying “no”? Does he see you giving in and doing things you really don’t want to do? Show by example how to stand up for yourself and not get pressured.
Do you have ideas on how to teach a child to say “no” or even how you’ve learned to say “no” yourself?
Empathy is the ability to understand the world from another person’s point of view. Empathy can also create motivation to treat another kindly based on that understanding.
Feelings Flashcards: Make flash cards with a photo or drawing showing different emotions such as happy and sad or scared and mad. Even three and four year olds can identify a range of emotions. Point out the different feelings and talk about them.
Share stories and personal experiences: share stories about times when you had similar feelings and let the children share back.
Puppets: Children are drawn to puppets and many lessons can be taught by them. Have puppets display different emotions and talk with children about them.
Share how you have seen empathy impact children’s relationships and friendships.
When should children begin organized sports?
Good question! Sometimes parents feel pressured to get their children into organized sports at a very young age.
I remember when my 5 year old daughter played soccer for the first time. I wanted it to be fun and something she enjoyed. It was the 4-5 year old age group, and after a couple of wildly amusing practices they had their first game. In the middle of the game she actually kicked the ball for the first time and stopped midfield, looked over at me and gave me the biggest grin and two thumbs up. She was so proud. At that moment another child ran past her and yelled “GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!”
Yep, my mouth hung open for a moment just like yours did. I can tell you that I literally saw her deflate before my very eyes. Be watchful and wary about when and where you send your children to experience their sport for the first time. Protect their egos and their developing brains.
Here’s a little info on what child development says young children can ‘handle’.
At the preschool age (3, 4, 5 years old) – children are developing a sense of independence and decision making. They are typically too young for a structured formal organized sport. Their brain development hasn’t yet mastered the ability to ‘lose gracefully’ and they can easily bored and distracted. Not to mention disruptive and frustrated. If we push them to ‘pay attention’ and ‘follow the rules’ we may actually be turning them ‘off’ to the sport in the future. Preschoolers need fun and light hearted experiences with lots of room for goofiness when it comes to sports.
How might you have handled my situation above?? Are there times that you have had similar experiences?
The birthday party invitation that never arrived, the whispers by the hallway lockers, the cruel words written on Facebook – it has happened to us and it happens to our children. We know it hurts to be talked about or excluded from groups or activities. Now after listening to the December podcast I have a name to put with this – relational aggression.
Sarah Coyne defines relational aggression as any kind of mean behavior that aims to harm a relationship or the social structure of a group. This includes gossip, spreading rumors, exclusion and so forth. Do you remember the chant – sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me? Well, wrong! Relational aggression can be just as harmful as physical aggression. The pain can linger and even last for years. I can remember incidents from my teen and college years and suspect you can also.
I think a place for parents to start is by being proactive. You don’t want your child to be aggressive in this way and you don’t want your child to be hurt by relational aggression. Sarah talked about three things that parents need to address – and you may not like these.
Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the relational aggression that is so common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
Then tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.
Ok – I realize I just gave you three things to give your attention to and none are easy. But we are talking about the pain that results from girls and boys being mean to each other. It is worth the effort to help children learn a better way of treating people. I, for one, would like to live in a world with a few less relational aggressive adults!
Listening to the podcast and reading the blog I wanted to make sure that we had more opportunity to really think about the thoughts and ideas presented so I am bringing back Donna’s 3 points. Again – you may not necessarily like these suggestions but I want to dive in a little deeper…
- Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the fact relational aggression on these shows far too common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
- Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
- Tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.
When you look at these suggestions and watch the children around you (yours or others) what are examples that you may have seen (in your children or others’ children) that show these points to be true?
How have you seen acts of relational aggression handled in a way that positively impacted the situation?
We may decide to blog about this topic all month if you would like…
Kids can be mean — whether on the elementary school playground or in the middle school hallway or high school cafeteria. Learn how parents can deal with this meanness, called relational aggression, in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.
From the Ophelia Project
Learn more about Sarah Coyne: http://fhssfaculty.byu.edu/Pages/smcoyne.aspx
Learn more about Sarah Coyne’s research:
Additional links to be posted with the news release
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Bullying is occurring at alarming rates in the U.S. and the long-term effects of being bullied can be severe. Unfortunately, many adults are not aware that bullying is occurring with their child or their students.
According to a National Center for Education Statistics document, the definition of bullying includes a variety of actions, such as, “being made fun of; being the subject of rumors; being threatened with harm; being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; being pressured into doing things he/she did not want to do; being excluded; and having property destroyed on purpose,” (Dinkes, Kemp, & Baum, 2009, p. 40).
A large study conducted in 2007, comprised of 12- to 18-year old students in the U.S., revealed many eye-opening statistics. Based on these students’ self-reports:
- 32% had been bullied at school during the school year
- 63% had been bullied once or twice during the school year
- 21% had been bullied once or twice a month
- 10% were bullied once or twice a week
- 7 % had been bullied almost daily
- 79% were bullied inside a school
- 4% had been cyber-bullied
- 21% had been made fun of
- 18% were subjects of rumors
- 6% were threatened with harm
- 5% were purposefully excluded from activities
- 4 % said that someone tried to make them do things they did not want to do
- 4% had their own property destroyed on purpose by someone else
- 11% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on, and 19% of these students were injured as a result of being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on.
Interestingly, only 36% of students who were bullied notified a teacher or another adult at school about the event(s). Other longitudinal research concerning bullying shows that being bullied is related to poor mental health and self harm. Individuals who are bullied experience severe emotional consequences such as anxiety, passivity, academic problems, social deficits, and low self-esteem.
Based on these studies, it is clear that many children, ages 12-to-18 years, are being bullied and the majority of them are not telling adults about their experiences. To learn how you can help a child, read the information contained in subsequent posts within this blog. Bullying, regardless of where or how it occurs, has long-term consequences and must be stopped immediately.