Bullying: A Proactive Approach for Parents

Excerpt from my recent article for The Five Moms Blog

The face of teen bullying has really changed over the years. It’s not restricted to the old image of a bully in the cafeteria or on the bus that calls you names to your face or picks a physical fight with you. It can be a group ignoring your child, avoiding them or acting like they are invisible. With social media, it’s even easier to bully via Facebook, texts, tweets, etc. Cyberbullies can be sneaky these days. They might hide their identity – sharing damaging photos of your child, leaving anonymous comments or targeting their victims in other indirect ways. For some teens, telling mom and dad that they are being bullied, doesn’t feel like an option. It makes it more real and they don’t know how their parents are going to respond, so they often decide to keep it to themselves.

Here are three pieces of advice:

  1. Practice assertiveness training techniques with your kids at home. It can be tied to a game, a healthy debate or a dinner conversation. Use bullying as the main topic and let the conversation naturally unfold. Starting with a question usually helps. “What does bullying look like these days?” Or, if your child wants a more private experience, encourage them to practice assertiveness in front of their bedroom mirror. Have them stare their reflection straight in the eyes as they speak. Give them some language if they don’t know what to say. Practicing NO is always a good start. “No, you can’t look at my homework.” “No, I’m not listening to you.” “No, I’m not doing that.” As they say it to the mirror, have them focus on their tone. Sometimes how you say something is even more powerful than the actual words you say. Then they can more comfortably transfer these techniques to an actual bullying situation.

To read more click here.


A Mother’s Effect On Her Daughter’s Self-Esteem

Here is an excerpt from a piece I submitted to a healthyplace.com. 

“Mothers need to be deeply aware of what they convey to their daughters through the attitudes they model about their own relationship to their bodies, their self-talk about how they look or “ought to” look, and how secure they seem in their choices. When a mother is battling low self-esteem or not even battling because she’s unaware it’s a root cause of frustration within her life, her daughter is likely to carry this burden as well. If a woman has spent her lifetime locked in a cycle of dieting, hatred of her own body and carries a sense of inadequacy, her daughter will understand that that is an acceptable way to consider oneself, although it’s not. This will inhibit a girl from feeling positively about her own body and she may even come to believe that negative talk is a way to bond with her mother or that being positive about herself is a form of unacceptable bragging.”

To read more, please click here.


Not a Perfect Ten..but Close. (A Teen Story of Self-Esteem)

I am the rare eight out of 10 on a scale of self-esteem. About those missing two points… It’s a visual thing, you know? People tell me, “Oh you have such a great figure!” or, “Oh you have such long legs!” or, “Oh, you’re so skinny!” and part of me believes them. But then I get a bad case of the “yeah buts…”

So I have long legs. Yeah, but… I have hairy arms. I think I get them from my dad, and I hate them so much!  I just want to shave them or wax them or something, but my mom says I’ll just make it worse and that my arms are beautiful the way they are.

So I am skinny. Yeah, but… I am TOO skinny. While some of my classmates starve themselves, I eat to gain weight. But I have a fast metabolism and it never quite works.

So I have a nice figure. Yeah, but… I have NO boobs. The media says I should have BIG boobs. Sometimes I look at other girls and think, Why can’t mine be like that? 

The “yeah buts” keep me from a 10 out of 10.

So where do the “yeah buts” come from? The media, I guess. Think of all the beautiful celebrities: Hourglass figures. Voluminous hair (on their heads and not their arms, of course!). White teeth. Blue eyes. No wrinkles. I know these are unrealistic expectations. I KNOW that. But sometimes I still want to experience what it feels like to have people look at me and think, Wow, she’s perfect! 

Other than the visual thing, I have good self-esteem. I have no idea where it came from. My mom and brother have anger issues and my dad just kind of goes with the flow, you know? I think looking at life positively and surrounding myself with a strong support system of family and friends helps. I try to hang out with positive people too. A lot of girls I used to be friends with were always saying things like, “Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend because this or that is wrong with me,” or, “Oh, I need a boyfriend.” Every conversation. I tried to tell them they were amazing just how they were, but some of them kept complaining. I can’t hang out with them anymore. Listening to them, I started feeling bad about myself too. It was hard, you know?

I don’t just ignore someone if they need help though. Like my friend who was depressed about her weight and contemplating suicide. Oh my God. What do you do when someone tells you that?  I asked her mom and she said she was out of ideas; nothing ever helped. So I got a group of girls together to talk to my friend and make her feel better. We’re not as close anymore, but I think she’s okay now. Another time, I asked a friend why her arm was bleeding, and she said that she cut herself over her boyfriend. I told her it wasn’t worth it; he wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t worth her time. I think she actually stopped for good. It’s just so sad, you know? That a girl would do this because of a boy.

There’s what girls will do because of a boy, but then there’s what they’ll do for a boy, right? I think boys put a lot of pressure on girls sometimes. They’ll say things like, “We’ve been dating a long time now. Things are getting boring so we need to try something new.” Or, “Well, so-and-so would do it,” and then the girl starts to feel bad if they don’t do it too. Or, “That’s the way to show affection if you really love me.” One girl in my school even sexted a naked picture to her boyfriend because he asked for it. Then he showed it to the whole school. Can you imagine? THE WHOLE SCHOOL. I felt so bad for her. It was horrible, just horrible.

I’ve had my run-ins with peer pressure too, what with my great figure and nice legs and all. Like the time I was dating this guy for only two weeks, and out of nowhere, he asked me for a blow job! Can you believe it? I told him he was crazy. And, he had texted it to me! That’s just CRAZY, right? I was like, “I don’t even know you!” I broke up with him the next day.

I am seventeen. I am a senior. I am 100% Mexican. I am more artistic than scholarly. I run track and go to work. I am an eight out of 10. Yeah, but…

Yeah, but… I would really like those other two points.