You know your child or teen is being bullied, or is bullying. You know that school is a scary place for them.
I want you to ask yourself: "What has been holding me back from making a change?"
Take a moment and search for an answer.
Has the school promised they will handle things?
Did the same thing happen to you and it's hard to watch your child go through it too?
Is your child pleading with you to say nothing?
Are you afraid of doing something that will make things worse?
Have you tried many things and nothing is working?
I know you have already been through a lot - your heart has broken so many times about this issue... Can you find it in yourself to reach out to me and see if I might be able to help you and your child?
Booking a 20 minute Discovery Call will cost you nothing more than your time. It is free, and there is no need to hire me after. I'll give you a chance to share what you've been going through and then I can explain how I might help.
Then, you decide if I'm a good fit for your family or not.
Many things can get in the way of reaching out for help - I get it. But the truth: your child is hurting, and it needs to end.
Send me a quick message so we can find out if I might be the answer to your problem.
Whether flight PS752 was shot down by mistake, or on purpose, we need to take note of the fact that when war happens, senseless deaths like these occur.
For those of us in Canada, this war hits close to our home. But, for citizens of war torn countries, innocent citizens are killed daily.
How does this relate to bullying? Choosing violence to end conflict results in unnecessary pain. Whether that violence is missiles or using words, the creation of pain only creates more pain.
It doesn't end there. That violence can create more violence, or, it silences the other side.
Either way keeps a cycle of aggression and victimization alive and well.
It is not the solution, as Michael Franti so eloquently says: "you can't bomb the world to peace".
Peace comes through dialogue, through compassion, through finding the root of problems and looking for creative solutions.
To all of the families and friends who are struggling with these senseless deaths - my heart is with you.
To all the families and friends who are struggling with cycles of bullying - my heart is with you too.
Nervous to call me?
Fair. Bullying can be terrifying - and many people are frozen in fear - scared to make the wrong next step. You don't want to be hurt more than you already are.
I get it.
You might be asking "What is an anti-bullying specialist anyways?" Most people have never heard of this term.
I am a teacher by trade, and have moonlighted as a conflict coach through my career - I'm now doing this work full time. I help kids and adults step out of cycles of bullying, and, I can work with both the person bullying and the person being bullied. I also help people who are struggling just generally with conflict - sometimes it's a whole family, and sometimes just an individual.
My goal is to help you find new ways to handle conflict. What I have found after over 10 years of doing this work is that most people struggle to find a strong and kind voice... Once we find YOUR unique voice, your issues will start to unravel, until they to dissolve away.
A session can look just like this one. If you are a parent calling for your child, I often include the parents in the sessions. If you are an adult, you are always welcome to bring a supportive friend or family member if that makes you feel more comfortable. If you aren't local, we meet virtually on a computer.
I'll want to learn more about your situation, teach you some things, and then spend some time problem solving.
Booking a session can be scary - but, the outcome can be transformative.
Imagine your bullying ending... How might life change for you? Take a moment to FEEL how life could be different.
Use THOSE feelings to find the courage to pick up the phone.
An easy first step might be to book a Discovery Call. We'd have 15 or 20 minutes together to chat. I'd want to learn a little more about you and share with you my methods. The ultimate goal is to give you enough information to decide whether I might be a good fit for you or your child.
Does this help?
If it does, send me an email and we can talk about booking a Discovery Call: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to chatting soon!
What does this look like when it comes to bullying?
It looks like developing confidence, and love, and compassion, and boundaries.
It looks like parents, teachers, and other caregivers teaching and modelling conflict management skills to their young people.
It looks like someone bullying, and their targets choosing not to pick up the pain that they are trying to give away.
It looks like a classroom, a school, a workplace, and a family that does not give power to people hurting others.
It looks like adults and friends, parents and teachers, managers and administrators looking beyond the behaviour and trying to find the root of the problem.
It looks like putting our judgements aside and choosing to find the reason for someone's aggression. It could be pain that someone is feeling - or, a conflict management tool that they are lacking. It looks like healing that pain.
We don't have to play this bullying game. There are "outs" all around us. It's up to us to pick them up and believe that they can work.
Only THEN will we no longer be participating.
My family is in a stormy season.
I have almost 2 year old twins and a 4 year old.
My children are big balls of emotions. Many points in the day feel like I am standing in the eye of a storm while three unreasonable little creatures whip around me.: crying, screaming, falling…
And these are, undoubtedly, the hardest part of being a mom for me.
Do I lose my temper? Sometimes, for sure. How could I not?
Do I try really really hard not to - YES. And I’ll tell you why.
If we want to teach our children to not bully and not to be bullied, we have to model what it is to POWER WITH people, ESPECIALLY during the hard moments.
When we “power with” in parenting, we observe our kids feelings, we sit with them as they rage. We empathize, we keep our boundries, but, we’re kind about it. “Ah, you really wanted more TV. And mum said no. That must feel so hard for you.”
And then, when the storm has passed, we problem solve. We look to see if there are environmental factors creating the emotions (hungry, tired, overstimulated). We explore different schedules, rhythms, behaviour management techniques to help them transition more smoothly.
For older kids, “power with” looks like having family discussions about rules where all members get to share their thoughts and feelings. It looks like letting them make mistakes and talking them through their disappointments. It looks like guiding our children rather than forcing them to comply.
The benefit of this hard work? We create kids who can:
THESE are the kind of responses that stop bullying. Most importantly, these are the responses that lead to creating a more just and kind world.
This book - The Watermelon Shield - is gold! If you are looking for something to help those targeted by bullies, this is the book for you!
It was sent to me by the authors - Rose and Hope McCallum, and is their real-life story of solving their bullying problem and finding peace again.
It does an excellent job of teaching how to stay strong and kind... And gives a creative way for our kids to shield themselves from all hurtful comments.
When Hope was 8, she decided to write this book so that other kids could ward of bullies too.
My 4 year old has been reading it on repeat for 2 weeks - but it would be an effective book to read for kids up to grade 7.
The little peanut reading in the photo is my 2 year old daughter. Although she and her twin brother didn't understand the concept, the images are so realistic that they both have been pointing out the characters emotions (which is excellent to develop their compassion!)
You can get a copy at: www.thewatermelonshield.ca
Remember with kindness also needs to come strength.
Some of us (ahem, finger pointing towards myself) believe that true kindness comes at the expense of our own needs.
But, we know how this plays out: building resentments, exhaustion, compassion fatigue.
True kindness is boundaried, and honest, and gentle with all those around us (and it HAS to include ourselves too!)
So, get out there, be a little kinder than you were yesterday. And, if that means looping yourself into some kindness, throw in some self-care or self-compassion so that you receive too!
This is what strong and kind looks like.
Why does this matter? Feeling "strong and kind" is what my clients embody to stop cycles of bullying and abuse in their lives.
Abuse and bullying obviously makes us scared. When afraid - many people fight, or flight... But, there is a Third Way. People who can stand tall and act in a compassionate manner shows strength. And when we're strong, abusive relationships crumble away.
Why? When we are boundaried and still compassionate, we give nothing to someone who is bullying. The "fix" of power they feel when we show fear doesn't exist any more. So, the bullying ends.
The amazing news is that from this perspective - any person can get out toxic relationships because at our core, we are ALL strong and kind.
If you are stuck - try finding that side of yourself. You might have a way to get there - through physical activity, meditation, prayer, time in nature, by doing some form of art...
When you find it - then, take a pen and paper and brainstorm some actions or responses you could choose when that person harms you. Don't filter yourself.
You'll know when you have the answer. You will laugh, or sit up taller, and, generally feel great!
Double check that your action isn't weak or vindictive in any way... These responses continue the abuse. You want the answer to be STRONG and KIND.
Then, practice! Make sure that your answer flows easily!
And, if you try all of this and can't get there - reach out to me. This is the process that I use to help people step out of bullying cycles, and would love to help you feel calmer, happier, and more in control of your life!
Reaching out for help can feel so hard. Many people who are bullied, or who are bullying, are frozen in fear. I know that you are likely terrified that doing ANYTHING will make the situation worse. The good news about my methods? Unless I'm worried about your safety, YOU are 100% in charge. You brainstorm solutions. You pick the right one. We then create a detailed plan - and only you decide if we will take any actions.
The goal? To help you find you again... I want you to be strong, but I want you to remain deeply kind. Why? Because this will not only end your bullying abuse, but, help you return back to yourself again.
Maybe a safe first step might be to send me a message to set up a quick Discovery Call. We'll chat for 20 minutes - you can learn more about me, and I can learn a bit more about you. Then, you can take some time to decide whether it's time to act.
I'm here for you!
I don't hide my sadness from my children.
Can that make them feel uncomfortable? Sure. It is off-putting when anyone is emoting - especially parents who are often stable and calm.
To help them through this discomfort, my husband and I teach them how to soothe someone who is feeling low.
The messaging is clear "it's not your job to make mummy feel better, but, we can soothe her while her emotions make their way through". We then ask them if they would like to give a hug, have a snuggle, or give a soft a blanket or stuffy.
Doing this gives them tools to handle not only our emotions, but their friends, classmates, and other adults that they encounter.
It also teaches them that feelings are normal, and the method of handling them is to feel them, and take care of yourself through the process.
Today? Well, I was feeling sad because my father-in-law had died, and I just really wanted to see him. My eldest brought me a stuffy, and the twins followed suit with every plush animal in the house.
But also such a relief. It is easier NOT to pretend to be calm and strong all the time.
And for my kids? They learn that emotions are normal. They learn how to react lovingly to other people when they are low. This type of response is then normalized, and, hopefully played out in the schoolyard.
If this isn't an antidote to bullying, I'm not sure what is!
Judgement just enflames bullying - it clouds us so we stop searching for the root issues. It closes us off to one another, it shuts down our hearts.
The truth? Within a cycle of bullying, there is intense pain and paralyzing fear.
It is what fuels the person bullying. It is placed into the person they are harming. It seeps into their teachers, their administrators... and deeply into their parents.
The solution can be complex... sure. But, to get there, we need to start caring.
Until we shift out of a place of judgement and into a curious and caring mindset, we will never solve the issue.
It is SO easy to snap, to punish, to get angry when our kids are unkind... We were raised to believe that punishment will teach our kids "the lesson" to not bully again.
But, it doesn't seem to work.
Instead, I suggest to parents and educators to get themselves into the mindset of the 4C's when they have to talk with their children or students when there has been an issue.
The 4C's are: coach, calm, caring & curious.
If we can stay loving and non-judgemental, the TRUE story can come out. And when it does - we can solve it.
Usually, when the root issue is resolved, bullying ends.
Let's remember our little people need to learn how to BE, and that includes how to be KIND. It is up to us to help them learn those lessons.
I give this poster to clients to figure out how they handle conflict. When we are stuck within a power struggle (which, in it's extreme form is bullying), we choose to Power Over, or Power Under. We can also think about it as choosing "violence" or "silence".
They key to snap out of these power-plays (and even get out of bullying or abusive relationships!) is to use a Third Way - that is to Power With! There are other words for it - assertive, strong & kind voice, standing up, etc.
Everyone's strong and kind voice sounds different. It's important to find your own so that you will use it!
Send me a message if you want to learn more, or, if you want me to send you a copy of this poster to print!
In the midst of life - of the mess, the clutter, the rushing and accomplishing, I always take time every night to write 5 things I am grateful for.
Choosing this practice gives me a moment every day to focus on what went RIGHT.
The moment in this picture, encapsulates something I’m always grateful for - my son’s relationship with his Grampa.
They delight in each other’s presence, and, in my hurried and harried state, Grampa’s giggle about something my son has done brings ME back to the reality of the moment… When I shift my focus from my whirring mental state into the present, I have a chance to see something adorable or hilarious, and my mind eases.
The expectation of writing 5 things down every day forces me to be more mindful DURING the day of the great things - the birds flying south, a hug between my kids, a kind nod of a passerby. So, I don’t always have to rely on Grampa to shift my focus, I can do it myself too.
Being tapped into what IS helps me to lighten the load of my anxieties about the future.
And, as we take on whatever important tasks we have chosen - for me it’s helping families to get to sleep, and, to help stop cycles of bullying, I can ALSO find ways to ground myself into the exceptional little moments that happen all around me every day.
I know it's so easy (and understandable!) to be mad when bullying happens; To be mad at the principal, or the teacher, or the parents, or the kid... But, can I, just for a second, place another option in your mind:
Maybe, we deal with bullying so badly because society is lacking conflict management skills.
- the principal felt confident that they had an answer.
- the teacher felt like they had all the tools to handle every behaviour in their classroom.
- the parent had all the wisdom to handle their kid with aggressive behaviour.
- the child or teen bullying knew how to regulate their emotions and feelings and handle their pain.
Now think about how conversations might go when bullying did occur from a place of confidence. I can imagine everyone would feel much calmer. There would be more listening, more collaboration, and cooler heads.
I know that this isn't a popular thought, but it's one we need to start pondering.
It could be that ONE answer is to help students, teachers, administrators and parents handle conflict better.
If we made this a priority, I believe we'd start to move the needle towards much safer schools for everyone.