Bullying. There is no magic bullet to deal with it or prevent it.
As you may recall, NJ has implemented more stringent laws to deal with those who bully and to rally those in the schools to be more vigilant and proactive (I spoke about this on Fox news here). As you can imagine, that doesn’t mean that when I speak about bullying to the parents of Morris County, NJ in November, I will say that dealing with bullying is in the hands of the educators. It can’t be. When our children are part of the bullying triangle (bully, victim, bystanders), we need a home-school-community partnership just as we need a parent-educator-student partnership. In other words, it’s everyone’s issue. It has to be.
There are some things we can do. Today let’s discuss one. Social goals. Social goals are what we hope to achieve when we are among others, in this case, peers. In a recent study, researchers found that of the 370+ children they surveyed, social goals fell into three categories; (1) Acquiring social skills to nurture high quality friendships; (2) Acquiring a positive reputation to achieve prestige and “cool” friends; and (3) Avoiding negative reputation and negative judgments to circumvent being named a “loser.”
Now here’s the significant part:
- Those in the first category (positive friendships), were more likely to more successfully manage their emotions, provide thoughtful and constructive responses to bullying, and learn valuable lessons from the situation. These students were the most successful in their responses to the bullying.
- Those who were seeking to be “cool” were more likely to disengage or deny the situation had happened rather than trying to solve the problem. This group was also more likely to seek revenge or retaliate against the bullies.
- And finally, the third group (avoiding being marked a “loser”), were most likely to ignore the bullies and pacify the bullies in an effort to deflect attention in themselves.
“Our findings suggest that by working to develop social competence and relationships, children orient themselves toward efforts to solve problems with their peers, handle their emotions, and think positively when relationships go awry,” according to Karen D. Rudolph, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who led the study
How are you helping the children in your lives to set positive social goals? Here are some preliminary questions that can spark some conversation to get you started:
(1) What kind of friend do you want to be? Name 5 qualities.
(2) What kind of friend do you want to be friends with? Name 5 qualities.
(3) What can you do when you realize a friend doesn’t have the friendship qualities you just named?
(4) Who among your friends has the qualities you mentioned and how does s/he show them?
(5) What would you do if you had the choice to be with friends who had the qualities you mentioned or friends who were thought of as the coolest in your grade?
Have you begun these discussions in your home? We would love to hear some of the responses you got to these types of questions! Share your success stories with regard to how you are helping your children promote positive friendships in their lives and prevent and cope with bullying here or on my Facebook fan page!