Read a guest post from Ryan!
Hi. My name is Ryan Shea. I am an elementary school counselor and have been in education for 15 years. I've been a counselor at my current school for 4 years and spend almost all my time in classrooms teaching character education, such as: cooperation skills, self control, respect, manners, self-esteem, and many other lessons aimed to help young students feel positive about themselves and their peer relationships. I am in 5 classes per day for 45 minutes each, so I'm very lucky to have that much positive student contact; the kids love their counselor time. We also sing "I Like Me" songs while I play guitar at the end of most lessons.
The most important pieces of my curriculum are the bullying and teasing lessons. I use a program called, "Be Cool" by the James Stanfield Publishing Company. Each grade level gets their own lessons for the year. We cover: handling criticism, teasing, bullying, and anger. I like this program because it has a very simple way to present the material to kids: DON'T BE HOT, DON'T BE COLD, BE COOL!
From my experience, I have noticed that most kids cannot handle other difficult kids and just give up and let the bully have control. With the "Be Cool" lessons and some material I use from "Bullies to Buddies" by Israel C. (Izzy) Kalman, MS, students learn how not to react when dealing with difficult students.
For example, if a student is getting teased and always reacting HOT, (mad) or COLD (sad, giving up) the teasers see exactly what they wanted. Kids tease to get a reaction, and showing Hot or Cold gives the bully/teaser power. On the other hand, reacting COOL shows the bully/teaser, that you are not bothered by their remarks. Kids who tease want a Hot or Cold reaction; they just want to make you mad or sad. If they stop getting the reactions, most times, they move on to find someone else who will not act Cool. Being Cool towards a teaser says that harmful words do not bother me, so go find someone to bug.
Easier said than done though. Kids really have to practice being Cool. Once a student shows any sign of Hot or Cold, the teaser will see it as a "win."
I tell my kids all the time to treat teasing like a game (a mental game). If you show Cool, by not giving a reaction of Hot or Cold, you win. Bullies hate to lose. The more a bully loses because you showed Cool, most of the time he moves on. I do tell my kids though that any physical action cannot be ignored and must be brought to the teacher. I'm stressing the teasing words, and at my school, it's mostly teasing, so being Cool is a great response to learn towards difficult kids.
Examples of being Cool can be many things: walking away, simply ignoring the annoying student, saying, "Thank you" and walking away or continuing your project. Basically, kids really have to just stay calm and think about how NOT to react, because showing Hot of Cold will make the teasing worse. Teasers pick up on those emotions quickly, so understanding non-verbal language is important, which is another area I teach to my students. DON'T BE HOT, DON'T BE COLD, BE COOL! is easy for kids to understand, but still takes practice and the choice of how not to react to a difficult person.
Thanks Ryan! I appreciate the skills that you are illustrating to handle a bully! This is a subject that really needs to be addressed and I am happy to have you here letting kids and parents know how to act, not react.
I have the opportunity to work in a Jr High lunch room. I see the effects in the behavior of kids that have been bullied. It is heart breaking. These are skills that I plan on using with my own children.