Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

Bully Be Gone: 9 tips to help your child deal with bullies

April 30th, 2013

If you have a kid or work with kids, then you’ve heard all about bullies. From zero tolerance to no bullying schools, it’s a big topic at school, at home, and in the media. We hear of children being pushed too far and hurting others or themselves because they were bullied.

I believe that “bullies” provide valuable learning opportunities and children with SUPPORT can grow and become resilient from these experiences.

Here are 9 tips on how to help your child learn and grow in positive ways from their experience with bullies:

1. Listen-Your child may feel like they are not being heard or understood. You may not agree with what you child is saying, however by listening to and trying to understand your child you will help them process their feelings, make choices, and learn to problem-solve. Use art making to explore feelings around bullying and allow your child a safe place to process their feelings without judgment.

2. Don’t jump in to rescue (unless it’s a safety issue)- Safety can mean psychological or physical. If you feel that your child safety is at-risk, then intervening is paramount. Otherwise, allow your child to problem-solve and brainstorm possible ways of handling the situation. You can use the art making process to explore choices and options. If you quickly intervene, then your child may begin to feel like they are incapable of making decisions or handling difficult situations (which may create a whole lot of enabling behavior in the future).

3. Let them know you’ve got their back- After exploring their options, if what they try doesn’t work, you can look at other options together. If the situation escalates let them know you’ve got a plan of action.

4. They may be embarrassed, and that’s okay-If the situation escalates don’t allow your chid to go at it alone, no matter what they say. Kids sometimes don’t want you to intervene because they are afraid it will only make things worse or that they will be embarrassed. Again, if it’s a safety issue, or they have tried to change the situation and it has not gotten better, then it’s time for you to step in and contact the teacher or school administration.

5. Watch your child’s behaviors- If you notice your child shutting down or withdrawing, or their grades slipping, it’s an indicator that something is going on. Look for subtle cues that they are having trouble coping and don’t ignore the chronic statements about hating school, find out what’s going on.

6. Sometimes you just got to look at other options- I’ve seen many children who stay in a negative environment without support, and they start to shutdown. All of a sudden they are depressed, anxious, or getting into trouble. These kids have expressed that they can’t handle a situation in so many ways, and they feel like no one is hearing them. Perhaps the environment can’t be fixed, or the administration is unwilling to make changes, or your child’s attempts to assert himself/herself has only create more bullying. It feels like you’ve tried it all, nothing seems to be getting better and it seems to be getting worse. It’s time to explore other options.  Explore what other academic choices, what environment does your child thrive in, how can you empower your child, and how can you address the underlying issues so that it doesn’t become a reoccurring pattern wherever they go.

7. Create opportunities for empowerment-Bullying and bullies trigger fears and inadequacies , help your child learn how to manage their fears and develop assertiveness skills by building competency and mastery. Help them learn how to manage smaller difficulties by introducing your child to developmentally appropriate tasks that challenge them. Explore sports, learn new skills, attend new places or camps, and help your child learn how to overcome challenges with support and encouragement. The art making process is a great way to develop coping skills and build mastery.

8 Build social skills- Some children who are bullied have a difficult time fitting in socially. They may be socially immature, or have a hard time making or keeping friends their age. Again, look for situations where they can develop skills socially and learn how to cope with frustrations, manage transitions, be flexible in a fun and supportive environment.

9. Explore therapy- With so many therapists teaching skills today you’ll likely find someone who can help your child with their feelings and behaviors. Therapy is a great place to try out new skills, learn how to adapt and change, and safely express feelings. Many children who have been bullied carry emotional scars and talk about these painful experiences years later. Provide your child with a safe place to process and move through their feelings so they can make positive changes (and seek out positive relationships).

Children love learning, so tap into their natural curiosity and creativity to help them develop the skills they need to say buh-bye to bullies. Need some more support? Join us on the IPPC Q& A call, May 7th. Get your questions answered LIVE~ Click here to learn more


3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen

November 1st, 2011

Does your child have trouble listening to you? Are you feeling like a broken record, asking again and again for what you want, and feeling like you are being totally ignored? If you’ve asked for what you wanted and everyone in your household seems to ignore your request you’ll likely get to a point where you begin to wonder, “why isn’t this working, why aren’t they listening?”

You may begin to get to a boiling point, get mad, throw a fit,  threaten, just give in and take care of it yourself, or complain about all that you do for everyone in the house. What you’ll likely find is that when you reach your boiling point and react (or just take care of it yourself while silently resenting your family members), others may for a short period of time take notice.  Heck, you may even get your teen (or husband) to listen and pick-up their underwear off of the bedroom floor if you yell loudly enough, AND….

…you may be creating a pattern of negative behaviors to get your needs met. So your children and spouse continue to ignore your requests and pleas until you blow your top, then all of sudden they are listening,  responding quickly and wondering, “What’s up with mom ?”

We know that children model their parent’s behaviors, so the last thing you want to teach your child is that ignoring and then overreaching is a healthy way to communicate. The best way to teach your child to listen, respect your requests, and to communicate in healthy way is to learn how to communicate your wants and needs in a healthy manner first.

You can use creativity to get back into you parenting authority, and here’s a way you can do so. Create an image of something (or someone) that represent being empowered, strong, assertive, and clear. Take a minute to see what pops up for you. Now embody this! Wear it like a cloak and ground yourself in this image. When your child or spouse wants to “hook you into an argument” or they are ignoring your requests, connect with this empowering image before you respond. You’ll respond from a centered more calm place; then you can use the 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to ask for what you need! You can take this exercise even further and create an image of this and put it in a place where you’ll see it often as visual reminder of being in your parenting power.

Drum roll please….I’m going to share with you my 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen.

  1. Validate your child’s feelings
  2. Use the assertive triangle to state how you feel and what you need. I teach that technique in the free audio-telesemiar  Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff) and you can access in the box above.
  3. Be clear of consequences and follow-through

Here’s how it might sound. You come in to your teen’s room and it is a mess and you’ve ask them to clean it and they are on Facebook with their friends.

“I understand that Facebook and connecting with your friends is important to you and it’s upsetting to get off the computer when you want to be on it. When I walk into your room and it’s messy and I asked you to clean it I feel upset and disrespected. Please pick-up all the clothes off of the floor and put them in the hamper and remove the dishes from your room by 9:00 pm tonight. If you choose not to then you will not be able to use the computer tomorrow.”

DONE! This is no need to lecture, no need to yell, not need to threaten, you have clearly asserted you needs, set reasonable expectations and consequences and given your child a choice. So there is no need to go on and on and lecture them (doing so you’ll lose your parenting authority).

This must be done in a neutral tone being in your parenting authority, so your child does not hook you and get you to react! Embody that image you created and operate from this calm- empowered place and you’ll be modeling for your children and spouse how to listen respectfully.

Have you tried different ways to communicate, but your child or spouse is still not listening?  We can help!


Do You Rescue Your Child?

September 20th, 2011

How much support does your child need?

If you have a relationship of any kind, with a spouse, friend, parent, or child, then you have encountered someone else making a decision you would never dream of doing. There is pain seeing that person making a choice your know in your heart is just not the “right” decision for them. Ironically, the closer we are to the person, the more we believe we know what’s right for them, and often we will make comments or demands upon them, based upon our knowing what’s best.

We would never dream of telling our co-worker what they are wearing is wrong and they should change, yet it becomes almost a duty to be hypercritical about what our spouse or children are wearing or doing. Often when tasks that are delegated to those in the household are not completed, we jump in to do it.  Heaven forbid your child wear wrinkled clothes to school because they left their laundry on the floor.

Most parents who rescue fear what others might think or that things won’t get done exactly right, or if they don’t control the situation their child may fail or get hurt.  Most people rescue because they love those around them and they don’t want to see them hurt. However, rescuing sets up a whole new set of problems.  The person you rescue doesn’t get to learn from their actions.  They don’t learn how to self-correct, or make changes when they are off course, since they have had someone doing that for them.  They don’t learn how to overcome obstacles and when they do arise (and they always do) they are unprepared.  I’ve had many young adults in my office who just didn’t know how to handle tough stuff because their parents did it for them when they were growing up.

The question that most people ask is how do they know when to intervene.  The first question to ask, is it a safety issue? Meaning if you don’t intervene will someone get hurt physically?  If it is a safety issue, step in and set a boundary.  All other issues are not black and white. I love to challenging parents to talk out the choices and consequences with their children. For tasks such as homework and household chores personal accountability works wonders.  Have a neutral discussion (without getting emotional about the topic) and develop a contract to help identify what will be done and what are the consequences. Contracts do work, when they are done right, meaning they are respectful of each person’s needs and there is an incentive to change for both parties.

For things such as bullying at school or children who are having emotional problems a more supportive role is necessary.  Parents often step in too early and attempt to stop bullying, which may cause more social problems for their children.  Brainstorm with your child solutions, allow them to test some out before you become involved.  If things continue to be a problem and it becomes a psychological safety issue, there may be a need for more direct involvement.

Encourage your child to take part in choosing their consequences; if they have done something wrong, ask them to come up with the consequences. You’ll be amazed at how they will learn from this, with less tantrums and more personal accountability.

Here’s the important part to remember, those who rescue others become resentful.  They will do, and do, and do, and then finally get upset that everyone treats them disrespectfully and takes advantage of them.  Stop the cycle of rescuing so you don’t fall into this pattern, and you allow others an opportunity to learn.

Here’s a creative activity to help you identify times when you rescue.  Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  On the left side write the word rescue and on the right side write the word support.  Fill in the page with images and words of times when you rescue (what you say and do) and what it might look like if you supported that person instead.

When you become aware of your tendencies to rescue then you can choose other ways you can support your child and other family members.  If you or your child is in need of more support we can help. Click here to schedule your complimentary support consultation.


Online Predators, Cyberbullying, and Sexting: Creative Strategies to Keep Your Child Safe Online.

August 5th, 2011

Are your worried about your child’s exposure to violence and age inappropriate media? Are you concerned that they may be exposed to images and information they are not ready to handle? Are you concerned about your child being cyberbullied or joining others and using technology to bully their peers? Are you scared that an online predator may be interacting with your child? You are not alone.

  • Three out of four children (77 %) ages three to seventeen used the Internet at home. -Child Trends Data Bank
  • Thirty-four percent (34%) had an unwanted exposure to sexual material — pictures of naked people or people having sex.- Crimes Against Children Research Center
  • 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services.- eMarketer
  • One in seven youth online (10 to 17-years-old) received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet. -National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Only approximately 27% of children who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent or adult. – Crimes Against Children Research Center
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.-i Safe Foundation
  • Over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs. -i Safe Foundation

Invite Dr. Laura Dessauer to share with your agency, organization, or school her dynamic presentation:

Online Predators, Cyberbullying, and Sexting: Toto We’re Not in Kansas Anymore! 5 Creative Strategies to Keep Your Child Safe Online.

Do you think your child is too young to be exposed to online violent and sexually explicit material? Statistics suggest your child may be exposed to negative influences of online media at an early age!
This presentation will cover specific creative strategies you can implement in your home to improve your child’s online safety.

To book Laura to speak contact or call (941)540-8498.

Can’t book Laura to speak, but you want some online strategies to help your child? Click here to read more:

“All Hail the Queen!” What other organizations are saying about speaking events with Dr. Laura Dessauer

“Thank YOU so much for joining us and for sharing your knowledge and energy with us. As I was collecting papers at the end, several  women told me they found you to be a great speaker, they wanted more, and  they’d love to have you back! As I mentioned, you’d come highly recommended and the praise was certainly warranted! Our members left with great tools – not just for the children, but for the parents as well! The quality world exercise really opened my eyes to my children’s perspective and that is a valuable gift you’ve given to my family. Thank you!!” —Chantal Wilford, Leader, Sarasota Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network

“Great workshop! Laura is definitely a wonderful resource for Forty Carrots to use. The message we can give to our parents is that through art, we can connect with our children in many ways. Parents can model how art can be used as a self-soothing tool. It is also another way to “play” with children, which is a message we send already. Instead of thinking about art itself, Laura focuses on how to use the ‘process’ of art to help connect families.”— Parenting Educators at Forty Carrots Family Center

“I just wanted to say all of the moms loved your presentation, “7 creative ways to get control of your kids so they learn how to positively manage their behaviors and feelings, and you stay sane!”. It was very helpful and informative. We really appreciate you sharing the creative parenting tips and tools. I can’t wait to start practicing them with my family. You were truly awesome.” —Heather Tyler, MOMS Club of Manatee

“As you can see from the feedback below on your two conference sessions, your workshops were very well received! In addition, one of the directors at the conference made a special point of telling me how much she enjoyed your class.” -Mary Wolf, M.Ed. Director of Quality, Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County

About Dr. Laura Dessauer:

Laura Dessauer, Ed.D, ATR-BC is board certified art therapist with a doctorate degree in counseling psychology working with families for 23 + years in over 21 school districts. She is the author of the forthcoming book, I’m Not Crazy I’m A Mom: How to Keep your Sanity While Creatively Raising Confident, Compassionate, Responsible Children. Laura’s work has been included in Parent’s Magazine, eHow Parenting, YourTango, FoxNews, PBS This Emotional Life, Working Mother, Head Drama, Gal Drama, and she blogs for Psychology Today. Laura is recognized as an international presenter, esteemed clinician, author, and her business, the Creativity Queen, LLC, was the winner of the 2007 Small Business of the Year Award (SCORE).

To book Laura to speak contact or call (941)540-8498.


5 tips so your child doesn’t grow-up to be a jerk, brat, or bully

July 28th, 2011

I’ve been reading about about the recent no-children restrictions on airplanes and in restaurants. I think  it’s an extreme response and feel that social situations are an opportunity for children to learn how to manage their behaviors in public and to develop social relationships, even when things don’t always go their way. Pick child-friendly venues such as water parks, the playground, family restaurants, the beach, or even at home in the playroom as opportunities to help your child learn appropriate social skills.

Many parent’s fear that their child may be left out or rejected by their peers or worry that their child’s behavior is not “normal” or typical. I want to share with you tips and strategies I teach parents and children during our child therapy sessions. These 5 tips will help your child have social success so they don’t grow up to be a jerk, brat, or bully.

1. Set boundaries: Your child needs to be told “NO” and as a parent it is important for you not to give in when they start to whine and beg. So when you go to the grocery store and they start to whine that they want a candy bar before dinner and you say “NO” watch how they respond, and what you do. If they blow their top with a melt-down do you give in and give them the candy bar so you’re not frustrated and embarrassed? What lessons are you teaching your child (hint: have a fit and you’ll get your needs met).

2. Give consequences: Children learn through experiences and every experience is an opportunity to learn how to cooperate, be flexible, and respect others. When your child acts out in a way that’s inappropriate think of it as a learning opportunity. For example, when your child grabs a toy and hits his sister, what do you do? If you ignore it then it sends a message that the behavior is okay, if you grab your child and yell you send a message that it’s okay to yell and grab. So think of consequences that can help your child learn new behaviors, such as speaking with your child and letting them know that their behavior is not acceptable and that the consequence is he will not play with his sister or the toy (be concrete and specific). Make sure the consequence is immediate and it is related, especially for younger children.

3. Do you rescue: When your child has a problem to you jump in to fix it? Yes, parent’s want what’s best for their children, but if you are always trying to solve their problems how will your child learn to deal with difficult situation? Ask them questions on how they could handle the situation and what they could have done differently and allow them an opportunity to explore their choices.

4. Watch your behavior: How do you respond when you get upset and things don’t go your way? Kids model their behaviors from the adults in their lives, so don’t expect your child to be calm and respectful if you are flipping another diver the bird or being rude to a sales person.

5. Create playing rules using this creativity activity: Brainstorm together with your child and have them come up with a list of positive behaviors or things they should do when playing with a friend or sibling. Then have them write the words and/or make images (depending upon their age and developmental stage). You can use markers, magazine picture, and words to reinforce the rules. Post these up at home or in the playroom and whenever your child starts to stray from the rules prompt them with a reminder “what are the rules” and give them an opportunity to self-correct. Your child will feel more invested in remembering and implementing the rules when they have taken the time to create and illustrate them.

These 5 tips will help your child create social success. Practice these with siblings and peers in locations where if your child becomes upset or overwhelmed you can help them manage their feelings and behaviors. If your child has difficulties managing frustrations and behaviors they may need additional support, and child therapy can help.

Are you worried about your child social development? Are you fearful that their social behaviors are not typical? Are you wondering if your child needs therapy and more support? We can help! Schedule a Complimentary Child Support Consultation and find out how we can help your child be socially successful.