BULLYING AND TEASING
This child bullies others and can be quite a manipulator. He/she is frequently involved in name calling and likes to make fun of others. He/she will antagonize others, involves him/herself in fighting or instigating fights or arguments and belittling others. The bully is described as being 'insensitive' to others. He/she likes to solve problems by winning fights and arguments. Aggressive children often threaten others. Other students will fear the bully as he/she will be both verbally and physically aggressive. The bully loves power, is dominant and is usually 'guiltless'. The bully tends to be lacking in empathy and compassion.
The bully is usually somebody that was bullied. There may be an issue at home (physical/mental abuse or neglect, or very poor role modeling). Remember, the bully doesn't suffer from self-esteem.
· You need to sit with the bully in a one to one situation to find out where the behavior stems from. Ensure you have eye contact, engage the bully in conversation to find out what those deep roots are.(Family problems, lack of social skills, pshchiatric disorder)
· Teach cooperative skills, teach anger management, teach empathy. Use drama (role playing) when you can.
· The bully thinks it's ok to be abusive, you will need to teach otherwise.
· You need a 'No Tolerance' policy and the bully has to be a part of the implementation of the policy. The bully needs to fully understand the no tolerance policy.
· Consistent use of effective consequences. Over time, this method will reduce the amount of bullying.
· The entire staff needs to be involved to curb this behavior - using the consistent consequences.
· If you can build home/family connections, this too will assist in the consistency of approaches used and consequences implemented.
· This child may need counseling and you may be instrumental in ensuring that this happens with a professional.
· Bullies need to be taught to be accountable for their actions and state what they did, how it should have been handled and what they will do next time. Bullies also need to self-monitor.
Never forget that ALL children need to know you care about them and that they can contribute in a positive way. It took the child a long time to become a skilled bully, be consistent, patient and understand that change will take time.
The Top 4
1. Students often don't know what appropriate behavior is - they need to be taught! Teach the appropriate interactions, responses, anger management - social skills. Use role play and drama.
2. Expect/demand appropriate responses by ensuring the bully apologizes directly to the victim.
3. Have a 0 tolerance classroom policy in place that is well understood.
4. As much as possible, recognize and reward positive behavior.
School counselors go beyond guidance to defuse bullying
walk into Claudia Trinklein-Engman's office at
Trinklein-Engman, who has been a K-5 school counselor for over 16 years, says that much of the focus for counselors at the primary school level is on resolving social conflicts. This is part of her job's preemptive nature — to teach kids positive social skills before they reach the middle school age, when social conflicts can become more frequent and more serious.
When I or many parents of my generation think about school counselors, we remember mostly the "guidance counselors" who sat at their desks in middle school and dealt primarily with "problem students." Many things have changed since we were kids, not the least of which is that the term "guidance counselor" is passé. School counselors are present in primary and middle schools throughout the country, and their jobs have become much more proactive.
BREAKING THE BULLYING CYCLE
One thing which has not changed all that much, unfortunately: bullying. There always have been — and sadly, probably always will be — kids who try to build themselves up by putting others down. In its most severe form, bullying can include physical violence or intimidation; but more often, it is subtler and more insidious and emotional in nature. These issues are often the province of the school counselor, sometimes in concert with the principal.
The counselor's job is not just to discourage (or in certain cases, discipline) the bully, but also to help the bullied child overcome his feelings of helplessness and despair. Trinklein-Engman recalls an instance of a little girl who was having a "horrific time on the playground," being called fat and dumb and told to "go away" by her peers. "After we talked about it for a while," recalls Trinklein-Engman, "she needed to remind herself that she could be a good friend and a good person." She asked Trinklein-Engman to write this down on a piece of paper, which the girl slipped into her pocket. A week later, the note, a bit more tattered, was still in her pocket.
Counselors in the
Jill Cook is the assistant director of the American School Counselors' Association (ASCA), a group comprised of 24,000 school counselors with chapters in all 50 states. She says that the biggest changes at the primary school level have to do with the amount of time counselors now spend in the classroom. "Counselors may go into classes regularly, even teaching lessons on such topics as bullying, peer interactions, and friendships, good touch vs. bad touch, being organized with schoolwork," she says. "Peer and friendship issues, though they're not as elevated as in middle school, need to be addressed constantly."
Other, more serious topics under the
watchful eyes of school counselors are divorce, death in the family, illness,
or other family crises; and all levels of learning disabilities, from ADD/ADHD
to Asperger's and autism. Counselors serve both as a
conduit of information between school and home, and as a sympathetic and
knowledgeable ear for the child and members of his family. They need to walk a
fine line, however, between doing their job and becoming over-involved with a
family, or overstepping the bounds of their role. Jeannie Abutin-Mitsch,
a counselor at two primary schools in
Abutin-Mitsch says that the most important traits for primary school counselors are empathy, resilience, good social skills, and flexibility. "If we have these skills as counselors," she says, "we are better able to handle the situations we encounter and the people we deal with." Not to mention that these are some of the precise traits counselors spend their time trying to instill in children.
"Many children have a very hard time admitting their mistakes," says Trinklein-Engman, recalling that poster on her wall. "Children typically begin arguing and justifying immediately, and I often have to remind a child that, at this moment, he has upset someone. This is not about being a bad person. This is not about being imperfect. It is about making a bad choice and being challenged to accept responsibility for that choice."