School is finally out!! No more tests! No more studying! No more homework!...but what about bullies? As much as we would like to believe bullies get locked away with the stacks of history books, it simply isn’t true. Bullying can occur at any location and at any time of the year, even during these blissful summer months.
In fact, outside of school, away from the supervision and protocol of the classroom, bullying can actually increase. This is especially true when children go away to summer camps where they are often forced to deal with difficult situations alone.
This isn’t fun to think about, but taking some time now to prepare can ensure a smooth summer and an even a better school year in the fall. Here are some points to consider as you head into your summer vacation:
Where is bullying likely to occur?
Keep up with your child as they participate in their summer activities, asking them questions and monitoring their attitude. If they suddenly seem disinterested in an activity they previously enjoyed, have less and less to say about their day, or talk often of quitting, do a little digging. These could all be signs that something isn’t quite right.
Establish Trusted Adults
This tip was suggested in an article on the website stopitcyberbully.com. Discuss with your child who will be in charge where they are going and who amongst that group they can trust if they need help. This is an especially important step for young children who may have more difficulty identifying the person in charge or having the confidence to approach someone they don’t know.
Again, the goal is to prepare your child, not frighten them. So, instead of saying “If someone teases you or steals your things at camp, tell your camp counselor” you could say “If you ever need help, remember, your camp counselor, Cindy, in there to help you with whatever you need. Her job is to make sure you stay safe and happy, just like your teacher at school!”
On your end, take a little time to establish a relationship with these adults, as well. If you’re able, volunteer to help out. This is the best way to get a front row view of the true dynamics of the group. However, many aren’t able to volunteer, and that’s ok! Again, this doesn’t have to be anything too intense. Simply introduce yourself, exchange contact information, and check in every now and then to see how everything is going.
It seems that gossip is one of the more frequent forms of bullying over summer vacation. Perhaps this is because people who gossip do so to make themselves feel better and summer often involves new, scary situations where kids need to make fast friends, or perhaps it’s because the mystique of not seeing each other every day leaves things ripe for false stories. Whatever the reason, summer camps and sports teams always seem to teem with gossip. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know how to handle the situation since gossip is difficult to confirm, but can do an enormous amount of damage in a short span of time.
Find out where it is coming from and why
Figuring out who started the rumor may shed some light on why it is happening. Was the rumor meant to hurt your child or is it just a case of misinformation? Is the person gossiping or spreading rumors intent on ostracizing your child and getting others to turn against her? This information is important to know before your child reacts to the rumor. For instance, it is easier to clear up a case of misinformation than it is to respond to relational aggression.
Turn to a trusted adult for support
Talk to someone you can confide in, like a parent, teacher, school counselor, or coach. Let that person know what you're going through. Keep him or her up to date on what's going on, even as things start to get better. A trusted adult confidante can help you feel more supported and less alone. Plus, adults can take steps to put a stop to the rumors and gossip
Before you try talking to the person, though, talk with an adult about what to say and how to approach her. Every situation is different, and you want to make sure things don't turn into more meanness, yelling, or fighting. It can also help to have a friend stand with you when you talk to the girl.
Resist the urge to react or get revenge
When people are mean, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed and react in negative ways. But just like with other types of bullying, it makes it worse when kids reward a bully’s efforts by getting visibly upset. It is also tempting for kids to respond in kind with rumors or gossip of their own. Encourage your child not to seek revenge but to take the high road instead.
Don’t pass on gossip if you hear it. Make sure it stops with you
Stress with your child the importance of being mindful of the information they themselves spread about others, as well as themselves. Friends are not always as tight-lipped as they may have promised to be and facts can easily become distorted. Though simple, sometimes the age old “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” policy is the best to follow.
Responding to other types of bullying
Be sure to talk through what your child would do if they were in any position of a bullying scenario (bully, victim, bystander). Depending on your child, different preparations will fit better than others. For example, perhaps your child is very outgoing, social, and popular. He may not be a target of bullying at all, however, he should still be prepared for what to do if he sees someone being mistreated. How would he respond? Is there a way his popularity could help him help someone else? It should never be one child’s full responsibility to control a situation; however, some children have more influence over others and are able to utilize that influence for the better.
Remind your child that respect is always a necessity, even when school isn’t in session. People can still get hurt and angry and sad outside the classroom.
Fun preparation games
Learning doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, summer offers a multitude of opportunities for building valuable social skills such as empathy and teamwork. Here are a few of our favorites:
Sometimes the best way to understand another person is to actually step into their shoes. This blog offers some simple role play activities that can help children get a small taste of what it feels like to live with a disability, have an injury, or go hungry. This idea can be expanded to explore any perspective of your choice.
This activity is great for helping kids of all ages put themselves—literally—in the shoes of another. The activity can be tailored to fit the needs of your particular group.
Summer should be a time of fun, joy, and making memories, and, with a little preparation, it will be! We hope these tips have been helpful and that the only thing you that bugs your kids this summer, are the bugs!
Has bullying ever clouded up your sunny summer fun? Let us know how you handled it in the comments below.
Looking for your next summer read? Check out This is A. Blob by L.A. Kefalos! This beautifully illustrated picture book introduces children to issues such as bullying, differences, and empathy using easy to read rhyming text. Join the sticky, purple "A. Blob" on a journey of learning that there is usually more to someone than first meets the eye...
When trials come, at times in what seems like waves, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude. It can feel like the world is falling to pieces, like somehow evil is winning out, and all we can do is stand by helplessly and watch it dissolve. How can we conquer such looming troubles? How can we defeat such giants? It seems as though we’re always waiting for someone to take charge and solve everything, but it never happens, or at least not quickly enough.
Anne Frank once wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. In her tragic situation, she was able to recognize that it is not only the large actions that matter, but the small ones, as well; that a secretary can change the life of an entire family. A person could do their part right now, right where they are.
It’s a story that has been told a thousand times, but today it still rings true: A boy walked along a beach, throwing back the starfish that had washed ashore. A man saw what he was doing and said “Don’t waste your time, kid. You’ll never get to all of them, so it doesn’t matter.” The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it into the sea. “It mattered to that one.”
It’s important to remember that, just because the war hasn’t been won, doesn’t mean the battles don’t matter. It’s important to remember that each and every time goodness and kindness prevail, it’s a victory. You told one person today that they matter? Victory. You paid for one family’s dinner so they didn’t have to go to bed hungry tonight? Victory. You stood up for a child who was being bullied? Victory. Each and every time kindness wins it means that, this time, cruelty did not.
We are simply a small publishing company, but our hope is that the books we publish are able to make those small, vital, victories possible. We hope that they spread a little more kindness and teach a little more empathy each time they’re opened. We hope they bring a little more joy into this world.
Maybe hate and bullying can never be eradicated, but that does not mean we should stop striving towards that goal. Did you stop someone from feeling like they were worthless? Did you comfort someone who was in pain? Did you read a quiet story to a child, letting him know you loved him and that he was important? I can guarantee you, it mattered to that one.
At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works by authors who have a story to tell or contribute to understanding our world. Our most recent publication, This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos is a picture book that does just that. With its vibrant illustrations, unique characters, and compelling story line, this book helps children learn the concepts of bullying, empathy, and the importance of kindness while they are still young, preparing them to face--and change--the world around them.
Making A. Blob Slime!
Last week, I shared about my visit to an elementary school and the incredible conversations that were sparked by reading the picture book, This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos. This week, I will be sharing about the slime craft we did and the lessons we were able to learn as we created.
I have posted about the A. Blob Slime Craft in previous blogs. It’s such a fun craft with a perfect connection to the slimy A. Blob of the book that I knew I just had to do the craft with the students.
First, I brought out all the slime-making materials, set them in front of the students, and asked if we had slime yet. After looking at me like I was a crazy person, they gave a puzzled “no”. Of course we didn’t have slime yet. The ingredients need to be mixed together and then they will become slime.
Similarly, a mean word here or an exclusion there doesn’t,at first, seem like that big of a deal. However, those words, like the slime ingredients, add up and react with one another. They stick with people and burden them down, staying in hearts and minds long after they’ve been said.
I asked the students if they remembered something kind someone had said to them. A simple “yes” or a “no” was all I expected, but the students' faces lit up immediately as they raised their hands, dying to tell the class the compliment or act of kindness they had received. The answers ranged far and wide, from physical compliments, to befriending someone on their first day at a new school, to a simple “I love you” from a parent. Even children who had been moody or had come in with a bad attitude softened as they remembered a kind word and shared that bit of confidence with the class.
The first time I did this lesson with students, I asked them to recall something mean someone had said or done to illustrate how those unkind actions can stick with us. However, I found that asking them to remember words of kindness had a far greater impact. Not only did it open the students up, it provided a good example of why an how we should act with kindness. Children are told over and over to not be mean, but how often are they reminded to be kind? Sometimes, showing kids what to do is just as important as telling them what not to do.
Next, we mixed the ingredients. The students LOVED watching the purple water/glue mixture magically become a blob as the borax was added. Once the blob was mixed up, the librarian and I divided it into equal parts and allowed the students to take it back to their tables to play. It was such fun watching them get creative with their slime! In this day and age, children spend so much of their time behind computers, taking tests, or filling out worksheets. Giving them the opportunity to use their imaginations, get a little messy, and have fun was a true joy.
In more than one class, one student would try to snag another student’s slime or would say something unkind to another as they played. Just as I or the librarian would be about to step in, another student would say “We JUST talked about being kind and not bullying! Be kind!” Through a picture book and a simple craft, these children were learning the importance of kindness.
Before the students left, I sent them home with a simple reminder “Like A. Blob, your words will stick—kind or mean. Chose them wisely!” I also challenged each of them to do one extra thing that day to show kindness.
I leave you now with the same challenge.
Do you have a fun way of teaching kids about kindness? Let us know about it in the comments below!
For full directions on how to make your own A. Blob Slime, check out our previous post, This is A. Blob SLIME Craft! Kids learn how bullying can become a big, slimy blob!
This is A. Blob is a masterfully illustrated picture book suitable for children ages 4-8. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several animated shorts, including “Who’s that Knocking,” “Chug,” and “Croc, Pots and Wildebeests,” which was nominated for Best Independent Short Short, Ages 5-8, at the 2009 Kid’s First Film Festival and for best short at The Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following this bully.
This first installment follows the antics of A. Blob, a slimy, purple, blob-like creature who wreaks havoc on the elementary school playground with its bullying ways. As the story progresses, however, readers learn that A. Blob may have more than meets the eye.
Along with its powerful illustrations and rhymed verse for early readers, this story invites children to put themselves in the shoes of another. The book encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.