How to Bully Proof Kids using Role Play

The best defence against bullies is confidence and high self-esteem.  That’s what I did with my own kids but when I was mentoring other people’s kids I didn’t have the time to build them up.  I had to figure out another way to arm them against bullies.  So we used role playing.    

Why is role playing so effective?  Because kids learn best by doing.

Here’s what you do:  You set up a bullying scenario, write it out like a script with your child.  Then you take turns being the bully and victim.  Keep the bullying non-personal as even when acting things out meanness hurts.

Make it fun.  When I’d play the bully I’d say things like, “Do you use that thumb growing out of your forehead to push elevator buttons?”  Kinda embarrassing writing such ridiculous stuff here, but kids gobble that stuff up.

The victim role is one of calm indifference.  Not ignoring as that’s antagonistic.  Use indifference, then diversion.

Role play could go something like this:

Bully:  Does your whole family have green hair or is it just you?
Victim:  Yup, all green tops.  What are you doing this weekend?

Humour can work also but it has to come naturally to the child.  My son used humour but my daughter used indifference and diversion.

I had my first bullying incident when I was in Grade 2.  A much older student came up to my face and made fun of my last name.  I laughed right along and came up with an even funnier play-on-words with my name.  The bully was completely defeated and walked away.  Bullies are quick to move on when they don’t get the desired reactions:  fear, crying, etc.  

Were you ever approached by a bully?  How did you handle it?

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Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

How to STOP School Morning Battles

One of the most common problems parents come to me with is School Morning Battles.  It’s also one of the easiest problems to fix.  

1.  Write out a list of everything that needs to be done every school morning:  make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
2.  Put it on the wall for everyone to see and make sure the kids follow through.   

That’s it.  Oh yeah, there is one final detail that sort of makes it all work:  INCENTIVE.

Incentive can be anything from watching TV before school to playing video games after school.

Too many privileges are treated as rights.  My kids could never have watched TV, gone on computer or anything like that if their bed wasn’t made, their dirty laundry wasn’t in the hamper, etc.  They never questioned the rules as never knew any different.

But if you are setting a new set of rules, it’s going to take a bit of time.  The challenge for you is to not cave in and turn on the TV in the morning before the list is completed, or to not nag, even be willing to let them go to school in their pj’s if necessary.

My son was running late one morning so I grabbed his uniform and said, “Let’s go”.  You’ve never seen a kid change so fast while wearing a seatbelt.  We were all laughing hysterically by the time we got to school and he was never late again.

Trust that this advice is sound which makes it easier to follow through.  It’s when you start to question yourself that you get into trouble.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expecting kids to get ready for school on time to earn privileges.  

Have fair expectations and follow through.  Don’t expect a 7 year old to wash your car at 7:30 in the morning but he’s quite capable of putting on the clothes you laid out for him, eating his breakfast and brushing his teeth.  It’s amazing how quickly kids can move when they have incentive. 

Funny Story:  My then teenage son was laying around the house like a slug all day.  I suggested he get out and do some yard work.  He said, “I’m so tired Mom.  I honestly don’t even think my legs could hold me up at this point.”  Five minutes later he gets a call from a friend to go out and he sprang up off the couch and out the door quicker than I could blink.  Yup … incentive is amazing fuel.  

Happy Parenting,

Lisa.

More reading on incentives:  Chores & Money Management

How to Talk to Kids so They’ll Listen – Volume 22,317

Did you know if you master how you talk to kids you can get them to do pretty much anything you want?  Not only that but they’ll have pride in thinking that it’s what they wanted to do all along.

It’s not about obedience, but about guiding kids to make the right decisions and do the right things.  This leads to pride, high self-esteem, etc., etc.

So, how do you guide kids to choose to do the right thing?  It’s easy, you just learn how to communicate with them on their level, not yours. 

Far too much parenting advice tells parents to speak to children as if they’re tiny adults.  That drives me nuts as it’s so disrespectful.  That would be like expecting an adult to communicate on a child’s level.  Okay, maybe some do, but you get the point.

Speak to children as if they’re children.  Don’t talk down to them, just speak in their language. 

Here’s a great example of getting a defiant 9 year old to do a task he didn’t want to do:

I was running a workshop awhile back and a 9 year old boy was being very cheeky to his father who kept trying to get him to settle down and do a task.  Dad was using phrases like:

If you don’t sit still and listen there’s no TV tonight.

I told you on the way here that if you’re not good today then you’ll be in trouble when we get home.

I intervened and told the boy that he didn’t have to do the task, he could go sit in a chair by the wall, no problem.  He ran right over to the chair.  His father was upset but I whispered, “Just smile and let me lead.”  We did the boy’s task while talking and laughing and eventually the boy came over and tried to join in. 

His father was ecstatic and started to pull up a chair so he could join in.  I said to the boy, “You chose not to do the task and I completely respected that.  You’re welcome to do the next task but you’ll have to go sit back in the chair for now.  Thanks.”  Then I just continued talking to the dad as if the boy wasn’t even there.  When the boy tried talking to me I just smiled at him and pointed to the chair.  I didn’t have time to talk, I was busy doing “his” task.

The boy was kinda confused as had never been spoken to like that but because it was all so clear and definite with no room for negotiation, he went right back to the chair.  Sure enough, he ran right over for the next task.  He even waited for me to gesture for him to come back and join us.  All happy smiles, nothing negative about the interaction. 

Not only did he feel respected, but he felt appreciated and proud when he completed the next task.

If I hadn’t intervened he wouldn’t have done any tasks and at the end of the workshop the dad would’ve been frustrated, angry and embarrassed.  They both left feeling very proud of themselves.

It took a lot of coaching after that experience to kick dad of his old habits as he really struggled to let go as in his home country children are taught to obey.  It’s not like that here in Canada so the outside influences were really messing that that cultural beliefs.  The dad was trying to demand respect but learned how to command it instead which I think is way better anyway, don’t you?

The above interaction was specific to that situation but this same belief system of talking to kids in their language, very concise and direct, works with homework, bedtime and even chores.  Of course the method is changed as who’s going to look all happy to take out the garbage while the kid just sits in a chair, lol.

Anything you’re struggling to get your kids to do?  Let me know and I may use it in Volume 22,318 :).

Warmly, Lisa

Why Schools Shouldn’t be Disciplining Children

When my kids first started school I told the staff, “If my kids ever step a toe out of line, please don’t discipline them.  Let me know and I’ll deal with them.”

There were 2 reasons for this:

  1. My kids’ behaviour is my responsibility.
  2. No one’s going to discipline as effectively as I am.

Not only did my kids never step a toe out of line, but I continually got letters from teachers and principals and coaches about how well behaved and pleasant my children were to be around.

So, why should schools not be disciplining kids?  Because it’s not their job!!!  Or at least it shouldn’t be.  Kids should turn up at school polite and respectful toward others.  Manners, respect and consideration are all up to parents to teach, not the schools.  

One of my most controversial newspaper articles was, “Stop Expecting Schools to Parent”.  

I wrote that article back in 2014 and I’m seeing a shift now in 2017.  Parents are much more willing to agree that we have to stop coddling our kids and start teaching them about accountability.

You have to meet their needs and manage their wants.  You need to prepare them for the real world.  The real world doesn’t have any interested in self-entitled people.

I used to love watching a show called Bridezillas.  All these revolting brides throw fits, whining and making everyone around them miserable.  It was only funny because they were adults so I had zero sympathy for them.  But when I see kids acting like that I feel so sorry for them.  It’s not their fault, they’ve been trained to act like that by their parents.

It’s time we all start taking pride in our role as parents.  We need to raise children who have self-respect, respect for others and are just plain nice human beings.

If your kids are acting out, take a look in a mirror instead of blaming them or others.  It’s all up to you, you have total control.  

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

New Age Parenting … Toss It!

I spend so much time erasing all the new age parenting stuff with clients.

It’s frustrating as I don’t understand why it ever even became popular?  It doesn’t make any sense???

What is New Age Parenting?  There are many different definitions out there, but here’s mine:

  • Praising children for everything, e.g., trophies for doing nothing more than participating
  • Not making children accountable
  • Few or no boundaries
  • Raising self-entitled young people
  • No discipline

What happens is that kids get out of control and parents end up yelling out of frustration.  So then we have a society of new age parents who’ve tried being friends with and reasoning with their kids and are now yelling at them?  It’s all very confusing, kids don’t know where to turn.

Parents have to set themselves up as leaders.  They can still be friends with their kids, but they are leaders first and foremost.  Kids without parent leaders turn to peers for guidance.

Parents who aren’t leaders don’t get respect and they’re so confused as they’ve given their children all these choices, trophies and tried to please them.  They can’t figure out what’s gone wrong.

I heard a mom at the store say to her tween, “Why are you so mean to me, I’ve given you everything!”  She just asked and answered her own question in one sentence.  

What’s gone wrong is that new age parenting is weak and ineffective.  Even parents who get along with their new age kids often find themselves in trouble when the kids hit puberty as those kids are much more easily lead by their peers.

If you are a fair and consistent leader for your children, I guarantee you will get respect.  Once you have that, parenting is a joy, even through the teen years.  I’m not just talking about myself, I’ve helped tons of parents become leaders.  It’s a skill anyone can learn, so long as they’re ready to throw out all that new age thinking.

If you’re struggling with your kids and want help, check out my coaching page.  

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach