Sunday, February 14, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Friendship and Bullying

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series - where I speak to all topics gifted and how they relate to your child's well-being.  Please click on the tab above if you want to discover more about the Series and its topics.

This week we conclude our exploration of Friendship, which has grown exponentially since it began in January.  Today is week 5 - Bullying.  Week 1 gave you resources to helpweek 2 talked about where to find friends and week 3 talked about making friends.  We explored Developing Close Friendships in week 4.

I believe gifted children are particularly prone to bullying.  They don't fit the mold.  They often can't read social cues.  They have an advanced sense of justice that may lead other kids to dislike them.  Watching for bullying signs and equipping them with the tools to handle it is one of the most important things you can do to for your gifted child.

Michele Borba, in her book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, has a sentence under each topic called the "change to parent for."  With bullying, she says the change to parent for is "[y]our child learns to defend himself, feels safer and more confident, and is less likely to be targeted by a bully."  Page 323.

Barbara Coloroso wrote an excellent book called The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander.  Colorosa identifies three types of bullying:  verbal, physical and relational.  Page 15.

"Verbal bullying can take the form of name-calling, taunting, belittling, cruel criticism, personal defamation, racist slurs, and sexual remarks."  Page 16.

"Physical bullying is the most visible and therefore the most readily identifiable form of bullying," but accounts for less than 1/3 of incidents reported by children.  Page 16. 

Relational bullying is diffcult to detect, and "is the systematic diminishment of a bullied child's sense of self through ignoring, isolating, excluding, or shunning."  Page 17.   "Shunning. . . joined with rumor . . . is a forceful bullying tool [as] both are unseen and hard to detect."  Id.

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, Colorosa's book lists some Do's and Don'ts: (found on pages 132-134):

  1. Express your support in words like "I am here for you," I believe in you," "you are not alone."
  2. Assure your child it is not her fault.
  3. Help him learn the things he can do.
  4. Report it to a school personnel.
  1. Minimize, rationalize or explain away the bully's behavior.
  2. Rush to solve the problem.
  3. Tell your child to avoid the bully.
  4. Tell your child to fight back.
  5. Confront the bully or bully's parents alone
Colorosa also lists antidotes to bullying:
  1. Strong sense of self.
  2. Being a friend.
  3. Having at least one friend who is there for you.
  4. Being able to successfully get into a group.
pg 137.

Of these antidotes, I've written about #2 and #3 with this friendship series.  With #1, you might find some ideas here at one of my Super Sunday posts.  My posts on perfectionism, for example, talk about internal dialogue and how that contributes to your sense of self.  #4 has an entire chapter devoted to it in Good Friends are Hard to Find.  Well worth the buy.

We have not seen bullying at our house - yet.  I think Oldest will be at high risk for certain bullying - especially relational.  She just doesn't have that social savvy some kids have (which I've talked about before as well).

Truthfully, friendship and its nuances could be its own blog and we could spend many more weeks discussing friendship difficulties.  But I'm ready to put it to bed for now, reserving the right to come back to it at a later date.  Unless YOU have a specific question or topic about friendship you'd like to see.  Let me know.

Disclaimer #1 - I have no agreements, sponsoships or income from any of the authors mentioned thus far in my series.  These are just great books, well worth the investment, that I want to share with you.

Disclaimer #2 - I've slept approximately 5 (broken) hours the last two nights.  This post is not my best work.  Sorry.  Sleep will return (it better) soon, as will the caliber of my Super Sunday Series.

So how about you?  I think it's no surprise that I'm a worrier when it comes to parenting.  Are you?  Do issues like bullying keep you up at night?  Have you had experience with it yet?  How did you handle it if so?

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