I think most of us have been there.
In a situation where someone was stronger, more influential or simply louder…AND not nice. This situation can take on various degrees of severity and even into abuse.
It is a terrible thing to be there. Helpless, alone and unable to turn the situation to your advantage.
But what if the aggressor is your child?
This can bring double pain – empathy for the one who is being bullied and desperation about how to help your child.
As in many parenting situations, one of the first things to do is take a deep breath and step back for some perspective. Make a plan that you take action on when the environment is not heated – when ears can listen and hearts are open.
Even if your child is not acting out against others, many of these simple ideas can help increase empathy, promote friendship and even help them step in to be a friend to someone who needs them.
This topic has been inspired by the new book, Pottymouth and Stoopid by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Oh! And watch below for your chance to win an amazing prize package…
Here are some things that can assist a child in learning more about how their actions affect others:
1. Role play: Turn your living room into a stage and the family into actors! Suggest a script that includes different scenarios of someone being a bully. Switch parts and change the players so that the bully becomes the bullied and vice versa. Talk about reactions and how body language, speech patterns, emotions and reactions change based on which part is played.
2. Friend audit: Talk to your child about how their friends treat other people. Make them aware that they get to choose their friends and a friend that makes them uncomfortable with the way they treat others, may not be their friend. Approach it from the positive position of how they are in control of the people they surround themselves with! This is a lesson that even many adults are learning.
3. Golden rule: Point out good in others. Celebrate when someone does something that treats others the way they would want to be treated. Watch yourself in frustrating situations and refrain from lashing out at that cashier that took 45 minutes to check out your 5 item order, the waiter that overcharged you, or that driver that needs to go back for some remedial driving training. Your kids are watching and use that time to talk through some of these stresses, “I am frustrated with that driver that just turned in front of me and feel like honking, but I am wondering if something might be distracting them that would cause this action.” This can lead to a discussion on what might be going on in someone else’s life and bringing empathy to the situation instead of anger.
4. Funny vs. mean: Play a joke game at the dinner table or in the car (my kids always talk better in the car!) called Is this Funny or Mean? Each participant tells a joke or an insult and the others decide whether it is funny or mean. This can be a ton of fun because there is a lot of grey area! Also, it is interesting to hear each person’s perspective on how they heard the “joke”. You and your child might be surprised at some of the reactions.
5. Count to 5: Teach your child a simple internal count to 5 before they react in a emotional situation. Many times the root of aggressive behavior against someone else that may be exhibited as bullying is feeling powerless. Even just a count of 5 can get thoughts together before taking an action that isn’t thought-out. It is so easy to simply talk without thinking and this is just not a good plan!
6. Read together: Pottymouth and Stoopid is the perfect evening family read! The story is fun and can bring up many of the topics that surround the issue of bullying. I can’t tell you how many quiet conversations and thought journeys that this book has inspired. It is also a book that is incredibly approachable by kids. You can hand them the book and I promise the casual style and funny illustrations will draw them in.
What is Pottymouth and Stoopid about?
David and his best friend Michael were tagged with awful nicknames way back in preschool when everyone did silly things. Fast-forward to seventh grade: “Pottymouth” and “Stoopid” are still stuck with the names—and everyone in school, including the teachers and their principal, believe the labels are true. So how do they go about changing everyone’s minds? By turning their misery into megastardom on TV, of course! Follow their roller-coaster journey from the ultimate losers to the biggest winners, with more than 100 hilarious illustrations in this signature Patterson format. And this important story delivers more than just laughs—it shows that the worst bullying doesn’t have to be physical . . . and that things will get better.
Other people are LOVING this book! Here are some thoughts from leaders in this area:
“This book is light and mighty. Funny and honest. And, in the words of one kid (who lives in my house), ‘It’s like he wrote about the people in my school (minus the limos and flufferknuckles, of course). Pottymouth and Stoopid is really, really good.’” —Kwame Alexander, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Crossover
“I have one word for this book: SUPERWONDERRIFIC.” —Jerry Spinelli, Newbery Medal-winning author of Maniac Magee and Stargirl
“A funny, poignant tale of two quirky boys who suffer from years of endless teasing. Pottymouth and Stoopid triumph in the end, but only after reminding us how painful bullying can be. Boys are going to love this story.” — Dr. Michael Thompson, New York Times bestselling co-author of Raising Cain
“Silly, insightful, and triumphant, POTTYMOUTH AND STOOPID proves that awesome humor goes hand-in-hand with making the world a better place. Pottymouth and Stoopid are full of heart and brain and joy. You’ll remember this book and these boys for a long time.” – Carrie Jones, New York Times bestelling author of the Need series, Time Stoppers, and co-editor of Dear Bully