Tag: bullying

The Go To Go Girl!: Saying the RIGHT Thing or Saying SOMEthing

“Wow! That was sexist.”

The words flew out of mouth like they were speeding through a yellow light. They surprised me as a heard them. The tone in my voice made me cringe. It was a little condescending and a lot aggressive. For days after I hurled those words at someone, I could not stop replaying the interaction in my mind or decide how I felt about it. So I reached out to my community for their perspective. I told them the whole story, which went something like this…

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Want to End Bullying in Our Communities? Support the Arts.

Go Girls! from Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, CA create their "Tower of Oops," an interactive art piece that reinforces the message that making mistakes is a crucial part of learning.
Go Girls! from Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, CA create their “Tower of Oops,” an interactive art piece that reinforces the message that making mistakes is a crucial part of learning.

As I write this post, the final post for Bullying Awareness Month, I am seated on the floor of a Chicago hotel where I am attending the National Guild for Community Arts Education National Conference.  I am here representing other teaching artists like myself and our unique role in educating and empowering children and other folks in our schools and communities.  As a sit here among my peers and colleagues, I am reminded and re-energized about the magic and power of the arts in teaching all of our kids the essential social/emotional skills they need to respect themselves, command respect, and respect others.

We know from both research and experience the incredible benefits of engaging kids through the arts.  It helps not only their social/emotional development but their cognitive development.  When kids make art they build their resiliency and grit which leads to an increased sense of self-worth and belief in their own capacities to make a difference in their own lives and in the world.  Making art in collaboration with other kids allows for students to cross racial/ethnic/socio-economic barriers, helps build empathy, communication, and conflict resolution skills.  When all of these things are happening, we are creating communities full of kids who are supported to use their powers in creative instead of constructive ways.  When kids feel this good about themselves and each other, bullying goes away.

Check out this video from the Edutopia website:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPbKUF2zbyw&w=420&h=315]

Please, continue to advocate for and insist on quality arts programming for your kids in their schools and in your communities.  If your kid is fortunate enough to have access to lots of arts already, ask yourself, “What can I do to help make these kinds of experiences available for other children?”  If you are not sure what to do, keep in touch with me.  We’ll talk.

This post is #25 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

Create a Culture of Peace

Any good story, good drama, is driven by what the main character wants.  Building a story around what a character doesn’t want, is pretty boring.  Just imagine it.  What if, instead of working so hard to find the Wizard because she so desperately wanted to get back to Kansas, Dorothy’s whole journey was based on simply not wanting to get caught by the witch.  It’s just not how adventures are driven forward.  I believe that, if we want to change something, we must frame our actions in the positive.  We must ask ourselves, “what do I WANT?” and focus on that want, not on the opposite.  There is a great post on Dr. Christine Carter’s blog called “Teach Peace Instead of Anti-Bullying.”  I love this title.  This is what it’s all about.  We spend so much time talking about eliminating bullying – the thing we don’t want – when we should be talking about what we actually want – more peaceful homes, schools, and communities.

Naomi Drew is an author, speaker, and leading thinker on this topic.  In her book, Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids, she lays out the 17 Keys to Peaceful Parenting.  I adore these.  What do you think?

Key #1:Peace begins with me.
Key #2:I have made my home a place of kind words.
Key #3:I catch my children in the act of positive behaviors and praise them immediately, specifically and sincerely.
Key #4:I spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day with each child, listening, interacting, and giving my full attention.
Key #5:I am clear on the standards of behavior I expect of my children. I honor those standards and expect my children to do the same.
Key #6:I provide my children with empty spaces of time during which they can just “be kids.”
Key #7:I hold regularly scheduled family meetings where my children have a voice in the workings of our family.
Key #8:I have set a foundation for peacefulness in our home by creating with my children “Guidelines for a Peaceful family.”
Key #9:I always remember that I am the parent and deserve to be listened to.
Key #10:I have fair, reasonable consequences for negative behaviors which I only use when necessary.
Key #ll:I listen with all my heart to what my children have to say, and teach them to be good listeners for others.
Key #12:I teach my children how to handle anger in nondestructive ways and I model this consistently.
Key #13:I resolve conflicts peacefully and teach my children to do the same.
Key #14:I find ways to help my children succeed.
Key #15:All my actions are guided by love, compassion, fairness, respect, and integrity. I nurture these attributes in my children.
Key #16:I live my commitment to peaceful parenting; my commitment guides all my actions.
Key#17:I remember daily that we each have an impact on the world around us and I teach this to my children.

This post is #24 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

Pass Out Love on Halloween

If you are lucky, you are going to have dozens of kids come to your home tomorrow night in hopes that you will give them a treat.  This is a huge opportunity!  In addition to candy (yes, please don’t forget the candy), why not show them how much you care about them and their safety.  Eliminating bullying in our communities will happen when all children feel safe, valued, and respected by caring, empathetic adults.  This Halloween, you can work with your daughter to make and spread care and empathy throughout your community using art.

HalloweenHandoutUSAThe website hisnamewasteven.org is dedicated to providing anti-bullying resources.  The have created a poster (right) that you can access from their site that is designed to be passed out on Halloween to provide kids with practical information about where they can turn if they are victims of bullying.  Get that poster here.

The practical support is important, but so is emotional support.  Tonight, grab your art supplies and spend some time with your daughter creating your own original posters featuring inspirational words and/or images that show trick-or-treaters you care about them.  The act of making the posters alone will give you another opportunity to connect with your daughter about empathy.  While you are creating, ask her:

  • “What do you imagine it feel likes for people to be bullied?
  • How do you think kids will feel when they get these beautiful posters we have made?”

Giving away your creations will feel great for both of you.  It will be fun for the kids who get them.  Plus, you never know what difference your words of encouragement  will make in someone’s life.

Need inspiration yourself?  Pinterest is a great source of inspirational quotes you might want to use in your posters.  Check out our Inspiring Quotes board.  Also, check out this one and this one.

Cyberbullying: 3 Resources you must have

Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.”

– Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media

cyberbullyingYesterday’s post featured a segment on The Today Show that posed the question “Are mean girls getting meaner?”.  They talked a lot about how much easier it is for “mean girls” today because they are wielding the tools of social media.  Cyberbullying is real and, unfortunately, quite dangerous.  Wikipedia defines cyberbullying as the “use of the Internet and related technologies to harm or harass other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.”

As our girls are learning to make and build relationships online, they will certainly make some mistakes.  It’s our job as adults to help them learn from these mistakes and keep them safe from significant harm.  Here are 3 resources you should take a look at right away:

1. 11 Facts about Cyberbullying on DoSomething.org – This problem may be worse than you thought.  It’s important for you to know the information.  I was particularly moved by #8 – “Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.”  This fact saddens me but does not shock me.  We have to work together to teach our girls how to use their incredible magic and power of relationships for good…rather than for evil.

2. Cyberbulling Prevention Tips for Kids on CommonSenseMedia.org – I am a huge fan of Common Sense Media.  You can (and should) spend hours on their site as it is chock full of resources to help you and your kids navigate the huge world of media and technology.

3. How to Prevent and Stop Cyberbulling from Kidpower – You know how much we love Kidpower.  This article from the experts in child safety is very practical and gives you a step-by-step in how to address this delicate issue with your kids.

This post is #22 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

I’m not a Mean Girl. I’m not a Good Girl. I am a Go Girl!

We just love to hate “mean girls”, don’t we.  Okay then, let’s go there.  Let’s talk about “mean girls”.  Warning: This blog post features curse words and feminism.  This blog post tells the truth.

Check out the 7 minute video from The Today Show from their feature “Are mean girls getting meaner?”  And please do watch the whole thing.

Labels are useful for canned goods.  However, they suck for people….especially our kids.  If I label myself or am labeled as a “mean girl,” then, everything I do will be seen in the context of my label.  “OMG, I can’t believe she was so nice to me.  Usually, she is a total mean girl.” OR “I am not at all surprised she said that about you.  She is such a mean girl.”  Once we label our kids, they start to believe these labels.  A canned good may be able to promise consistency – all of the ingredients you read on that label will most likely be in the can.  People, for better and for worse, are not that consistent.  No one can be nice or mean or anything else all the time.  This is what makes us human.

Don’t we just love to hate “mean girls?”

The experts in this video share a lot of smart stuff about how to support our daughters with bullying.  However, what bothers and frightens me so much is how much this segment reinforces our “love to hate mean girls” culture.  It pits the “good girls” against the “mean girls” so dramatically.  Just look at the 4 theater girls (another label) they interviewed who are doing the anti-bullying play.  These girls are talking about the “mean girls” they know as if they are completely different from themselves.  They are talking about “mean girls” as if they themselves have never used their own power in inappropriate ways, never made a bad choice to appeal to their friends and peers. And all of this is reinforced later in the clip when Maria Shriver asks the experts “how do we give the power to the good girls?” Yikes.  What does that mean?

We have a saying at Go Girls!…it’s the chorus to our Go Girls! theme song…

I’m not a mean girl.  I’m not a good girl.  I am a Go Girl!”

I can guarantee you that all 4 of those “theater girls” – the ones that were made to appear so “good” – have all struggled with their own power.  I can guarantee you they have said unkind words to and/or about another girl.  They may not be guilty of bullying per se, but I know that every kid has behaved in ways that have lacked empathy, hurt someone else’s feelings, and been down right mean.  Just like every kid has made choices that are loving, kind, and courageous.

Our girls are still a little young for us to go into a deep exploration of misogyny (the hatred of women and girls) but we can bring it up here for a second, can’t we?  No matter how many advances women and girls have made in American culture, we still live in a society that dislikes us.  We are bombarded everyday with messages about how we should look and act, what we should say and not say.  The messages aim to remind us that we are not in charge…not even of ourselves.  So, we receive the messages loud and clear that we have 2 choices.  We can be a “good girl” and do everything right (meaning, never do anything wrong) OR we can be the “mean girl,” the “bitch, ” the “slut” or whatever you want to call it.  And, given this incredibly damaging and limiting choice, we are left only with the option to turn against each other and ourselves.  This is when bullying happens.  They is when eating disorders happen.  This is when suicide happens.

The first lines of our theme song are:

I am proud, so proud, proud of me.  I am exactly the kind of girl that I want to be.”

The number one place these experts are 100% right is when they talk about how important it is to validate and support our girls to “be themselves.” We must get rid of the labels and make space for our girls to express every part of themselves.  When I think about tips for Bullying Awareness Month, here is what I want all of us to walk away from this month with: LET’S STOP CALLING GIRLS “MEAN GIRLS” and STOP CALLING GIRLS “GOOD GIRLS”.  We have to insist on more choices for girls in our society.  We have to insist on and build pathways for girls to connect to each other and themselves.  We have to make it okay for girls to be able to make mistakes and know that they can make a different choice tomorrow in how they treat people.  If we can collectively throw out the terms “mean girl” and “good girl” we can do the radical act of dismantling our misogynist society and build a world that values and can benefit from the gifts girls bring.

This post is #21 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

Tired of Talking about Bullying? Have a Movie Night Instead

pretty in pinkWhen was the last time you saw Pretty in Pink? I loved it when I was 13. I thought Molly Ringwald’s character, Andi, was so cool and creative how she made her own hip clothes. Think about what we learned from Andi:

  • You can be anything you want to be.
  • Take what life gives you and use it to create new things that work for you.
  • Stand up for yourself and your friends.
  • Just because something has always been one way, doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever.

Plus, it has that classic plot where 2 kids from different sides of the tracks break through all the social conventions to be together.  To fall in love.  How much better does it get than that?  Pretty in Pink and other films we loved as kids focused a lot of the bully, the bullied, and the bystander.  There were a lot of examples of girls and boys standing up to the powerful forces that were trying to cut them down and learning how to say and do just the right thing to bring that bully to his or her knees.  And, of course!  Because these are the themes that our girls (and boys) really care about.  They are practicing each and every day to use their power and it feels good to watch someone on screen act strong and powerful in the face of bullying.

What movies did you love as a kid/youth that you want to share with your own kids? All this talk about bullying has been heavy.  Let’s life our spirits a bit and, tonight, have a movie night!  Grab the popcorn, snuggle up, and take a Time Machine back to 1985.  The most important thing is to have fun but you can also have some casual conversation with your girls:

  • Did you like the movie?  What did you like about it?
  • What I liked about this movie when I was a kid was…
  • I can’t believe how mean those kids were to each other.  Do you ever notice kids being that mean at your school?  Tell me about that?
  • What would you do if you were in her/his shoes?
  • If you could make a movie about the kids at your school, what would it be about?

Just some other fun movie ideas…these are the ones I liked anyway…

The Breakfast Club- Another Molly Ringwald/John Hughes classic.  Still a great exploration of how kids express their power in various social cliques.
The Breakfast Club– Another Molly Ringwald/John Hughes classic. Still a great exploration of how kids express their power in various social cliques.
Back to the Future - Talk about empowering!  The kid had to go back in time to stop a bully so that we could save his own life.  I mean...c'mon!  What if it had been a girl as Marty McFly?!?
Back to the Future – Talk about empowering! The kid had to go back in time to stop a bully so that we could save his own life. I mean…c’mon! What if it had been a girl as Marty McFly?!?
A Christmas Story - Everyone's holiday favorite.  He stands up to the bully by punching the heck outta him.  Hmmm?  Perhaps your daughter would have an alternative plan.  Ask her!
A Christmas Story – Everyone’s holiday favorite. He stands up to the bully by punching the heck outta him. Hmmm? Perhaps your daughter would have an alternative plan. Ask her!

 

This post is #20 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

 

The Practice Saying I’m Sorry

Once a problem arises in a relationship, the best way to begin the process of healing the rupture and rebuilding trust is for the offending party to offer an authentic apology. 

On the other side of forgiveness is saying “I’m Sorry” –  Taking responsibility for something that you have done that has hurt, upset, or inconvenienced someone else.  Saying sorry is both over and underused, I have noticed.  And both the over and under use of “I’m so sorry” are connected to a person ultimately not being able to take responsibility for her actions.

I’ll clarify.  Clearly, you can see why the under use is a problem.  Some people go through life with little regard for the fact that they are sharing the planet with others.  They cut people off.  They say mean things.  They generally disregard others as human.  And, because they are not seeing the other people as people, they feel no need to be remorseful.  No need to stand up and take responsibility for the fact that they have hurt another human.  So, they don’t say sorry.

There are other people who say sorry a lot.   they say sorry because every time they don’t return your phone call and every time they under-deliver “so sorry! just wasn’t able to get to it.”  As a recovering over-user, I see that this is not a good thing because, by relying on “I’m sorry” to get out of trouble (again), I can avoid the hard work of taking responsibility for my words and actions and changing my behavior.

And THEN, there is “the girl sorry.”  The sorry that is not actually attached to having done anything wrong.  The “I’m sorry” we want to say first thing we open our mouths…just in case we might do or say the “wrong thing” in the “wrong way” at “the wrong time.”  It’s the sorry that is not actually apologizing for our actions.  It’s the sorry that is apologizing for our whole existence.

We really have to learn how to get better at saying I’m sorry.

According to the science of apology, there are 3 components of a sincere and meaningful apology…this scenario my resonate for you…

  • Expressions of empathy – I see that you are angry because of what I have done.  You are frustrated because I put you in a tricky position by not giving you what you needed on time.
  • Offers of compensation – I promise I will get you what you need right away.  And, I will make sure to honor your deadlines in the future.
  • Acknowledgement of the violation of social norms – I know I said I would have this to you by Friday and I broke that promise.  I am so sorry for that.

Tesla Look at MeWe are doing a lot of work with the proper and appropriate use of “I’m sorry.” I am doing my best to coach girls to notice when they interrupt someone or accidentally bump into another kid or use language that might hurt another’s feelings.  We actually practice talking and listening without interrupting.  We actually practice walking around a small space without bumping into each other (all the while I am side coaching, “Notice other people around you.  You are not the only one in this space.”) We actually practice asking questions and sharing our ideas and opinions in ways that do not judge or condemn other people.  This is the only way that kids can understand what they are saying sorry for when they make a mistake.

Here’s a scenario that might resonate for your daughter:

  • Expressions of empathy – I said some really mean things to you.  You must be feeling sad and probably embarrassed.
  • Offers of compensation – I promise to never call you that again.
  • Acknowledgement of the violation of social norms – I know that what I said was wrong.  They were mean words.  They aren’t even allowed at school.  Plus, they hurt your feelings.  I am very sorry.

We also remind girls over and over again to reserve their sorrys for when they actually make a mistake that hurts someone.

Me: Hey Go Girl!  Will you please bring me that piece of paper?
Go Girl!: Here you go.
Me: Actually, I meant the other piece of paper.  The one with the lines.
Go Girl!: Oh!  Sorry!
Me:  Please don’t say you’re sorry.  You only need to apologize when you do something that hurts someone.  Do you think you hurt me?
Go Girl!: No.
Me: Do you think you hurt my paper?
Go Girl! (giggles): No.
Me: Do you think you hurt my dog?
Go Girl! (even more giggles): No.
Me:  Then don’t apologize.  Got it?
Go Girl!: Got it.

This post is #19 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.

 

Accessing the Power of Forgiveness

Did you ever see  the Oprah about the young man who attempts to rob a check cashing store in Indiana but winds up praying with his victim and then turning himself in?  This is an incredible story.  It is all about second chances and personal responsibility.  It is all about how making one (or 2 or 267) mistakes does not mean that you cannot get up the next morning and make another choice.  It’s all about the power of forgiveness in the personal development of both the forgiver as well as the forgiven.

I once went to seminar by Dr. Fredric Luskin, a leading researcher and practitioner on forgiveness.  Before I went, I honestly didn’t know that I had a lot to learn about forgiveness.  But I did.  I do.  We all do.  Luskin said that the practice (yes, it’s ongoing) of forgiveness is learning how to bounce back when things don’t go the way you wanted them to.  How many times does this happen to us…that things don’t turn out the way we hoped?  How often does it happen in our girls’ lives?  What can we learn for ourselves and our children if we really practice forgiveness regularly?  What can we learn if we stop blaming others or ourselves for all the things that happened before and ask ourselves instead, “What am I going to do about it now?”

The woman, the victim in the above-mentioned news story was on Oprah and had the opportunity to look the young man who had put a gun to her head in his crying and remorseful eyes and say, “I forgive you.  You know that you did wrong and that you have to pay the price for that.  But, don’t let what you did get in the way of what you can do in the future.”  If she can do that, how can we support our girls to forgive the folks who do them wrong in their lives?

Luskin breaks it down into 9 Steps.  It’s a great list.  Print it out and put it on your fridge.  Here’s a bit more from Fred Luskin:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Yxs1C_iQo&w=420&h=315]

This post is #18 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.