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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Book Club: Little Girls Can Be Mean Chapter 2

Chapter 2
How Can I Help My Daughter or Student?

In this chapter the authors introduce us to the four steps to bully-proof girls. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them and loved how they said this will help 'addressing issues on the fly.' It's all about prevention, responding, and mitigation. Here were my thoughts....

Page 28 - You can't control the other children.
This is huge. Many times I have parents come into my office completely focused on the other child and how they have wronged their kiddo (and yes you get to be upset but then we gotta move on...I would be too). I reassure the parent we will get the behavior to stop. HOWEVER, most times their child is the KEY (I didn't say reason) to the situation/friendship. So I very gently move the focus back to the one being bulled so we can figure out what skills the student needs. If it is an extreme bullying situation - we're all over it. Kinda like the authors say on the bottom of page 25 - if there is danger - then the adults take over. As an educator, I just need parents to know that focusing ONLY on the other child does not help at all. I've been doing this long enough to know that. I say that with respect. I like it when parents say to me, "So how can I help my own daughter?"

Page 32 - Step 1: Observe
Know your child, know their energy, and know this through observation.This is such smart advice. Don't skip past this step - it's so easy to do. How many times has your daughter been trying to talk to you - and you're somewhere else. You are thinking about the grocery list, a meeting at work tomorrow, or the dishes need to be done (or do they?). Maybe you are on the computer, watching TV, or going through the mail...all of these things take you out of the present moment and create a disconnect. Kids notice when you're doing this and they make a note of it - "My mom is always busy and doesn't have time for me. I can't even get my mom to look at me!" Eventually, they'll just quit coming to you.

Tip: When I was growing up and my mom was super busy. She ALWAYS said, "What you are saying to me is important. Can we talk about this in 10 minutes so I can give you my full attention?" I cannot begin to tell you how much that meant to me. If my mom wasn't able to fully look into my eyes and "observe" me....she communicated to me that we would set up time to make it happen. She always followed through. Made me feel really important to her.

Page 34 - Step 2: Connect
Okay all you fixers out there, this step is for you (and me). We are all guilty of it from time to time and we've got great intentions. I think the reason I try and do a quick fix once in awhile is because I can so CLEARLY see the solution. Why not just tell them and save your child the trouble of having to figure it out on their own? Well, we know why. Because that's not helping them at all. It's almost telling them they are incapable. You also rob yourself of connecting with your daughter. So back it up. Page 36 talks about active listening. Love all the examples of how you can do this. It will take practice so don't give up even if you think your words sound funny. What your daughter notices is, "Wow, my mom really cares about my feelings." Can you say connection!!??

Page 40 - Step 3: Guide
Okay, it's time for teamwork. The authors provide a helpful list as to what your role needs to be when it's time to figure out what's going on and allowing your daughter to explore her options.

The List:
1. Identifying the real issue, which may or may not be the problem she first mentioned, or the problem she is telling you (this one happens to me A LOT)
2. Depersonalizing the situation and presenting alternative perspectives
3. Scaling the worry down (or up) to size (I love this)
4. Brainstorming a number of possibilities
5. Helping her understand the dynamics of her friendship group, her place within it, how she feels about it, and how best to respond to her knowledge.

I just dig this whole idea of modeling how to problem solve. Page 43 talks about sharing stories with your daughter. That is so powerful. And boy do they TUNE in when you talk about a life experience, how you handled it, and what it taught you.

Page 44 - Step 4: Support to Act
So after you finish step 3, how will you know your daughter is going to follow through on any of this? Well, you can't control that - but you can be supportive and encouraging. Like the authors say, it might not even be the outcome you both had planned for. She might make a poor decision, the plan might not work, or you might have to come up with something new. Be okay with that. Depersonalize. She's going to be the one choosing the solution. Page 47 talks about being supportive through role-playing. This is a DAILY strategy of mine. It works. I highly recommend you take the time to do this with her. It's also a very connecting exercise.

Tip: When it's time for kids to leave my office after we've done the above steps I often say, "Let me know how it works out for you." "I'm excited to hear how it goes." "Good luck. I know you'll do your best."  These statements are golden with kids. I always hear back from them, even if it didn't go the way they wanted.

Looking forward to your comments. And I'm also looking forward to the giveaway for this book which will be soon!


  1. This book sounds really good so far. I really think as a teacher I need to remember the part about active listening and the idea you said about your mom who said I can't talk right now, can we talk in 10 minutes so I can give you my full attention? The school day gets so busy sometimes I wonder if I gave anyone my full attention all day!?

  2. These are excellent techniques and I love your clear explanations and examples! Bullying is something I feel very strongly about, but I know it does no good at all to wring my hands over it. Taking action, having conversations, and empowering our kids and ourselves is so much more powerful!