For the Family

Family Meditation

Have you tried Meditating with your child?
Research says, give it a go!

Some of the benefits include:

  • Teaches them how to take full, controlled breaths.
  • Promotes calmness and relaxation.
  • Improves their focus and attention span.
  • Enhances self-awareness.
  • Improves mood and energy level.
  • Promotes mental clarity.
  • Provides a positive experience for parent and child.

Why not give it a try? Check out our previous post on Meditation to help get you and your family started!  

The Health Benefits of Meditation are endless. We have highlighted the top 8 below:

1. Reduce stress
2. Control anxiety
3. Improve emotional health
4. Enhance self-awareness
5. Lengthen attention span
6. Reduce age-related memory loss
7. Help cultivate gratitude & improve mood
8. Help release attachments and/or addictions

Teen Nutrition: Potassium

🍌🍑🥦 Teen Nutrition Talk 🍅🥔🍠🌱

Why is Potassium so important?

Potassium is crucial for the function of several vital organs including the heart & kidneys. Potassium also plays a role in nerve transmission a process which occurs throughout the body consisting of a stimulation and a reaction.

How much Potassium is recommended per day for Teens?

  • Boys – 3,000 mg
  • Girls – 2,300 mg

Did you know there are many more plant- based sources of Potassium than just a banana? Here are some great sources of Potassium to include in your Teens meals!

  1. Fruit & Dried Fruit: Apricots, prunes, raisins, oranges & bananas
  2. Vegetables: acorn squash, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes & broccoli
  3. Beans & Legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, soybeans & nuts

Does your Teen like any of these foods?

Which items do you think you can add more of?

Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/

Teen Nutrition: Vitamin C

Teen Nutrition Talk 
🍓🍊🍋🥭🥝🥦🥔🥬

Vitamin C has so many important roles in the human body!

  1. Antioxidant: Protects against free radical cell damage
  2. Wound healing: Makes the protein collagen wound repair
  3. Boosts Immune Function
  4. Increases absorption of plant-based iron

Daily Recommended Amount

  • Teen Boys: 75mg
  • Teen Girls: 65mg 

Great Food Sources to Provide Vitamin C for your Teen!

  1. Citrus Fruits: oranges, grapefruit
  2. Other Fruits: kiwi, mango, strawberries, cantaloupe,
  3. Vegetables: red & green bell peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, broccoli
  4. Beverages Fortified with Vitamin C- Check the nutrition panel to make sure Vitamin C was added!

Don’t Forget- Prolonged cooking and storage often decreases Vitamin C content. Eat these items raw, microwave or steam to receive the most Vitamin C! 

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

 

Teen Nutrition: Zinc

Todays Teen Nutrition Talk 🤩🌱🧠💪

Is your child between the ages of 13 and 19 years old?
If you answered YES, this post is for YOU!

Zinc is one of the top 10 essential nutrients for teens! 

Zinc is necessary for proper growth & organ development. 
Zinc is also critical for optimal immune function.

Recommended Amounts 
Teen Boys- 11mg daily 
Teen Girls- 9mg daily

Include more of these Zinc-Hearty Sources in your teens diet to ensure recommended amounts are reached.

  1. BEANS & LEGUMES: baked beans (2.9mg per serving), chickpeas (1.3mg per serving), kidney beans (0.9mg per serving), peas (0.5mg per serving)
  2. NUTS & SEEDS: pumpkin seeds (2.2mg per serving), cashews (1.6mg per serving), almonds (0.9mg per serving)
  3. WHOLE GRAINS: oatmeal (1.1mg per serving)
  4. FORTIFIED BREAKFAST CEREALS
  5. SEAFOOD- oysters provide the greatest amount of zinc (74mg per serving). Crab (6.5mg per serving) and lobster (3.4mg per serving) are also good sources of zinc. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/#h3
This is the second post in our series on the Top 10 Nutrients for Teens. You can read the first post here.
If you would like to learn more about our services or have a family meal plan created with you and your children in mind, contact our team at fitness@retreatpvb.com!

Top 10 Nutrients for Teens

Lets talk Teen Nutrition 🍎🥦

This essential period of growth requires key nutrients for your child to reach their optimal status of mental and physical functioning!  

Do you know the top 10 Nutrients for Teens?!

In no specific order…

  1. Calcium
  2. Iron
  3. Zinc
  4. Vitamin D
  5. Potassium
  6. Vitamin C
  7. Fiber
  8. Protein
  9. Carbohydrates
  10. Unsaturated Fat

Nutrition is important during adolescence for growth and development! 🥑🍒🌱

Follow along as we discuss each of these important nutrients for adolescents!

Starting off with Calcium

Teens need Calcium for bone growth & development!🦴

Here are some AWESOME plant-based calcium sources to ensure your teen is getting enough🥬 🥜🥛🥗

  • -SEEDS: sesame, celery & chia seeds (also provide omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation)
  • -BEANS: most beans have some calcium! Beans providing the most calcium include wing beans (24% of RDI) & white beans (13% of RDI). (Beans & lentils are also high in fiber, protein & provide iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium & folate).
  • -ALMONDS: provide 8% of calcium RDI. (Also provide protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese & omega 3 fatty acids).
  • -DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGGIES: Broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens & rhubarb
  • -FORTIFIED FOODS: (this just means processed foods, in which calcium has been added). This includes breads, tortilla, crackers & cereals. Make sure to read the nutrition panel & ingredients list! These products may be high in sugars, oils & preservatives.
  • -SOY & EDAMAME: Tofu provides 86% of calcium RDI & Edamame provides 10% of calcium RDI. (These are also high in protein and folate).
  • -FORTIFIED DRINKS: Non- dairy milk such as almond or soy milk. Soy milk usually provides the greatest amount of calcium at 30% of RDI. Also, fortified orange juice can provide up to 50% of calcium RDI.
  • -FIGS: Provide 5% of calcium RDI. (Also high in fiber, antioxidants, potassium & vitamin K). 

https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/10/17/calcium/

*RDI is the Recommended Daily Intake

Beach Tree - Sunset

World Suicide Prevention Day

 

 

 

Join me, today and everyday, in the fight to prevent suicide. The battle is here in our community and we all need to reach out to those who are suffering with life threatening emotional pain. Suicidal thoughts should never be dismissed or minimized. They always represent a treatable condition. Any emergency room in the country can direct someone to the care they need. If you are worried about someone, speak up, get help, don’t wait. Let’s get rid of stigma and become beacons of hope.

Dr. Burton-Dr. Burton

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Suicide Resource Center has valuable information for families: ACCAP Family and Youth Resources

Mother and Daughter on Beach

Exercising For Two?

We’ve all heard of the phrase “Eating for Two” while pregnant, but have you heard of the phrase “Exercising for Two”? If you haven’t, you’re in good company. 

There are many benefits to staying active while your baby is growing. Exercise and fitness are important while you are pregnant, because in addition to caring for your physical and emotional health, you are giving your baby the healthiest start possible.

Luckily, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided some guidelines to help staying active during pregnancy safe and easy to understand. 

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

  • Aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body
  • Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating
  • You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing.

You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on five days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity.  

During your pregnancy you are certainly going to have times when your body is going to tell you that you need to relax, kick up your feet and take it easy. It makes sense. You’re growing a human after all! 

For me, I had terrible morning sickness for the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter. It was hard to get moving when spurts of nausea hit, but I found that getting out and going for a walk—or taking a barre class—would minimize my nausea and improve my mood.

The ACOG is spreading the word that if you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise with a few modifications. 

Now, if I haven’t convinced you yet, here are some facts to consider.

Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your fetus in these key ways:

  •  It reduces back pain. 
  •  It eases constipation.
  •  It can decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and Cesarean delivery.
  •  It promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy. 
  •  It improves your overall general fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels. 
  • It helps you lose that stubborn baby weight after your baby is born.

Although every pregnancy is different and you need to discuss exercise with your obstetrician, for many women, physical activity does not increase their risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery.

Here are four things you can do to make exercise during pregnancy as safe as possible: 

  1. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration. Signs of this include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.
  2. Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running. Ask your doctor if this is right for you.
  3. Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink cool fluids, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
  4. Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.

If your OB-GYN gives you the green light to exercise, you can decide together on an exercise routine that fits your needs and is safe during pregnancy. There are prenatal barre, yoga and pilates classes designed for pregnant women that teach modified poses to accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance.

You should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods. If you are an experienced runner, jogger, or racquet-sports player, you may be able to keep doing these activities during pregnancy.

There are some women out there who, because of medical reasons, should not exercise during their pregnancy.  Specifically, the ACOG clearly warns women with the following conditions or pregnancy complications not to exercise during pregnancy:

  • Certain types of heart and lung diseases
  • Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
  • Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labor
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
  • Preterm labor or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Severe anemia

As you can tell, I am passionate about this very real and current topic in my own life. I experienced a lot of benefits of staying active throughout my pregnancy and into the postpartum period, as well. And I want to lend support to other women as they strive to balance fitness, fatigue and body changes during their pregnancy. 

So get after it!

Talk to your doctor, and find the activity that best interests you. And although you may need to make modifications here and there, your body and your baby will benefit greatly.

Let’s make this whole “Exercising for Two” phrase an actual thing!

 

Amy-Katherine Ahrberg, RN, BSN

Exercise Nurse Specialist 

The Grove at The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach

The Grove at Ponte Vendra Beach, Logo

American Heritage and Psychiatry

Common Messages to Help us Navigate the Crisis at the Border

The ideals around which we have founded this nation and raised our families are dear to all of us.  We are fortunate to have been born in a nation where we can raise our children in relatively safe and secure communities and change our situation, station, or life when we choose.  When people around the world long for this freedom for their children they may make the choice to leave their land and journey to the United States of America. History has given us direction and psychiatry has given us understanding about how we can form and maintain a rich and diverse melting-pot as a nation.  


“…Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Emma Lazarus 1883


American Heritage

In the 1860s, French anti-slavery activist Edouard de Laboulaye suggested that France gift of the
statue, “Liberty Enlightening the World” to commemorate the alliance between the U.S. and France during the American Revolution and the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War. In order to raise money to construct the monument’s base, the poet, Emma Lazarus wrote the famous sonnet “The New Colossus” for a Statue of Liberty fundraiser in 1883.  Concurrently, the “Great Wave of Immigration” had begun and between 1880 and  1920, 23.5 million persons immigrated to the U.S..  The poet was inspired by her experiences with Russian Jews detained by immigration officials on Ward Island and included a new facet of liberty in her interpretation of what the statue could mean. In the years since, though the statue would take on many additional layers of meaning, the link between it and immigration  solidified. 

America is a nation of immigrants, but we have struggled with our identity.  My own  family came to the United States in 1966 from a small town in Italy, looking for a better life, hoping to find the “American dream”.  Many of you have stories of immigration, renewal, hope, and pride going back just a generation or so. We are the beneficiary of what freedom and opportunity has to offer.   This is the America where we are raising children together with the values we want to uphold. It is hopeful to believe in our commitment to liberty, justice, and freedom for all. It can be difficult to conceptualize that this same invitation is not extended to everyone.    

We have always returned to the vision that the U.S. shall be a place of refuge in the World.  However, in May 2018, the U.S. began  enforcing a “zero-tolerance policy” to prosecute anyone crossing the border, including those who may seek asylum.  This policy determines that families apprehended at the border be separated, with parents being contained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and children being sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. It is estimated that 658 children were separated from their parents in May.  

We have misinterpreted fundamental concepts of helping others, building alliances, and protecting our future when we do harm to those least able to care for themselves.  Children coming to the United States from Northern Latin America are traumatized, depleted and most vulnerable. They are fleeing a degree of danger and violence that is difficult for U.S citizens to understand, because despite our struggles, most of us can access safety and justice when we need it. It is important to understand the meaning and impact of the policy separating children from their parents.

The Consequences of Separating Children from Parents:

Disrupted Attachments

In psychiatry we use the term attachment to describe the secure structure of a relationship between a child and caregiver. It is the portal through which the child learns to experience him/her self, others, and the world around them. The quality of the attachment translates into how the child relates and reacts to everything in ways that both subtle and overt. When the attachment is disrupted, the ripples into the child’s development and future and significant.

A healthy attachment is described as a reciprocal, enduring, emotional connection between a child and his/her primary caregiver(s). This develops from care that is attuned and responsive to the child’s physical and emotional needs. A secure attachment is an essential building block of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Characteristics such as empathy, capacity to love, and inhibition of aggression are all related to a child’s sense of secure attachment in the world.

When this attachment is disrupted through a variety of circumstances such as the abrupt loss of or extended separation from a parent, child abuse or neglect, the child is at risk of attachment related problems.

Attachment Related Problems:

Problems with Interpersonal Relationships:

  • lack of trust in caregivers or adults in positions of authority
  • resistance to nurturance or guidance
  • difficulty giving and receiving genuine affection or love

Problems with Emotional Functioning:

  • minimal ability to recognize the emotions of others
  • poor emotional regulation (moodiness, extreme fluctuations in emotions, “falling apart” when faced with stress)
  • low self-esteem

Behavior Problems:

  • demanding, clingy, and/or overt or covert over-controlling behavior
  • temper tantrums and poor self-control
  • regressed behavior, problems with speech, problems with eating
  • chronic lying and Stealing
  • property destruction and aggression
  • impulsivity

Problems with Cognitive/Moral Development:

  • lack of understanding of cause and effect
  • decreased abstract thinking
  • limited compassion, empathy, and remorse
  • difficulty concentrating and attending to school related tasks

Currently, The U.S. has enacted a policy with potentially devastating consequences to children.  The types of injuries that we are causing can be permanent, pervasive, and exceptionally difficult to treat.  Repair of early life trauma, particularly the abrupt severing of contact between child and parent, without understanding, without predictability, and without promise of reunion causes irrevocable damage.   The cost to these children and the future that unfolds along with them will be astronomical and beyond any justification for the current policy.

It is important to remember that these children may not demonstrate full signs and symptoms of their injuries at this time.  It is not until they reach a place where safety is more certain that that they begin to demonstrate the full impact of the trauma.  As a nation, we have an opportunity to either begin to heal or to further deepen the psychological wounds this children bring with them across our border. The United States has the capacity to offer a restorative and corrective experience to our neighbors, community, and within this nation.  We can rebuild the trust of these children. We can offer security. We have the opportunity to demonstrate that the world can be more good than bad. 

As we look for solutions for families at our border it becomes increasingly important that we remember the lessons from the past. In medicine and psychiatry, not all things are certain; however, there are concepts that are universally accepted and foundational to healthy development. Supporting attachments between parents and children honors who we are as a people and builds upon the original principals of our nation.

 

Theresa Randazzo-Burton, MD
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

 

Resources:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Policy_Statements/2018/Separating_Immigrant_Children_From_Their_Families

Quick Facts:Disrupted Attachment. An Information Booklet For Parents/Guardians and Child Serving Professionals in Chittenden County, Vermont http://studentsfirstproject.org/wp-content/uploads/attachment-booklet-for-parents-guardians-and-child-serving-professionals.pdf

Posted. June 1, 2018. They Are (Still) Refugees: People Continue to Flee Violence in Latin American Countries.  

PEW Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/03/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/

August 2, 2017. TIME Magazine. Author: OLIVIA B. WAXMAN:The Poem on the Statue of Liberty Was ‘Added Later’ But There’s More to That Story

Family on Cliffside

Listening to the Little Things

Let’s Put an End to Bullying

“How did I miss this?  Why didn’t he tell me what was happening?  If I had known sooner, I could have done something! “ As parents, we try hard to avoid getting out of sync with our family.  We have all found ourselves wondering how to encourage our kids to talk to us about the issues they face.  While we may feel helpless or even unwanted at times, the good news is children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help with tough decisions. Getting them to talk is probably easier than you think, it’s just a matter of creating some time and space to connect.  Spending 10-15 minutes a day talking with your kids reassures them that you are available and attentive. If you want to hear about the big things happening in your child’s life, you have to listen to the little things.  

For some families, conversation about daily life, classes, activities, friends, and hobbies comes easily and the topics flow.  Other families may feel out of practice, uncomfortable, or artificial when they try to communicate. Breaking the ice, or getting back to face-to-face communication is worth trying.  Chances are your child (yes, even your teenager) has also been longing to connect with you.

Here are some ideas to help start conversations about your child’s daily life and feelings: 

  • What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
  • What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
  • What is it like to ride the school bus?
  • What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?
  • How does your teacher handle problems in the classroom?  Do you think those methods are effective?

When It comes to bullying, having a foundation of good communication and a feeling of security at home can literally be life saving!  Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how this issue might be affecting your child or the school your child attends. Even if your child is not directly involved in bullying, an environment where bullying thrives can put everyone at risk.  The solutions to bullying depend largely on the bystanders deciding their school should be a place where every student feels safe. We can teach our children this message both directly and indirectly when we talk with them. There are no right or wrong ways to address these topics, but it is important to encourage kids to speak honestly. Assure kids they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise.

You can start having conversations at home with questions like these:

  • What does “bullying” mean to you?
  • Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
  • Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
  • Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
  • What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
  • Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
  • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
  • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?

Expert Tip: Try listening without planning a reply.  Instead, focus on trying to understand how your child is processing and feeling. If you don’t know how to reply, ask your child how you can help.  You may be surprised by the answer. Finding out what would feel helpful goes a long way towards encouraging them to continue talking.

We tune into our children when we listen to answers from questions like the ones above.  We show our children that they have valuable thoughts in their mind and those thoughts can turn into words and actions, which have the power to impact others.  A child who believes in their own ability is not likely to bully others or tolerate bullying around them.

We spend so much time away from our children that it’s important to continually learn about how teachers, friends, social media and other influences are shaping and changing who they are.  When we listen, we stay tuned into the person they are becoming and we send them the message that they are worth knowing. A child who believes that they are worth knowing, worth our time, worth out effort, worth our support is as bullyproof as can be.

There are simple ways to keep up-to-date with kids’ lives.  This is especially important for parents who split time with another caregiver or who travel and are away from home often.

Tips for staying up-to-date with your child’s life:

  • Read class newsletters and school flyers. Talk about them at home.
  • Check out the school website
  • Attend school events and parent nights
  • Greet the bus driver
  • Meet teachers and counselors or reach out by email

When we take time to talk with our children, we provide an example of how to listen, solve problems, and consider others.  The antidote to bullying is building kids who feel capable, confident, and worthwhile. Kids who receive this message at home share it with others.  

Theresa Randazzo-Burton, MD
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

Follow our Blog for more on this series.  Dr. Burton will visit topics related to bullying in more detail in weeks to come.  She will tackle the topics of cyberbullying, helping your child form a peer group, identifying bullying at home, bully proofing, bouncing back from bullying, and more.  Check with the Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach this fall to join our Bouncing Back Group for kids to have experienced bullying.  

Additional Resources:

stopbullying.gov logoNational Anti Bullying Logo Anti-Bullying Logo

Family on Bench

Stop Bullying

Let’s Put an End to Bullying

Kids in the US attend school for 180 days a year!  Half of our childrens’ waking hours from Monday to Friday are spent in classrooms with peers and teachers.  We hope, watch, and wait to see if the people who share our son’s or daughter’s time are going to think he/she is as wonderful as we do! The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach believes that children and teens need a safe and supportive educational environment to achieve their academic potential.  We are beginning a series of blog posts to help arm parents, kids, and educators in our community with tools to prevent, recognize, intervene and bounce back from bullying.

STop Bullying Colorful Hand

This week we look to www.stopbullying.gov/what-you-can-do/teens/index.html for evidence based steps in preventing bullying. Kids take their cues from the adults in their life about how to view bullying.  Parents, teachers, coaches, and administrators serve a vital role in setting the scene at school. We are going to walk through the these prevention guidelines week by week and then move on to intervention and recovery.

Preventions and What You Can Do:

  • Talk about what bullying is and give some examples.  Tell kids bullying is not tolerated on or off campus and the everyone has a role in preventing it.  Make sure kids know who they can go to at school to report something they see happening and that they can make an anonymous report.  Take a look below for our first expanded discussion.
  • Talk to your child’s school about how they prevent bullying and ask if they have a campaign or curriculum they offer specific grade-levels  struggling with bullying concerns.
  • If your child has already been involved with bullying, talk with a specialist about building resilience. It is important for kids to unlearn the bully or victim role before starting a new grade or school to keep the pattern from continuing.
  • Check in with kids periodically.  Listen to their experiences about making and keeping friends. Ask about school.  Understand their concerns about fitting-in, being well-liked, and having a place at school they feel accepted.
  • Foster Interests and Hobbies. Special activities can boost confidence, help kids find like-minded friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
  • Be a good role model!  Kids learn from observing social behavior.  When they see how parents treat one another, principals treat teachers, and coaches treat the opposing team, they are crafting scripts for life.  Examples of adults and peers treating each other with kindness and respect are the best weapon we have against bullying.

Bullying: Know it when you see it!

Children who are able to identify bullying can learn to stand up for themselves and others.  Kids often need grown-ups to help them talk about difficult or embarrassing topics. They also need adults to give them the space and permission to talk.  When they have this, they can safely respond to bullying and get help.

  • Step 1: Help your child identify bullying when it happens.  Ask them to tell you about bullying or if they have seen it at school or on TV.  Physical bullying like pushing, stealing, tripping, threatening with weapons, and acts of intimidation happens on school campuses everyday. However, bullying is often more subtle than pulling someone’s hair or taking their lunch money.  It is often a very personal and shameful. See if your child can identify name calling, rumor spreading, turning peers against someone, pointing and laughing, and intentionally making it unpopular to like someone as bullying.
  • Step 2: Help your child identify trusted adults at school, at home, at camp, and any other place they spend time.  Don’t take for granted that they know who to talk to or that you want them to speak-up. Kids, particularly if they are dealing with a bit of depression or anxiety, can erroneously believe that their problems are not important enough to share.
  • Step 3: Let your child know that it is brave to speak-up about bullying.  Help them step away from the stigma. It takes a lot of courage for a kid to admit to an adult that they are being bullied!  Secretly they may fear that an adult or parent won’t take them seriously or will view them as weak. Their worst fear is that the adult will agree with the things the bully has said or done. In my experience, this is the largest barrier to kids reporting bullying to their parents.
  • Step 4: Tell you child that no one is allowed to hurt them, just as they are not permitted to hurt anyone else.  Let them know that they deserve to be treated with dignity and that the adults at school and in the community believe this also.  Adults will take steps to address when bullying is identified. Most importantly, tell your child that if they inform you of bullying, you will NEVER MAKE THEM SIT DOWN WITH THE BULLY TO TALK IT OUT.  This does not help and is not recommended.  Bullying prevention is accomplished through the bystander effect: when enough kids believe they deserve to go to a school where everyone feels safe and accepted, they will stand-up for that belief.  Building this culture into educational settings, athletic programs, extracurricular activities, and our homes is the treatment for bullying problems in a community.
  • Step 5: Remember that parents are not expected to have all the answers to challenges children face.  Give comfort, support, and advice, even if you can’t solve the problem directly. Children are not always looking for solutions, in fact jumping to problem solving before understanding their experience can be invalidating.  Let them know what they feel makes sense.  Ask them what they think would help–problem solve together.
  • Step 6: Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently, if they find themselves in the middle of a bullying situation.  If it’s something more complicated or dangerous, find strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work.

Additional Resources:

stopbullying.gov logo  National Anti Bullying Logo  Anti-Bullying Logo

Follow our Blog for more on this series.  We will visit these topics in more detail in weeks to come.  The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach will tackle the topics of cyberbullying, helping your child form a peer group, identifying bullying at home, bully proofing, bouncing back from bullying, and more.  Check with the Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach this fall to join our Bouncing Back Group for kids to have experiencing bullying.