November is National Novel Writing Month. In addition to celebrating writers, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it is referred to by some), extends a challenge to writers of all ages and experience levels to write a 50,000 word novel by 11:59pm on November 30.
Throughout the event's 17 years of existence, participants have ranged from elementary students all the way up to seasoned authors such as Sara Gruen, author of Water For Elephants, and Rainbow Rowell, author of FanGirl. In fact, several New York Times Best Sellers began as projects for National Novel Writing Month.
In addition to bringing awareness to the art of novel writing, NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers several programs to encourage and aid both budding and experienced writers. Prep resources, writing locations, and writing parties are all built into the month’s celebrations. The organization even has a virtual writing retreat that provides community and resources to participants. You can read more on the National Novel Writing Month website.
In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I thought it would be fun to take on and extend a challenge to all of you! A writing friend shared this challenge and I would now like to extend it to you:
Write a short story or poem that can be read both forwards and backwards.
Think it’s impossible?? Here is an example of just such a poem that was found written in a London bar:
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don't try to convince me that
There's something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don't last.
And it's not true that
It's all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one's surroundings are good
It's not true that good exists
I'm sure you can agree that
It's all beyond my control
And you'll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day
Are you up for the challenge?
I will be posting our attempt on next week’s blog. If you would like your story or poem featured, leave it in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may see it on the Laughing Leopard Blog next week!
This is A. Blob is a masterfully illustrated picture book suitable for children ages 4-8. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several award-nominated animated shorts, 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 there might be more to A. Blob 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 demonstrates that a bully can come in any shape, size, or color and encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
Be curious, not judgmental
I love this quote by Walt Whitman because it gets at something we don’t often discuss when dealing with the issue of tolerance. In an effort to avoid being judgmental, we sometimes throw the baby out with the bath water, viewing everyone and everything through the same lens—or not viewing them at all.
When teaching kids not to bully, we sometimes tell them that everyone is the same, but this is just not true. Everyone is not the same--thank goodness—and it’s important that we teach children to celebrate, not ignore, differences. This begins by encouraging curiosity.
Curious : Eager to know, inquisitive
The definition of “curious” is “eager to know, inquisitive”. If you’ve ever spent time with a child, you know that this trait comes naturally. Everything is new, everything is exciting, and with this novelty comes a natural desire to learn and understand. Though they learn in many ways, the primary way children discover the world around them is by asking questions. As I’m sure you also know, these questions aren’t usually filtered.
Unlike adults, children don’t know what questions they’re “not supposed to ask”. They don’t know they aren’t supposed to ask why another child’s skin is darker or lighter than theirs. They don’t know they aren’t supposed to ask why a person “talks funny”. They don’t know they aren’t supposed to ask why someone gets around by sitting in a moving chair. So, they ask—much to the embarrassment of their parents. It’s not an uncommon site to see a parent harshly shushing a child and dragging him or her away quickly as they flash an apologetic look at the person in question. The question is…why?
The answer is usually backed by good intentions. Parents may scold their children for asking these “taboo” questions because they want them to focus instead on the things we all have in common. While this isn’t necessarily a bad goal, it can have some unintentional consequences. For starters, when we completely discount diversity, we imply that differences are bad; something to be ignored and hidden. Additionally, we have a tendency to fear what we do not know. How much more will children fear unknown differences when they are coupled with the idea that differences are bad?
Perhaps the most common reason parents discourage the curiosity of their children is for fear of hurting the feelings of another. While a child will rarely point out a difference out of meanness, the person to whom they are referring may still feel uncomfortable being singled out or may be painfully reminded of the many times they were made fun of or excluded for their difference.
So what is the solution? The truth is, when dealing with children, it’s impossible to avoid all embarrassing situations. However, there are ways to minimize hurt feelings while still encouraging natural curiosity. Here are a few basic guidelines:
As adults, it’s easy to think we have it all figured out; that we know all there is to know. However, just like squelching the questions of children, believing we know it all can rob us of the joy of learning something new and wonderful about the people around us. So today, ask questions. Look at things from a new perspective.
Who--or what--is A. Blob? Spark your child's curiosity with This is A. Blob, a beautifully illustrated tale of a unique bully's antics. Discover that A. Blob and, perhaps others like him, may not be exactly what they seem. Lesson plan for teachers or discussion questions for other adults accompany an order. For ages 4-8.
In the past 10 years or so, awareness and education regarding bullying has risen significantly. Today, countless clubs, forums, and materials exist, each detailing how to prevent bullying and how to support those who have experienced it. However, there is one glaring gap in this abundance of resources: support for the parents of bullies.
Guidelines exist for how to handle a child that bullies, but actual support or advice for parents of bullies is rare to find. In an article written by Alissa Marquess for her blog Creative With Kids, the author talks about the shame and helplessness that come with parenting an angry child. Though her child wasn’t a bully, he was still displaying less than ideal behavior, so it would be reasonable to believe that Alissa’s feelings might be similar to those of parents of children who bully. The number one response to the article?
“I’m so glad I’m not alone”
Parenting isn’t easy in the best of situations and when your child is bullying, it can make you feel as though there is nowhere to turn where you will not be judged or accused of being a bad parent. If bullying is going to end for good, though, we must realize that it is a two-sided issue and begin to create resources to help both of those sides. We must create a safe environment for everyone to discuss their issues openly and without fear of judgment. To get the ball rolling, here are some things to remember if you are the parent of a child who bullies:
1.You are not a bad parent
Hearing your child has been bullying others brings on a wave of questions and emotions. “MY child?? He/she would never act that way!” “How could I have missed this behavior?” “What did I do wrong?” “How could I not see he/she was hurting? ”The reality is, though some bullies learn the behavior at home, bullying has multiple causes, many of which are hidden, easily missed, and triggered only while in a school environment. A child who is helpful and kind at home, around those he trusts, may act very differently when placed in a stressful school environment.
Additionally, the causes of your child’s bullying behavior may be issues which call for the help of a professional to unravel. This doesn’t mean you have failed, it only means you need help, and there is no shame in that. The key is to do something about the situation once you become aware of it. Talk to your child and talk with teachers and counselors. Together you can understand why your child is bullying and work through those issues for the future.
4. Talk regularly
This includes conversations with teachers, other parents, and students, in addition to making regular conversation with your child. Bullying is a complex issue and to fully understand why your child is bullying and to ensure it does not happen again, it will be necessary to keep in communication with those who are with your child when you aren’t.
3. Bullying behavior CAN be changed
Despite what many Hollywood films would lead us to believe, your child is not doomed to be a bully for the rest of his or her life. Though some of the personality traits that may lead to bullying, such as aggression or narcissism, will always be present, they do not have to control your child’s life or actions. Aggression and other traits can be managed, children can be taught to recognize when their behavior is becoming harmful, and coping mechanisms can be put into place. Other root causes of bullying, such as loneliness, abuse at home, or need for popularity can be identified and minimized or eliminated. Let your child know that you are there for him and that he will never have to face his struggles alone.
Additionally, don’t forget to find someone you can trust to talk to about yourself. Find a friend, spouse, or confidant who will listen to your struggles without judgment or start a support group for parents of children who bully or have behavioral issues. Not only will you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and advice, you will learn that you are not alone and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
5. Be realistic. Understand there will likely be setbacks and be patient
People can change, but this rarely happens over night. Your child will likely still exhibit bullying behavior off and on while they get used to handling their issues in a healthy manner. While bullying should never be justified, it’s important to be patient with your child and not write him or her off as a “bad kid”. Children have an incredible ability to rise or fall to the bars we set for them.
When setbacks do occur, address the situation immediately. Talk through what happened with your child. Discuss what the other person did, what your child did, why they did it, how they think it made others feel, how it made them feel, and how they could have behaved differently. Make it a point to have your child genuinely apologize to the person they bullied. It won’t be an easy journey, but the destination will be well worth the effort.
6. You are not alone
It may seem that it is you and your child against the world, but the reality is, any good school wants to help all children, including those who bully, to become good, happy, and successful adults. Be open with your child’s teachers and ask them to help you develop a plan to stop the bullying behavior. Chances are, they will be grateful for your willingness to be involved and you will benefit from their support and experience.
No one wants to shout their problems to the world, so it can often seem as though you are the only one struggling, but it simply isn’t true. Whether it’s bullying or something else, every child and every parent is dealing with something. The important thing to remember is, while we are all struggling, we don’t need to struggle alone. By putting aside anger, shame, and judgment, we can all work together to create a better world for our children and better children for our world.
Are you the parent of a child who bullies? What advice do you have for other parents? Let us know in the comments!
Laughing Leopard Press's newest picture book, This is A. Blob explores bullying from the perspective of the bully and those being bullied. Whether your child is the bully, the victim, or is just learning about bullying, This is A. Blob provides an easy way to begin the discussion about bullying behavior. Each copy comes with a free Material Discussion Guide filled with discussion questions, lesson plans, and a craft to help your child understand this important topic.
Have you ever stumbled across a song or a poem that perfectly captures your inner thoughts and feelings? Though sometimes viewed as a lesser genre, poetry has an incredible ability to take the most profound truths and put them simply in a way that makes sense. The rhythm and verse have a way of gently speaking to our souls and revealing things we were never able to see before.
I recently came across a poem that beautifully portrayed a unique way of dealing with bullying. The poem is Edwin Markham’s “Outwitted”:
“He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.”
Though short and simple, “Outwitted” has undertones and intricacies beneath its surface that make it an excellent choice for opening up conversations on dealing with bullies.
First, the poem is empowering. Rather than encouraging children to ignore those who are hurting them, the speaker takes action, and that action changes things. The one being mocked takes control of the situation, not by fighting back, but by refusing to engage in war at all. Children are often told that it takes two to fight; that if they ignore the bully, the bully will get tired and ignore them too. While this is one version of “not engaging in war”, for those children being pushed down, embarrassed, and tormented every day, waiting the situation out may not seem like a bearable solution. In the poem, however, we are shown a different way of staying out of battle. Yes, the taunted one refuses to taunt back or fight back, but he is not powerless. He takes action, but it is action for the positive.
Along this line of thought, I appreciate that the focus of the poem is on the positive. An article in The Dublin Villager shared the story of Drew Jones, an elementary school art teacher who wanted to find a positive way to educate students about bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month.
He came up with a unique idea: an interactive wall where students could leave notes of encouragement for one another. Using recycled cardboard and paper towel tubes, the students went to work creating a wall that featured multiple slots to house the notes, almost like a wall of mail boxes.
The wall was put up in the school hallway and painted orange, the color of Bullying Awareness. While they worked, the children discussed bullying honestly and openly, sharing their own experiences and coming up with solutions to the issue. Months after its creation, the wall continued to be popular, needing refilled every day. “It’s awesome,” one student stated, “It says I’m special.”
Bullying is a difficult and painful topic and it’s easy to get bogged down in discussing the negative causes and effects of the behavior. While it is important to educate children about the realities of bullying, we must not forget the power of kindness and positivity in stopping the problem at its source. We need to teach our children on how to handle bullying when it occurs, but it is imperative that we also take efforts to cultivate an environment of kindness, empathy, and positivity so that bullying is less likely to occur at all.
Another fantastic aspect of Markham’s poem is its description of love as something powerful. Love is sometimes portrayed as a weakness, or as something that is soft and delicate, but the reality is that love is the most powerful tool that we have and true love is tough. True love changes lives. Many children bully because they don’t feel loved. By loving the bully instead of simply telling him or her to “stop”, we cauterize the wound instead of constantly trying to staunch the blood. It was love that prompted the speaker in the poem to act. It was love that took a situation of pain and separation and turned it into one of forgiveness and togetherness. “Outwitted” teaches children that love is strength, not weakness.
Markham also draws a connection between love and wit. Not only is love often portrayed as a weakness, it is also frequently connected with foolishness and helplessness. People fall in love, they are blinded by love, or they act unwisely because they are in love. However real, true, love, takes all the wits you have. To love someone means to care for them, to want the best for them, even when they aren’t acting very likeable. True love isn’t always easy and it takes thought and wisdom to foster and maintain. Retaliating, ignoring, or running is easy. Loving someone that is hurting you takes intelligence and clarity of mind. This poem illustrates that.
A unique facet of “Outwitted” is that, unlike many other works of literature, it humanizes the bully. It doesn’t call him names, wish a horrible fate for him, or paint him as a villain. Instead, it portrays the bully as someone who can be loved. Many children bully because they feel inadequate or isolated. By creating a circle that includes the bully, the writer is not only saying “you were wrong about me”, but also, “you were wrong about yourself.”
Teaching children to draw others in builds empathy, a core skill in preventing bullying, and provides a concrete example of empathy for children who bully, as well. Our goal should not be to simply end the bullying, but to mold children into adults that will never bully, who will choose to always consider and value the thoughts of others, and who will always try to love first.
The final strength of this poem is that it is visual. Loving someone that is hurting you or trying to view the world from their perspective can be a foreign or even abstract concept, especially to a child. However, even a child can understand the significance of drawing an inclusive circle. This could even be carried into a classroom activity to help illustrate the point.
Have students stand outside on the sidewalk and draw circles around groups of kids. Ask students to describe what is similar about everyone in their circle. Without moving, change the circles (think Venn Diagram). Have the new groups find similarities, illustrating how they all have commonalities if they look for them. Discuss how they felt when they were left out of someone else’s circle or if someone was left out of theirs. Using the poem, connect this literal drawing of circles to the figurative boundaries that are frequently drawn amongst students.
On the surface, Edwin Markham’s “Outwitted” is short and simple, but like most poems, there is a lot going on underneath. Christmas time is filled with songs and rhymes. In this season of goodwill and togetherness, I would encourage you to add this poem into the mix!
Have you read this poem before? What did it say to you? Would you use this to help prevent bullying? Let us know in the comments!
They’re all the rage these past few years as Marvel unleashes movies in its Avenger’s series. From movies to purses to backpacks and now even to library summer reading programs, it’s hard to miss the superhero sensation! Walking through my local library, looking at the capes and hero emblems decorating the walls, I had to wonder: why are we so captivated by these masked vigilantes? I believe there are two reasons. First, superheroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things! They are standing up for the little guy and making the world a better place. Superheroes do what we are often too afraid to do ourselves.
The second reason for our superhero fascination is captured in the library’s summer reading tagline: “Every Hero Has a Story”. As much as we love to watch superhuman people perform amazing feats of bravery, we love it even more when we are given a glimpse of their humanity. We appreciate the real-life struggles each hero faces because we see ourselves. We begin to think, “If he can do it, maybe I can too…”
The truth is, there are no superheroes, but there are heroes.
They are ordinary people with ordinary stories who made extraordinary choices.
It is those choices that transform them. This is one of the most important lessons we can instill in our children. Not only can children look up to superheroes, they can BE superheroes! As our children gear up for another school year, this is an especially important message. School is filled with many wonderful things, but it can, unfortunately, also be full of hardships and trials. As hard as they try, teachers cannot be everywhere and situations will arise when children will have to take care of matters themselves. So what can we do to prepare our kids to make the choice to be heroes instead of bullies this school year?
Here is a list of activities to get you started:
1: Act like a hero
Talk with your kids about what makes someone a hero. Why do we look up to heroes? What qualities do we admire and how can we replicate them in our everyday lives? A fun way to visualize this is to create a collage. Have your child cut out pictures of people he or she admires (they don’t necessarily have to be superheroes) along with words that describe that admirable person such as honor, truth, and courage. Help them to see that this is how a hero behaves.
Discuss a few small ways your child can be a hero at school, such as always being respectful and honest with his or her teacher, sitting with someone at lunch who doesn’t have a friend, or refusing to participate in bullying activities. Marvel actually made some awesome special edition comic book covers in support of bully prevention month that show favorite superheroes preventing bullying. These could serve as great inspiration for ways your child can be a hero instead of a bully!
Also be sure to check out an earlier blog post we wrote called In a New Light for some tips and books to prepare your child to deal with bullying.
A quick word of caution: kids are still kids and while it is our job to teach them how to handle life on their own, we need to be sure to let them know when it is time to call for adult backup. Hey, even Batman called for reinforcements sometimes!
2. Talk like a hero
This is a tip I picked up from the fantastic blogger Carrots are Orange. When her children are fighting and the inevitable name calling begins, she asks them the simple question: “Is this how heroes talk? Would a hero say ‘stupid’?” If mean names and insults start flying, recall the hero collages and ask your child if he or she is acting very much like a hero right now. Chances are, they will see their words more clearly.
3. Dress like a hero
4. Be a hero!
With your child, act out different scenarios they might encounter at school, such as one student calling another stupid, gossiping about the teacher, pushing, or being left out at recess. Talk about how a hero would behave in these situations. What are words, phrases, and actions that could help the situation instead of make it worse? Discuss how it probably won’t be easy and it might even be a little scary to speak up and go against the flow. It might be hard to choose kind words over angry ones or to not call names in retaliation, but remind them that
difficult is not impossible.
Especially not for a hero! Remind your child to look down at his or her hero bracelet and choose to be a hero today. And remind him or her that sometimes heroes call for backup. Make a list of adults your child can go to in times of trouble and discuss what those situations might look like. Think of this list as a superhero tool-belt.
I hope you find these tips helpful as you and your child prepare to begin another school year!
To be a real hero today, consider donating to these worthwhile causes that work hard each and every day to end bullying, comfort victims of bullying, and make the world a better place:
Stand For The Silent
Small Acts Big Change
Stomp Out Bullying
Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
To help young children (ages 4-8) understand the issue of bullying check out This is A. Blob by L.A Kefalos. In a beautifully illustrated tale of a playground bully’s antics, readers discover that A. Blob and, perhaps others like it, may not be exactly what they seem. Through this story, children are encouraged to put themselves in the shoes of another and consider what can be done to help bullies and the victims of bullying.
Let us know in the comments what your secret superhero name would be!
Books are a fantastic way to learn.
As we read, we begin to see ourselves and our own situations through those occurring on the page. Diving into adventures and immersing ourselves into created worlds, we hardly notice that lessons are being taught. Yes, books are an incredible teaching tool, and, as many parents and teachers have learned, the impact books have is compounded exponentially when combined with discussion and/or hands-on connective activities. We know this, so we bring you:
For those who may not know, This is A. Blob is a 20 page illustrated children’s book that explores the topic of bullying. Written by Lori Kefalos, author of several award-nominated animated shorts, This is A. Blob is the first of a series following 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 there might be more to A. Blob 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 and encourages readers to consider why bullies behave the way they do – and start to consider what can be done to help.
This is A. Blob Slime is a craft designed to help kids make connections with the story, inspire conversations, and internalize the message of the book. With school just around the corner, this is the perfect craft to begin discussions about the bullying that children will often face as they walk the halls.
We did this craft with 3 different children: One boy, J, age 4, and two girls, S, age 7, and N, age 5.
First, we sat down and read the book together
As we read, we let the children make their own comments, prompting them occasionally with questions such as “How do you think A. Blob is making the children feel?” or “What would you do if you were on the playground?” This started the girls thinking more deeply about the story. After the story was finished, we talked a bit more about bullying and standing up to bullies. It was interesting to see the different personalities of the kids shine through in their reactions—a good reminder that all children view the world differently and as caretakers we must be sensitive to their unique needs as we teach and equip them to face that world.
Both S and N responded right way that A. Blob was a “big meany”. They quickly recognized that this was why it had no friends. S said she would befriend A. Blob because it was lonely and that’s why it was being mean. This is how she would help it to be nice and how she would stop the bullying. N took a more direct approach and stated she would tell A. Blob to “Stop! Just stop being mean!” With the book and conversations fresh in their minds, we moved into the kitchen to begin the craft. They were very excited to make A. Blob!
Step 1: Gather your materials
You will need: 1tsp Borax, ½ C warm water, 1 8oz bottle of glue, 2 nonstick mixing bowls, 2 spoons, food coloring, plastic baggies (This made enough goo for 3 people to have decent sized globs to play with)
Step 2: Mix your ingredients!
-Empty entire bottle of glue into mixing bowl
-Fill empty glue bottle with warm water and pour into bowl with glue; mix
-Add desired color to glue/water mixture
-In the second bowl, mix 1tsp Borax with ½ C warm water
-Slowly add the Borax mixture to the glue mixture. Use hands to finish mixing for best results
As we added our ingredients, we talked about the ingredients that make up a bully. What makes people act mean? I pointed out how, on their own, the ingredients were not sticky, but as they mixed, they created a big gooey blob, like A. Blob. In real life, our harsh words and mean actions mix together and add up to a big, sticky, mean mess that can hurt others badly. This seemed to make sense to them.
Step 3: Play and learn with your slime!
One interesting thing happened that I didn’t expect while we were making the slime and that was role playing. Once the goo was mixed, N picked it up and said “I’m a big mean blob! I’m going to throw punches and be mean!” We didn’t have too much time and the kids were very energetic, but I can see doing this again and having N play out a situation similar to when the girl was mean to her and using the role play to try to understand why she (or the blob) was being mean and what could be done to help the situation.
S made a connection to the book when I didn’t expect it, too. She picked up the goo and let it fall down and said “It has no form or shape”, quoting from the book. This allowed me to mention how liquids will take the shape of whatever container they’re in. Not only is this a scientific principle, it can be connected to the story by saying that maybe if the container is love and friendship, the blob will take on that shape and stop bullying. Isn’t it cool how kids will make their own learning connections that we never even thought of??
Another fun addition N and S thought of was to put faces on the plastic baggies (We put the goo in baggies after we were done playing with it, but if you have a kid who can never keep his craft on the table, putting it in a baggie from the get-go might be helpful!). This way, they could show how the blob was feeling. Neat! You could even have a “before” and “after” blob to show how A. Blob felt and acted before intervention and after.
Always looking for a teaching opportunity, I tried to sneak some science into the craft, too. Because we only had red and blue dye, we were able to reinforce that blue and red make purple. We also talked about how the Borax would react with the glue to make a new substance. We hypothesized about what would happen if we added more water or more Borax. N thought more water would make the mixture “purpler” =)
Overall, all three kids loved doing the craft. It was such a cool way to mix science, literature, and feelings. Reading the story opened up the discussion on bullying and the process of making the craft and playing with the tactile goo was a fun and useful tool to keep that discussion going. We were able to talk about the mean girl, how her actions made N feel, what we can do when we see someone being bullied, different reasons why people bully, and how even mean people (and blobs!) can change. The book and the craft ended up being great, nonthreatening ice breakers for a very difficult topic.
Bonus- the goo wipes off of surfaces very easily
Caution: It will stick to clothes. Make sure the kids are wearing something durable. The glue will wash out, but the food coloring might stain lighter clothing. I would recommend plastic aprons for more energetic children, just to be on the safe side.
As the school year draws near, consider picking up a copy of This is A. Blob and trying the craft out for yourself as a way to prepare your children for the bullying they may confront in class. Get creative and experiment, adding bits to the goo to represent different parts of the bully or writing a storyline for your blob. Share your results with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and let us know in the comments what books or activities you’ve used to introduce and discuss bullying with your kids!
Purchase This is A. Blob from our website or Amazon
While bullying has been an issue for many generations, technological advancements we have today leave people open to threats in the comfort of their own homes. With progress comes challenges and unfortunately cyber-bullying is a byproduct of this. However, this doesn’t mean that other bullying isn’t happening, because it is. Bullying can also happen at school and during extra curricular activities. Bullying can be the cause of depression and suicide, which is why many people are speaking out about it and advocating for a bully-free world. Thanks to HelpGuide.org, we have new insights on ways to cope with and prevent bullying.
Many times children being bullied wonder why they’re the ones being taunted. Victims might feel that something is wrong with them. HelpGuide.org helps us understand what goes on in a bully’s mind and it typically has nothing to do with the people they target. Those who bully can be jealous of the target, act out to become popular, stronger, or more powerful than the target, to escape their own problems, or because they’re being bullied themselves. If possible, instead of becoming more introverted, it can be helpful to look at the issue from a different light. The following are some tips for reframing the bullying situation to help regain a sense of control:
· Try to view bullying from a different perspective. The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
· Look at the big picture. Bullying can be extremely painful, but try asking yourself how important it will seem to you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? Is it worth getting so upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
· Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. Make a list and refer to it whenever you feel down.
· Find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully.
· Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than allowing interactions to cause undue stress, focus on the things you can control, such as the way you choose to react to bullies.
If you have children, walk through these steps with them and help them to understand how and why to implement each suggestion. Role-play different scenarios where one of you is the bully and one of you is being bullied. How do you feel in each scenario? Why do you think the other person is acting or reacting in that way?
Another great way to help children understand and cope with bullying is through literature. Books open the doors to discussion and allow children to see situations from a new perspective. Here are a couple books that show bullying from the perspective of the victim and the bully. These books encourage children to consider the views of others:
This is A. Blob by L.A Kefalos
This picture book is the first in a series that follows the antics of a playground bully named A. Blob, a sticky blob of purple goo that wreaks havoc at school with its bullying ways. What is great about this book is that the bully is race and gender neutral, so children can project their own experiences into the story. As the story progresses, we learn that A. Blob has pain of its own and perhaps the acts of bullying are a cry for help. The text rhymes and the illustrations are beautiful, making this book a good tool for introducing bullying situations to young children.
The Weird Series by Erin Frankel
This is a series of 3 picture books, each showing the same bullying situation from 3 different perspectives (the bully, the victim, and the bystander). With each character getting her own book, children are able to get a more in-depth view of each situation than they might if everything was put into just one story. The Weird Series is geared for 8-11 year olds. Like This is A. Blob, The Weird Series is perfect for helping children to understand both the causes and effects of bullying.
Bullying is a difficult issue to deal with and understand. It’s complex, sticky, and nuanced. Thankfully it is not unsolvable. By using tools such as those provided by Helpguide.org and authors like L.A. Kefalos and Erin Frankel, we can help children to gain a new perspective on bullying, understand the issue, and begin to end bullying once and for all.
What tools have you used to help children understand the issue of bullying? What helped you to gain a new perspective? Share your experiences in the comments or talk with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Purchase This is A. Blob from our website, or check it out on Amazon!
See the trailer for This is A. Blob
Purchase The Weird Series
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.