Golden Nugget

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Golden Nugget

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So I learned about bullying first hand. Recently, when I was preparing for a talk on bullying, about relational bullying, the girl bullying, mean girl stuff, I was sitting in a coffee shop and I was working with my colleague. And my colleague left. And a woman was sitting next to me, must have heard what I was talking about and she said, “I heard you talking about gossiping and relational bullying. And my daughter, who’s young, teenager, is having this major problem.” So she said she is getting in trouble, because she’s gossiping and her friends are leaving her out. So I went through, I spent like 30 minutes with her, talking about bullying and why gossiping occurs and what it’s all about. And then her friends came in and she said to me, “Thank you very much.” I said, “It was great, I hope you got a lot out of it.” She did. She went over to her friends – I felt pretty good about myself. But when she went over to her friends, all of a sudden, she started gossiping about a neighbor of hers and getting really mean and nasty. And I thought to myself, “Whoa. I just spent 30 minutes sharing all this research and all this stuff about what bullying is about. She didn’t get an ounce of it, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She was teaching her daughter by her own behavior how to gossip.” So that’s where it was coming from. So then, as a bystander, as an expert, I’m thinking, “What do I do?” And I thought, “I can’t let it go, because if I let it go, then I’m doing nothing and I don’t train that. I have to be an upstander and do something.” She asked me to help her, so I thought I could do it in two ways – I could go up to her and humiliate her in front of her friends, which would be awful, or I could tap her quietly and have her come over and share it. And that’s what I decided to do. So I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around and said, “Yeah?” And I said, “Well, can I just talk to you for one more minute?” And at first she was a little bit uncomfortable, but she came over to me and I said, “Hey, I hope you enjoyed our talk and you learned a lot.” And she said, “Yes, I did.” “Well, there was one thing that I just noticed, if you don’t mind me sharing.” She said, “What’s that?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know if you realize, but when we talked about the gossiping problem your daughter had, maybe she had some of that influence from you, because when your friends came in, you started gossiping about a neighbor.” And all of a sudden, she got really red in the face and she said, “Okay. Thank you.” And she ran back to her friends and started gossiping about me. But, here is the point – what do we do in those situations? Do we stand back and do nothing? Or I felt in that situation was totally appropriate to let her know, because she had asked me for advice. What she did with that I’ll never know, but the point is, it’s so easy to be role-modeling things and never even see what we do. And that’s where kids learn the most, from what we do and not from what we say.
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Joel Haber, PhD

Psychologist, Bullying & Parenting Expert, Author

Dr. Joel Haber is a Clinical Psychologist and internationally recognized bully prevention and parenting expert. He was selected as a webinar leader and a speaker for the Obama Administration Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention initiative.  He was also an invited participant to the Second Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in 2011. His recent book, Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting and Bullying for Good set the bullying standard for schools, camps, sports, organizations and families dealing with bully prevention and intervention. He recently published The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive Parenting.  He is a consultant and expert to the American Camp Association, and to LG Electronics as a member of (LGTextEd.com), providing cyberbullying and mobile harassment expertise to parents and families. He is an advisor to Cartoon Network’s anti-bully campaign: Stop Bullying: Speak Up.  He is an expert for No Snap Judgments: The Addams Family Broadway Show- National Campaign to promote acceptance and tolerance amongst our youth. He is also co-founder of Tool Kits for Kids (toolkitsforkids.com), recipient of five national parenting awards for helping parents and kids develop the tools and emotional life skills to overcome worry, build confidence and develop resilience. He has written and published extensively, speaking each year to thousands of parents and educators to help make children’s lives, safer and better. 

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