Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Teach Teachers Tech: A Platform for Good

Raise your hand if you think we're experiencing a generation gap in this country.  How many of you admit that your child (even your young child) knows more about navigating cyberspace than you do -- a lot more.

Our kids are throwing themselves headlong into this new neighborhood of technology while many of us are holding on to the comfort of the old country (and things are moving so fast that email could be considered an old-fashioned way to communicate!).

Although we're catching up, our kids have raced ahead.  

We have two options on how we feel about this:  

Door #1:   total paralyzing fear


Door #2:   acceptance and embracing it as a teachable moment for both you and your child or student

(If we're experiencing this at home, make no mistake, teachers are feeling the gap, too, and there are so many benefits to using technology in the classroom.)

If you can give in and choose Door #2, I have a great tip for you.  Go to the newly-launched Platform for Good, created by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).  The teacher's site, in particular, is awesome. It introduces a concept that I totally believe in:  Make the Kids the Teachers.  It's called Teach Teachers Tech (TTT)

This is a great idea because adults need the help and kids want to show us what they know.   (In my pilot program -- Be the One -- older kids teach the younger ones about leadership and how to step up for one another.  Kids are the experts in their own worlds.)

It's ok to give up a little control.  It's ok that they're better than us at something.  It doesn't mean that they don't still need us to help them navigate but we need to know where they're going first.  It's also the best online safety tool.  I always suggest that parents ask kids to take them for a tour of their online world.  Be proud of them.  It's the quickest way to get the inside scoop...and gain their trust.

There's a lot of good in the new neighborhood.  We need to be familiar with all aspects and not just the negative ones.  If we only focus on the dangers, we'll lose out on all it has to offer.  And speaking of the dangers, if we understand the new neighborhood better, we are more skilled in steering them away from the dark alleys.

A final tip:  Be a Good Student because that will make you a Better Parent and a Fantastic Teacher.

Eureka!  The gap gets smaller.

In the words of A Platform for Good, this is your chance to Connect, Share and Do Good.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New School Year. How's it Going?

It's a new school year and for those of you who are reading this and didn't have such a great year last year, I hope things are much better this year.  Things can change.  Sometimes the mix of the students in a classroom changes, sometimes they can get a more understanding and patient teacher, sometimes they find new friends.

Whatever it is, enjoy it.

And for those of you who are worried that things haven't changed at all, I am so sorry.  This post isn't about the kids as much as it's about you.

Parents worry and worrying can make us sick.  When our kids are unhappy, it's hard to feel joy.

I often talk about being the Be the One Go-To Trusted Adult for kids but I think adults need a trusted adult, too.  Often, bullying is hard to talk about with others, even other parents.  Although you may have a good group of friends, it can be difficult to discuss it if their kids aren't experiencing the same thing.  It almost feels like you and your child are singled out.  It can be very isolating and who wants to feel like a "loser."  No one.  Child or adult.

But just as kids shouldn't feel alone, neither should the parents.  It's good to reach out to other people who can genuinely sympathize, offer perspective and some general support.

And if you're not experiencing a particular issue with bullying this year but understand it all too well, try to reach out to the moms and dads who are tied up in knots over their children's sadness caused by meanness from peers.  Sometimes it just takes a smile -- and the knowledge that you can keep a confidence -- to give other parents the energy they need to support their children and to keep pushing through.

I am sending you good wishes for all good things as this year unfolds.