No Bullying Month

“I used to get A’s and B’s, but after those kids teased me and called me names, I started getting D’s. They got into my head. I don’t even like them. Actually, I don’t even know them, so why should I care what they say or think?” asked thirteen year-old Noah. “I used to walk on campus, be happy to see my friends and have fun playing sports. Now I’m afraid to walk to class because I think I’ll run into those guys. It really messed me up!”

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Noah had been a victim of bullying. Not the overt pushing, fighting or loudly calling him names; but the more covert (and common) sneaky whispers, gossip, and hand gestures that are designed to make him feel less thanIn some ways, the punches and physical jabs are easier to deal with than the sneers, whispered derogatory comments, and mean-spirited facial expressions and mocking.

How does a parent help a child like Noah? I met with his parents to get the details on what they had done and their family history. Noah had been a happy, productive student and capable athlete until this school year. “I just wanted to go Papa Bear and have it out with those bullies, but I realized that was a dead end,” admitted his father.  His mom explained, “We talked to his counselor and he changed Noah’s classes and the bullies were disciplined by the Dean, but he’s still rattled and anxious to walk on campus. Can you help him?”

“Yes, I think I can. I want to help him rediscover his confidence. I want him to develop grit, otherwise known as resilience or hardiness. We start with his mindset. Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Right now, he’s in a fixed mindset – one based on fear and a scarcity mentality. There are limited resources and there may not be enough for me. I may not be safe at school. This kind of fixed mindset often leads to lower achievement, blaming and a victim mentality. Why? because he’s stuck in react mode or in survival mode. When he walks on campus, he’s in fight, flight or freeze.”

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“We’ve noticed that. He’s been so reactive, irritable and fragile. It’s like he’s given up. We want the old, happy, relaxed Noah back,” said his mom.

“It’s possible if he’s willing to try some of the tools that will help him rediscover his growth mindset. That’s an abundance mentality that will empower Noah and help him develop, vs. the fixed mindset that keeps him stuck. Noah’s view of himself remarkably affects the way he lives. He needs a perspective not based on performance or achievement or popularity but one based on a desire to learn and a passion to grow as a person. Grit is sustaining passion and perseverance for long-term goals, in spite of challenges. It’s working hard to make your vision come true. It has little to do with talent and IQ. In fact, recent studies show that IQ and resilience are inversely related.

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I wrote G.R.I.T. on my whiteboard. “We want to help Noah develop these four qualities: Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity. Or you can substitute ‘Growth‘ for ‘Guts’ as in a commitment to a growth mindset. Brains and talent are just the starting point. A growth mindset creates a love of learning and the resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Some reasons why our kids lack grit are, for many of us, we’ve rescued them too much; explained to them too often and went out of of way to make their life too easy and comfortable. I’m not saying be mean and act like a Marine Drill Sergeant; but sometimes by doing too much for our kids, we are making them less gritty. At times we do more for our kids by doing less.”

Grit helps our kids and teens:

  • Stand up against bullies
  • Advocate for themselves
  • Develop ownership for their lives
  • Creates flexibility and bounce that helps them take on challenges
  • Move from externally-driven motivation (grades, people-pleasing, performance, etc.) to internal initiative and follow-through
  • Grow their loyalty muscle and learn to work through issues with others
  • Provides an opportunity to learn all the time – especially in failure

I like what Dr. Carol Dweck from Stanford University says, “We need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier.

Look at the 7 bullet points above to see if your child or teen could use some coaching to develop true grit. Contact me to learn more. tim@parentscoach.org   or call           805-376-3500. Let’s raise a generation with grit!

#nobullies