Look at your feet to beat back to school stress

Back to school can be a stressful time for kids that are bullied. I have put together some ideas to help you reduce your stress and move forward.

A Tip to beat back to school stress

Look at your feet to beat stress (that means get active)

Most people agree that if you are feeling stress, you need to get moving. One guy told me that anytime he feels stress, he looks at his feet. He means he reminds himself he needs to get moving. He goes on a quick walk or jog, or he gets up and starts doing anything that comes to mind. He just gets moving.

Inner, personal thoughts cause stress. I believe in taking control of inner thoughts as much as possible. That may sound crazy to you, but did you know we can actually take control of our own thoughts? Any time you start feeling stressed out about going back to school, just repeat a line in your head like this one:

In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way,
I am comfortable and happy at this very moment.

The words easy / relaxed / positive / comfortable / happy will start to subconsciously tell your brain to be this way. This is not a new idea, but it can have a very powerful effect, especially if you memorize the two lines and just say them over and over in your mind, any time your mind is stressing you out.

If you want to give this idea a try, you can do an on-line search for mantras. That is the name for a phrase you repeat over and over in your mind to take control of your thought process.

Don’t get bogged down though, because a lot of information about mantras is spiritual or in other languages. Mantras don’t need to be confusing or complicated. Just put some words together that make you feel good like I’ve suggested above. Stay away from words like tension or stress or bully. In other words don’t make a mantra like “I won’t be stressed and I will block out tension. I will not allow people to bully me”. The problem with that mantra is that the brain will hear the words stress / tension & bully and it won’t have a positive effect.

Usually stress comes from negative thoughts in your mind. If you can replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts, you can start to take charge of your thought process and leave a lot of your stress behind.

Of course, some stress is completely normal. If you didn’t stress out a little about certain things, you might not achieve much. Some people say certain kinds of stress are good because it gets us moving and we take action.

Too much stress is when things get dicey. Health problems can start, like upset stomach or headaches or rashes. They say the list is endless. Rather than thinking about stress, why not think about relaxed living.

Of course, these ideas are my personal opinions, but I have found the suggestions can really make a difference and actually reduce stress quite a bit. If you found them helpful, please leave me a quick reply.

Bruce Langford is a bullying prevention advocate who speaks and presents anti-bullying assemblies in schools  http://www.standupnow.ca

Attend an amazing bullying prevention conference by PREVnet

Prevnet Bullying Prevention ConferenceYesterday I attended the annual anti-bullying conference in Toronto sponsored by PREVnet. The theme of this years’ conference was “creating healthy relationships to prevent bullying: get the tools to take action”. This years’ conference was the sixth annual anti-bullying conference put on by PREVnet. Dr. Wendy Craig (Queen’s University) and Dr. Deborah Pepler (York University) offered the welcoming address followed by a performance of “You Bullying Prevention Conference Toronto 2012know what I wanted next order to Have the Power” by Disney performer Jasmine Richards. Her performance included an excellent video to support the lyrics of the song.

The keynote address was called “Sex, Gender and Schools Oh My!” Presented by Ken Jeffers, co-ordinator, gender-based violence prevention, Toronto District School Board.
Ken Jeffers talked about changing school climates using rules and consequences to change individual actions. He talked about the umbrella of oppression which includes sexism and homophobia. One of Ken Jeffers points was that gender and biological sex is often assumed to be the same, even though this is sometimes far from the truth. He talked about Bill 13 and the media frenzy which has gone along with it as well as Bill 157, the education amendment act from 2009. What do you Ken concluded his presentation with the statement that “the number one key to success is our students”.

Bonnie Leadbeater, of Victoria British Columbia, spoke about making a WITS Bullying Prevention Conferencedifference in your community by becoming a WITS community leader.

Wits stands for :
Walk Away
Ignore
Talk It Out
Seek Help

These four pieces of advice are recommended for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

Children in grades 4-8 are encouraged to solve problems by using the LEADS acronym:
Look and Listen
Explore Points of View
Act
Did It Work?
Seek Help

Dr. Shelley Hymel, from the university of British Columbia spoke about Social and Emotional Learning in Schools. Traditionally, schools have focused on cognitive development and academic achievement yet recent students are indicating that social and emotional growth have a more important role than previously believed.
Her talk was detailed and informative and we learned specific ways to nurture Social Emotional Learning (SEL) such as using books as discussion starters and encouraging cooperative learning in the classroom.
Dr. Hymel also pointed out that punitive discipline is often much less effective than restorative discipline. She told us about an excellent system of discipline called Restitution Self-Discipline, developed by Diane Gossen of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I will definitely be checking out Diane’s material.

Justin W. Patchin, PH. D. from the University of Wisconsin’s Cyberbullying Research Center was also an excellent speaker I had the opportunity to hear.
His presentation covered how young people use and misuse technology to sometimes cause harm to their peers. He discussed the role of teens and adults in preventing and responding to inappropriate online behaviours as well as strategies to use to make sure technology is used safely and responsibly.  He talked about Toronto area student, David Knight and how difficult it was for his family to have an inappropriate website taken down. Dr. Patchin told us that lack of supervision of youth on-line causes many problems, as well as parents allowing children to have internet enabled computers in their bedrooms.
He said many schools treat cell phones like underwear: we know it’s there, but we just don’t want to see it.
Dr. Patchin’s talk was informative, easy to follow and included a large amount of up-to-date information about young people use of the internet and cell phones.

The 2012 PREVnet conference was once again an excellent opportunity to learn about recent research which has taken place on the topic of bullying prevention.

Thanks PREVnet!

Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate from Ontario, Canada.
www.brucelangford.ca

My school has no anti-bullying program

school bullying programSo your 10-year old son, Hammoud, comes home from school with a devastated look on his face. You ask what is going on, but he won’t tell you anything. Finally that night, just before he falls asleep he tells you that something happened at school today. Another boy in his class said some things that really sunk his confidence. He had been getting along great with the others boys in the class, and now one kid is making life miserable for him. Then it comes out. This isn’t the first time. Jason has been bullying Hammoud ever since September.

As a parent you start asking yourself questions.

* Why didn’t I know about this?
* Why didn’t I see it coming?
* Doesn’t Hammoud care enough about me to share something like this with me?
* Are my parenting skills lacking?

Then my thoughts turn to the school. “What is being done to prevent bullying? Do they have policies in place?” Based on the amount of media coverage of bullying, I think to myself, “the school must have an anti-bullying program which is on-going.”

I try to encourage Hammoud the best I can and the next day I set up an appointment with the school vice-principal. After explaining the situation and discussing what is happening to Hammoud, I find out that actually the administration appears to be overwhelmed and the vice-principal is using excuses about the bullying that is taking place. She finally admits that the school really doesn’t have an actual anti-bullying policy and they have no anti-bullying program at the school.

You leave the meeting feeling rather deflated and disappointed. Your thoughts are racing. You want the best for Hammoud, but why hasn’t someone stepped forward and demanded that an anti-bullying program be implemented? After a few hours your perspective changes. You remember a lecture you attended recently where the emphasis was on taking responsibility. You realize this is definitely one of those instances.

You do some research and find out that an anti-bullying program needs to have certain elements:

1/ a well thought-out plan
2/ a centered goal
3/ parent, teacher and administrative involvement
4/ a strong leader/organizer to coordinate the effort

The next day you make some phone calls and send some e-mails to some of the

Anti-bullying program

This school has an excellent anti-bullying program

other parents you know from the school explaining your plan to set up an anti-bullying program. You google a woman you heard on the radio who is responsible for bullying prevention in her area of the province. Before long, you have another parent to co-chair the committee with you and you’ve mustered up a team of seven parent volunteers to help out. The school is on-board and they have volunteered to have two teachers and the Principal sit on the committee as well. The school has even found a budget of $500.00 to contribute.

Two months later, you think back to that day when Hammoud came home from school with the devastated look on his face. You can’t believe how much has happened since then. Hammoud is now much happier in school. He’s not having problems with Jason any more, and his self-esteem has returned. You have a binder containing records of more than 45 calls and e-mails from  inquiries and people offering to lend support. You are now in a position to help others start anti-bullying programs at their schools.

Although the above story is ficticious, you can learn from the example of the parents’ situation. Practically anyone can set up an anti-bullying program. It takes courage, determination and most of all, action. Plenty of action is what makes anything happen, but you can definitely make a difference in your school community by stepping out and organizing an effective school anti-bullying program.

PRO Grant Education Subsidies Boost School Bullying Prevention Efforts

Pro Grant Education SubsidiesEducation Subsidies are available to assist with the costs of bullying prevention programs which can be featured in your school. Parent Council groups in Ontario often have education subsidies available to them in the form of parent reaching out grants, otherwise known as PRO Grants. Pro Grants can be used for purposes that benefit the whole school and particularly parents. What could be more beneficial to parents in the school, than events and activities to help them learn how to deal with bullying that may involve their children? Schools today teach children how to deal with bullying and most schools feature programs, activities, and curriculum-based learning all geared toward teaching children bullying reduction strategies. Up to now, one of the missing links has often been the parent piece. Parents need to be on the same page as children when it comes to bullying prevention. What are some of the things parents need to know?

1/ Cyber-bullying guidance

2/ How to be proactive & prevent bullying

3/ How to guide children in case bullying incidents occur

Cyber-bullying guidance:
When we present our parent programs in schools, one of the first things we point out is related to internet safety. Parents need to be aware that the computer at home should be located in a central place where everyone goes like the kitchen or family room. Young children should grow up with the idea that Internet usage should be open, and freely shared with each other. It should not be a secretive activity. Another thing we point out is how to provide guidance to children if they do run into a problem online. We need to help our children remain open and trusting, so that if something happens online which is negative, they will share it with us as parents. Keeping communication as open as possible when he children are young is a great first step to helping them when they are older.

How to be proactive and prevent bullying:
Teach your children to walk with confidence. Help your child build strong self-esteem so that they will be sending the message to others, that they are not available as a bullying target. Teach your children to report bullying. Help your children understand that after school it is important to share what has happened during the days’ events. If children get used to sharing their daily activities with family when they are young, there is a much higher chance that they will continue to feel free to share when they are older. Studies have shown that problems occur in children who try to keep all of their frustrations inside.

How to guide children in case of bullying incidents:
If a bullying incident happens, step in immediately to stop the behavior from continuing. Be clear about the facts and understand the difference being telling and tattling. Consult with the teacher, vice-principal or principal. Remain calm, keep an open mind and be discreet. If things don’t improve, meet with the principal again and make a written plan. Be sure to contact police if a bullying incident involves criminal behavior such as sexual assault or the use of a weapon. Check with your school to see if education subsidies have been used to sponsor parent workshops on bullying prevention.

Pro Grants are worthwhile education subsidies that have made many anti-bullying activities a reality in Ontario schools. Parents have told us on numerous occasions that they have benefited from workshops and bullying prevention seminars such as our ‘Stand Up – Keep Your Kids’ evening session.

Bruce Langford presents anti-bullying sessions in schools and workplaces to counter bullying and increase respect
www.standupnow.ca  or 1-800-901-8831.

Bullying in Elementary School – 3 Key Ways To Stop It!

Yesterday we visited a Toronto Catholic School where the topic of bullying in elementary school is definitely taken seriously.

Georges Vanier Catholic School Principal, Ms. Silvana Reda, is obviously passionate about the topic of bullying as well as child safety. She has discovered many ways to help stop bullying in her elementary school as we were to learn during our visit.

Bullying in elementary schoolHappy Students: If students feel happy and respected, bullying in elementary school is diminished. That is certainly a belief that I personally share. After presenting hundreds of anti-bullying programs, I have come to the bullying in elementary school solutionconclusion that one way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure students feel respected, appreciated and happy. There are a number of ways to do this, and I’ve talked about them some of my other blogs. However, students tell me that one of the things that make them feel happiest in school is simply having a sense of belonging. Children want to feel safe, they want to feel included, and they want to feel a sense of importance. Studentsbullying in elementary school - student work want to feel empowered in their environment. When you think about it, the same thing is probably true for most of us as adults. Don’t we want to feel safe included an important in our workplace? Don’t those things help us to feel valuable and empowered? I believe the answer is an emphatic yes.

Happy Teachers: I believe the following statements to be true in many cases:
Happy teachers are productive teachers.
Happy teachers generate happiness in their students.
Happy teachers get along well with other staff members.
After meeting thousands of teachers and visiting hundreds of schools, I really believe that a powerful way to reduce bullying in elementary school is to make sure the teachers enjoy coming to their jobs. One person who can help make this happen is the school principal. She or he can create a working environment which puts teachers at ease while at the same time resulting in a productive and creative atmosphere.

Activities: There are many activities which can take place during the school day to remind students about the virtues of respect, kindness and consideration. These activities can certainly help to reduce incidents of bullying around the school. Principal, Silvana Reda gave us a tour of George Vanier School Catholic School pointing out many activities her students had done which were related to respect and bullying prevention.
Caring Tree – In the front hall area is a caring tree which reminds everyone in the school about acts of caring which take place at Georges Vanier.
Bulletin Board Display – Each class creates an anti-bullying poster monthly which is displayed on the board for all to see. A monthly anti-bullying theme keeps it interesting.
Posters – Throughout the school are anti-bullying posters featuring students from Georges Vanier. The messages and designs of the posters were created by students for students and have been reproduced on professionally looking hard board and then permanently mounted on the walls.
Murals – The library features a colourful mural around the room on the wall near the ceiling. This mural is very inspiring and makes the room come alive.
Announcements – Play song clips, read catchy slogans, or have a ‘respect’ word of the day.
Contests – Get everybody involved in contests by offering fun prizes or even giving the winning class celebrity status with the school mascot for a week. If your school mascot is the cougar for instance, have a stuffed cougar which spends time in various classrooms or locations in the school as part of the award system. You could run a poster contest, a write a catchy song contest, a slogan for a month contest or even a math or science contest. Your imagination is your only limit.

So the three key ways to help stop bullying in elementary school are:
1/ Ensure students feel respected, appreciated and happy.
2/ Help teachers be happy in their roles
3/ Bullying prevention and respect activities

Have fun getting everyone involved.

Bruce Langford offers bullying prevention school assemblies and keynote talks:
http://www.standupnow.ca 1-800-901-8831

How to use respect activities to change your school climate

How can we truly change the climate in our school? Can we actually re-form opinions that students and staff possess? Is there a way we can change a negative or mean-spirited school climate into one where cooperation, kindness and consideration abound? Can respect activities actually make a positive difference?

St. Sofia offers Respect Activities

Many Respect Activities at St. Sofia School

The short answer is yes; these kinds of changes can be made. In fact there are schools in our own jurisdictions that prove this fact. Attempting to define the actual system or step by step list of procedures to achieve these goals could be a challenge, but it is safe to say that some basic respect activities can go a long way toward making a difference. Here are some tips to get started.

First of all we must define what we are actually trying to achieve. Many people would agree that we are trying to achieve a climate of respect within the walls of the school. In my opinion respect must start from the top and sift its way down. If the administration, including all the teachers, all support staff and even custodial staff live respect in their day-to-day work at the school, then others will begin to take notice. By others I mean students and even any parents that may be in the school. Many teachers use model respect to their students daily and many teachers use specific respect activities in their classrooms in their day-to-day teaching  and have done it for years.

If your older students in the school show respect to each other, younger students will definitely begin to take notice. As younger kids began to learn from their older role models, they will begin to see respect as the norm. Situations and incidences which do not show respect will begin to be seen as highly unusual and unacceptable. All of these steps, of course, take time to initiate. In some schools it may take months, others may take years, while still others could possibly take decades in order to make these kinds of profound changes.

There are a number of tools which can help speed up this change so the transition can begin to take place sooner. The following activities will help to grow respect and to compound the effects:

1/ Form a student group which focuses completely on posters, announcement reminders, and other methods of awareness to help remind students and staff about the goal of achieving respect.

2/ Run special spirit days throughout the year which will help you get people on board in a fun way. Examples are: pink shirt stand up for respect day, be kind to someone day, pass on a smile day or respect activities workshop day.

3/ Special assemblies can also be a great way to help lift the spirits of the student body, and get everyone working in the same direction.

The above ideas for respect activities are only starters, but once you begin, I believe you will be moving toward a most worthwhile destination — achieving a climate of true respect in your school.

Bruce Langford presents anti-bullying and respect workshops internationally. www.StandUpForRespect.com 

 

5 Reasons Why Your School Needs Anti Bullying Programs

anti bullying programsSchool anti bullying programs can make a profound impact on their audience. An antibullying program can be a one day initiative in the form of a theme-based assembly. Anti bullying programs can also be a series of events to raise awareness of bullying prevention in your school. An anti-bullying program is an initiative of some type that raises awareness of the topic. By the time you have finished reading this blog post, you will know exactly why your school will benefit from having anti bullying programs.
1/ Liability
Can you imagine how a parent of a child would feel if their child ends their life as a result of a bullying situation at your school? Any one of us would be devastated. One of the first questions asked is, “What anti-bullying initiatives had the school undertaken in the past few months or so?” Make sure the answer to that question is, “Yes, within the past year we have been active with this specific anti bullying program.” Did we do the program just because of liability issues? No, of course not, but the fact is that liability is a real issue in today’s society.
2/ Momentum
Energy packed school anti bullying programs encourage student participation and will help the student population gain momentum toward action. They will identify the need within their student body for bullying prevention efforts. They will be motivated to act on that need so that they can make a difference with their classmates and in their school community.
3/ Perception
Perception is reality. Have you ever heard this phrase? Students, staff and parents must believe that your school cares about bullying prevention within its walls. Your school may have great initiatives in place to deal with bullying, but if the general perception is that bullying is not a priority, then as a teacher or administrator, you are going to have a difficult time changing that perception without having anti bullying programs in place.
4/ Focus
Do you sometimes feel like your school is lacking focus or direction? Many times students, teachers and parents can have this same feeling. Bullying prevention must be a central initiative. After all, bullying is conveyed by the press as being a major issue, and as an educator or student, you know that it is a major issue. Students, staff, administrators and parents must all be focused on the topic of bullying in order to make a change to the culture. They are many ways to create focus, but one powerful way is to have meaningful anti bullying programs in place which will bring to the forefront the importance of this major issue.
5/ Cooperation
You will be amazed at the effect of one single powerful anti bullying program. If done properly, students will begin to see a need for cooperation and they will start to work together to create a sense of community. Cooperation is a goal schools are constantly striving for, and the best way to achieve it is to motive students and staff by helping them understand that they can make a difference.

These are only five reasons why your school needs to have anti bullying programs in place.
Contact ‘Stand Up Now Productions’ at www.standupnow.ca to find out more about our school anti bullying programs.