Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Posts Tagged ‘bully’

Guest Blogger Faith Blitman: Bullying Behavior

Posted by Marcia on December 23, 2011

Faith Blitman, M.A. is a Psychotherapist and Certified Drug and Alcohol Assessor in Philadelphia, PA. She provides individual, group and family counseling as well as drug and alcohol assessment and counseling. Faith Blitman, M.A. and Brian Loughlin, M. Ed. work in LINKS, a family reunification program within the Family Service Association in Bucks County, PA. For questions or additional information, please feel free to e-mail either faithblitman@aol.com or bloughlin@fsabc.org.

According to Stan Davis, a school counselor and bully prevention expert in Maine, a bullying incident occurs every seven minutes. He further speculates that adults intervene in only 4% of school incidents and peers intervene in 11% of these incidents. Bullying is pandemic and can take many forms: (1) Physical – hitting, kicking, punching and shoving; (2) Verbal – insults, name-calling, threatening, disparaging a person’s race, sexual preference, religion, etc., (3) Indirect – spreading gossip/rumors, attempting to turn one’s peer group against them, shooting hateful looks, telling malicious lies; and finally, the deliberate omission of a person from their peer group with the intent of engendering feelings of rejection; (4) Cyber-bullying – sending hurtful text messages, e-mails and instant messages as well as posting injurious information on web pages and sites; (5) Reactive bullying takes place when an individual impulsively acts out of frustration, typically in response to an episode of stress. This particular type of bullying may be the most difficult with which to deal since the person behaves in the dual role of bully and victim.

The causes of bullying behavior vary from individual to individual. Sometimes bullying is learned at home and can result from a lack of supervision, warmth or attention, by reinforcing inconsistent boundaries and rules, as well as by observing parents and older siblings using bullying techniques as a means of managing conflict. Moreover, such parents tend to also incorporate emotional outbursts and physical discipline as corrective measures for their children’s behaviors. Sometimes people require learning new parenting skills since the only tools in their armory are the ones they have learned from their own parents. Hence, the cycle of bullying may be inadvertently passed from generation to generation without benefit of additional intervention and learning. Bullying behavior can also be generated when a person has been bullied by classmates and learns how to express aggression in this manner. Finally, some individuals seem to have a genetic predisposition towards bullying behaviors. Nonetheless, regardless of the cause(s), counseling can help.

The effects of bullying can be profound: damaged self-esteem, anxiety, depression, toxic shame, absenteeism from school, and rage along with a strong tendency to want to exact revenge on perpetrators. Some victims feel so beaten down from this abuse that they simply withdraw from life, relying upon alcohol and drugs to medicate their intense pain or engaging in other addictive/compulsive behaviors. Some who are feeling discarded and uncared for may become pregnant as a desperate means of securing love into their lives. Most significantly, there has been no shortage of reports in the news recently of pre-teens and teens who have been so distraught by bullying, that they saw no escape from their agony but to end their own lives.

There is yet another subset of children who have been bullied who tend to identify with their aggressors, and in contrast to the aforementioned victims, act-out their rage by joining gangs, engaging in criminal acts and frequently perpetuate the bullying cycle by later abusing their own spouses and children. Some of these individuals have been responsible for mass causality school shootings. Since the bully has markedly more power than the victim, the longer bullying ensues, the greater grows the imbalance of power.

Regardless of how any act of abuse presents itself, children need to be well-educated regarding what constitutes bullying, how they should conduct themselves if they or a friend are being victimized by a bully, and to whom they should report these abusive acts. Most researchers quickly point out that bullying behaviors remain consistent if there is no intervention. Nonetheless, when an appropriate and consistent intervention is applied, negative behaviors have been reversible. In addition, it is critical that parents, teachers, and other stewards offer validation and attempt to build as trusting and caring a relationship as possible, so children feel comfortable sharing their concerns. After all, it is every child’s right to feel safe and valued in the world, and it is up to adults to help make that happen.

What can a concerned parent do?

• Be supportive, encourage openness when speaking with your child.
• Express your concerns with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or principal (making certain to talk this over with your child before taking action).
• Encourage your child to talk to you and other adults at school.
• Ask your child’s school to educate students about bullying.
• If the bullying/victimization behaviors continue, don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling.

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Posted in bullies, bullying, Faith Blitman, family difficulties, family violence, listen to family problems, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, Parents and teens, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Was on Dr. Joel Wade’s Radio Show, KSCO AM 1080

Posted by Marcia on December 17, 2009

Last night I was a guest on Dr. Joel Wade’s radio show. He has experience as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Los Gatos and uses those skills as a Life Coach and author.

I called in early to be sure my sound was okay, and I had a chance to talk with Joel about his work and his radio show. He was very nice and it was easy to see how well he listened and how carefully he chose his questions. He had already read most of the book, so his questions during the show were completely on target and he cited specific examples from the book. We had a general discussion about parenting skills and teens, and it was interesting to learn from his style of interviewing. It was a pleasure speaking with him.

Joel’s website is www.drjoelwade.com, and at some time in the future, he hopes to have downloads of his shows. I hope he gets that running soon! Meanwhile, check out his book, etraining, ezine and other products on his website.

After the show, I wrote and thanked Joel for being such a gracious host. He wrote, “It was a lot of fun, and a very interesting conversation. You were a fantastic guest, and I think people listening got a lot out of what you had to say. I hope that a lot of listeners visit your site and read your book – it really is an excellent book, and a great resource for parents dealing with tough kids.”

This was a wonderful experience, and if you know of someplace I can speak in person, over the radio or on TV, please contact me.

Posted in changing parent's behavior, compliment your child, confidence, entitled, estranged, family difficulties, nagging the kids, out of control teens, Parents and teens, rewarding good behavior, self esteem, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Parents and Common Frustrations

Posted by Marcia on December 1, 2009

It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? We are decent human beings, we have children because we want them, we do the best that we can do for them, and some of them, well…

People are born with personalities and inclinations. When a person is inclined to misbehave, sometimes get into very serious trouble, they’ll have to fight a lot of internal demons to stop themselves. Some can do it, some can’t. Some mature and grow out of it, some don’t.

Criminals had parents, too. Sometimes the parents were terrible and sometimes they were parents who did their best. It’s a boat we’re in as parents: you teach them good values and morals, you talk about society and the law, you coach them and try to get it through their heads they are harming themselves and sometimes others. And then it’s their decision to do whatever it is they’re doing.

I saw a news story about a woman whose kids had harmed another, and she was crying and apologizing.  She was devastated to know that her kids were capable of seriously hurting another person.  Her own family was torn apart in a public manner. I wonder if there were some troubles at home, too.  Displays of anger, drug use, whatever it was.  Or were the kids very good at hiding what they were really like?  Were the parents in denial?  Did they feel they had no control over the situation?  Were they seeking help, reading whatever they could, asking friends, family, counselors?

It makes me crazy when a teen or young adult does something inappropriate or illegal and some people ask, “Where are the parents?” The truth is that by the time they reach these ages, you have to hope that they do know better as they’re out of your sight/control for most of their waking hours.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in changing parent's behavior, estranged, family difficulties, nagging the kids, out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mara: I felt like a failure.

Posted by Marcia on September 27, 2009

As a result of writing a book about parenting troubled teens, sometimes I find myself following developments in other’s lives. I’m hearing or reading real pain, anguish, and sometimes fear.

“Mara”, wrote that she felt like a failure. Her 17 year old daughter, “Jane” is depressed, skipping school, has abandoned favorite activities, and sleeps as much as possible. They’re working with a physician to get her up and moving around, experimenting with different anti-depressants, but there are other dynamics at work.

Mara’s husband is controlling and demanding, and when he can’t control Jane, he demands Mara do so. Of course, Mara can’t control Jane, and then she is berated and treated terribly by her husband.
Every day there’s another fight, and Mara never knows who’ll start the next argument, she only knows there will be one. She watches what she says and how she acts, but walking on eggshells for years at a time is not a reasonable way to live.

Over the years, Mara withdrew from family and friends, mortified that they might discover her horrible family life and judge her. She has defined herself as a wife and a mother, and because neither relationship is working, she felt she was a failure.

She remembers a time when she was delighted to be a wife and mom, thrilled with her child, and had dreams and hopes for a wonderful, close family.

The realities of her life and the crushed dreams of a good marriage and good relationship with her child had become too much for her. Mara writes that if she could have glimpsed her future, she would never have had a child.

She read my book at a time when she needed to know that nice people, good people, sometimes find their lives spinning out of control, and there are ways to gather oneself together and find solutions to problems. She reached out for additional help and has shared the truth of her family life with her parents and siblings. Instead of judging Mara, they are helping her.

Mara is in counseling and my prediction is that she will divorce her husband, wait until Jane has completed school, and then will tell her to leave the house. As she has been examining what went wrong, what she did right, what she would have done differently, she is also learning that she did not stand up for herself against her husband or her daughter. She is developing that ability to assert herself, and that’ll help her change her life.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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