Last week we announced that Erainna Winnett’s Tween Talk: A Tween’s Guide to Social Success is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Child education and counseling expert Erainna Winnett brings more than 20 years of experience in teaching, counseling, and raising children to the hot-button issues every tween faces today. Written in a conversational style and chock full of concrete steps and tips, this interactive guide helps children make a smoother transition from preteen to teen by equipping them with proven strategies for social success.Although Tween Talk was written with a tween reading audience in mind, parents, guardians, teachers, and other adults will find it an invaluable tool for supporting the children in their lives to navigate the trials and tribulations of being a tween with flying colors!
Tween Talk has chapters devoted to the following issues:– Self-Confidence– Friendship– Cliques– Conflict Resolution– Peer Pressure– Bullying
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And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
Why I Wrote This Book for YOU
I wrote this book for you. I didn’t write it for just anyone. I specifically wrote it for YOU.
You may be thinking, “Uh, how is that possible since you’ve never even met me?” Okay, you’ve got me there. I haven’t met YOU, specifically, but I’ve met LOTS of kids like you—not exactly like you, because everyone is different—but kind of like you. I’ve worked with children for the past twenty years as a classroom teacher and school counselor. I’ve even raised two of my own kids. That’s a LOT of years being around kids your age—the tweens, as you’re called. I’ve watched you tweens very carefully over these years, and I think I’ve learned quite a few things that can help you.
It’s Not That Easy Being a Tween
I’ve seen firsthand just how hard being a tween really is. You’re not a little kid anymore, but you’re not all grown up, either. You’re, well, in-beTWEEN, so to speak. And that’s a tough place to be. For many of you, your body is changing so fast, you can barely keep up with it. Some of you are well into puberty, while others of you are still wondering when it’s going to start. And that puts your emotions all over the place as well. One minute you’re happy, and the next minute you’re sad or super frustrated. You don’t know how to handle these powerful feelings when they happen, which makes you look immature to other people. It can feel as though you’re on a roller coaster, as in exciting but also scary and maybe even a little nauseating …
Then you have all the crazy stuff that happens at school—trying to be a good student in the midst of what sometimes feels like complete chaos. You’ve got some kids trying hard, others acting out all the time and disrupting the class, and maybe even a few who clearly don’t want to be there at all. The chaos can make it hard for you to concentrate!
How This Book Can Help YOU
This book is designed to help you make a smoother transition from preteen to teen by focusing on a bunch of things you’ll probably have to deal with during these tween years. I’m going to share with you the best information I have about the following topics:
If you’re not sure what some of those things are, just hang in there—you’re going to find out. So let’s get started!
Chapter 1: Behind Bullying Behaviors
What Is Bullying and How Can I Stop It?
There’s a lot of talk in school these days about bullying. In fact, sometimes you may feel as though it’s all you ever hear about! The thing is, it really is a big problem everywhere. Ask yourself these questions:
Has anyone ever picked on you?
Have you ever picked on anyone?
Have you ever been threatened?
Have you ever threatened anyone?
I’ll bet you can probably answer yes to questions 1 and 3, and you might even be able to answer yes to questions 2 and 4. Either way, if you can answer yes to any of these questions, think about how many other kids can probably answer yes to them as well. Can you see how bullying is a big problem everywhere?
Picking on kids or threatening them is a bad idea, for lots of reasons. The simplest reason is that it’s wrong! In this chapter, I’m going to show you what to do about it. If you help put a stop to bullying, that’s kind of like being a superhero, right? Just don’t start coming to school in a superhero costume … that would be a little weird.
What Exactly IS Bullying, Anyway?
Sometimes you might not be sure what bullying really is, so I want to help you get it straight in your mind. Kids your age tease each other, and that can be a little annoying, but as long as it’s just occasional joking around, it doesn’t qualify as bullying. But if it gets to be more serious and happens a lot, it might start to become bullying. One way to define bullying is this: actions that are unwanted and aggressive that are repeated.
If you are being bullied, or if you are doing the bullying, the bully is using his or her power—such as physical strength, or knowledge of something embarrassing about the other person, or even his or her own popularity—to hurt or control others, and the bully keeps doing it again and again. The problem with bullying is that it doesn’t just hurt the person right when it happens. It can actually affect people for the rest of their lives. That’s not very nice, is it?
The Triple Whammy of Bullying
There are three different types of bullying that I want you to know about. The first is verbal bullying. This is when a bully uses words to hurt people. The second is social bullying, which is when the bully hurts someone’s reputation or relationships with other people. The third is physical bullying, which is when the bully hurts people by punching, kicking, hitting, biting, or any other kind of physical attack. It can also involve destroying someone’s things. Now let’s take a closer look at each type of bullying.
Verbal bullying involves mean things being said or written about someone, which can include teasing, calling the person names, taunting, or verbally threatening to hurt him or her in some way. Ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever been hurt by something someone said or wrote about you?
Have you ever said or written something mean or hurtful to someone else?
You’ve probably heard the old saying: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Well, I’m here to tell you that is NOT TRUE. Words can and do hurt people. In fact, saying nasty things about someone can hurt him or her much more deeply than hitting the person with a stick or a stone. When someone gets hit, that pain goes away pretty quickly. But the mean words that are said live on in that person’s head, hurting him or her over and over every time he or she thinks about it. It can take a really long time for that kind of hurt to heal. And sometimes it never goes away at all.
I remember when I was a tween that a kid in my sixth-grade class didn’t have clothes as nice as everyone else’s. I think he may have come from a family that couldn’t spend much money on buying him clothes that were in the latest fashions. His clothes were probably used or handed down from older brothers. There was this one girl who would make fun of him almost every day, saying something mean like, “Hey, where did you get that outfit—from the Salvation Army?” Can you imagine how he must have felt, hearing mean things like that almost every day? If it had happened only once, it wouldn’t have been bullying, but because it happened all the time, it really was bullying, and the boy was clearly upset that he didn’t have cool clothes like everyone else.
Social bullying, also called relational bullying, happens when someone’s relationships with others or their reputation is hurt. This includes purposely leaving someone out, spreading gossip about someone, telling others to stop being friends with someone, or embarrassing someone on purpose. This kind of bullying can happen without you even knowing about it, at least until you find out it has taken place. Ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever been left out of a group of your friends? How did it make you feel?
Has someone ever said or done something thatcaused you to be embarrassed in public? How did that make you feel?
One time when I was helping out backstage during a performance of the Nutcracker, I noticed a group of girls gathered together who were snickering about something. Then I noticed another girl off in the corner by herself, crying. I found out that the girl who was crying had become so nervous about going on stage that she had accidentally wet herself a little bit, and everyone could see a wet spot on her leotard. The group of laughing girls were talking about it and making fun of her. Can you imagine how awful she felt, not only that it happened, but also that people knew and were making fun of her instead of helping her figure out what to do about it?
The last type of bullying is physical bullying, which involves a person being physically beaten up or his or her things being broken or torn up. Physical bullying can include spitting on someone, tripping or pushing someone, hitting or kicking someone, breaking or taking someone’s things, or even making rude or mean hand gestures at a person. Ask yourself these questions:
Has anyone ever taken something from you or broken something that you really liked?
Have you ever taken or broken something that belonged to someone else?
Have you ever been beaten up, or have you been the one who beat someone else up?
Here’s something I remember from growing up that I’ll probably never forget. There was a boy in my sixth-grade class who was small for his age, and another boy who was older and a lot bigger and stronger. Not every day, but at least several times each week, the older boy would walk behind the smaller boy, tapping him on the back of the head with a piece of rolled-up paper and calling him a wimp over and over. Now, the tapping didn’t hurt the boy—it was just a tube of paper, after all—but that very physical thing done over and over, combined with the name-calling, really made the smaller kid feel horrible. I’m glad he wasn’t being beaten up, but it was still a kind of physical abuse.
All these things are bullying, especially when they happen more than once. Bullying is not a very nice thing to do!
Bullying Can Happen Anytime, Anywhere
Bullying can happen at any time of day and on any day of the week. Most of the time, bullying happens during or after school hours, often right in the school building itself. It also can happen on the bus or playground and on the way to and from school. It can even happen in your own neighborhood. Bullying can also happen on the Internet, which is called cyberbullying. I’m going to talk about that in Chapter 2.
Why ARE Some People Bullies?
Both boys and girls can be bullies. There are all kinds of reasons that kids become bullies. Some of them just think it’s funny and may not even realize they’re hurting people (although some know exactly what they’re doing). Sometimes they think it will make them fit in or seem cool to others. Some just think it’s okay to be mean.
Some bullies may not think they’re being mean at all. They think they’re just being funny. Other people are laughing, so it must be funny, right? Picking on or being mean to someone is never funny, no matter what.
Do you think it’s funny when someone hurts other people’s feelings? What about when someone hurts yours?
Sometimes a bully thinks that picking on others will help him or her fit in better. The bully just wants to be liked and will do whatever he or she has to in order to be liked by a group.
Have you ever done something so that you would fit in with a group of kids? Did it involve hurting someone else?
Some kids don’t know that it’s not okay to hurt other people. Sometimes they may see other people doing it and feel as though it’s okay for them to do it, too.
Have you ever seen someone hurting someone else? Did you think it was okay, or did you try to stop the person?
Why Do Some Kids Get Bullied More than Others?
Lots of kids get bullied, and they definitely don’t deserve it. If you are being bullied by anyone, it’s not your fault, and you don’t deserve it, either. Remember that you can always ask for help from adults. You don’t have to try and fix it all by yourself.
A bully likes to feel powerful and in control, right? So what do you think some of the things are that a bully will look for to feel better about him- or herself?
Bullies look for differences. Everyone is different or unique, and bullies know this. They look for the people who are different from them, whether it’s their hair color, their clothes, their accent, or maybe even a disability such as being in a wheelchair or having a problem with speech. Please remember that everyone is different, and everyone still deserves to be treated nicely and with respect.
Do you know someone who is different from you? Are you nice to that person, or have you been mean to him or her in some way?
If you have been mean to someone because he or she is different from you, go apologize to that person and try to be friends instead. The person may not want to at first, but just keep being nice and see how it turns out.
I saw a really great example of this back when I was a fifth-grade science teacher. There was a girl who was really smart with science. She loved doing experiments and took all her science homework assignments really seriously. She was always raising her hand to answer questions, and she always gave the correct answers. Some of the other girls in class picked on her for being so into science, calling her a geek or a nerd and saying she was more interested in science than looking pretty (her hair was often a bit of a tangled mess). This constant mean treatment really had her feeling bad, even though I always encouraged and supported her in her love of science. We were about to start work on a big science project, and all the kids had to work with a partner. One of the boys in class who was very popular and also very good at science asked her if she would be his partner. I remember her asking him, “Why would you want to work with me?” He just smiled and said, “Because you and I are the best ones at science, so I think we’d make a great team.” And they did make a great team. He became a good friend to her, which was exactly what she needed.
Bullies also look for someone who is an easy target. Bullies don’t just pick on or hurt someone because he or she is different. They look for people who are easy to hurt. Maybe the person is smaller or doesn’t have as many friends as someone else. One thing you need to remember is that you do have the right to be yourself, and no one has the right to harm or hurt you. Everyone deserves respect. If you or someone you know is being bullied, ask your parents or another adult about the laws about bullying where you live. Everyone has rights.
Bullies are also more likely to bully kids who don’t speak up and tell adults what’s going on. Kids who bully tend to do it when no one else is around to see it or tell on them. If you see someone being bullied, or if you’re the one being bullied, you should talk to an adult. You can always talk to your parents about it first, but if you don’t want to talk to your parents, talk to a teacher or adult at school who you know and trust. If that adult doesn’t do anything about it, find another adult who will. Everyone can speak up and be protected from being bullied. If you ever experience bullying or see it happening, who will you talk to? Make a list of adults you know and trust.
Don’t Make Bullying Worse!
There are things that don’t help bullying, like fighting back or not doing anything.
You may be tempted to put on your superhero costume and save the day, but trying to fight back or get even with a bully never works. When you fight back, there is a good chance that the bullying will keep happening, and it may even get worse. Fighting back can also get you into trouble, especially if people mistakenly think you’re the one being a bully.
Another bad idea is just sitting back and doing nothing. You may think the bullying will stop if you look the other way and don’t say anything, but that just isn’t true. The truth is, when you ignore a problem like bullying, it will only get worse.
How Can You Stop Bullying?
If you see someone who is being bullied or you are the one being bullied, you can feel pretty helpless. You may think there’s nothing you can do to stop it, but the good news is that there are things you can do! Remember, though, that it’s not all up to you. Get other people involved. Every step, no matter how small, can make a real difference.
As I mentioned before, you can go to a trusted adult and tell him or her about the bullying. Look back at your list of five adults you know and trust. If the first one doesn’t do anything, try the next one. Keep telling adults about it until someone does something.
There are other things you can do as well. You can ask the bully to stop. The bully may not realize that what he or she is doing is hurtful to the other person. He or she may just think it’s funny. You must not join in. A bully often does the bullying when he or she has an audience. If the bully sees that no one is watching or joining in, he or she may get the message that it’s not cool and stop doing it.
You can also be a good friend to a person who is being bullied. Walk with that person to class, play with him or her at recess, and let the person know that he or she is not alone and doesn’t have to put up with the bullying. Tell the person that he or she can do something about it. Many times, kids who are being bullied think that they have said or done something to deserve it. This simply isn’t true! Everyone, no matter who they are, deserves respect and safety. It is never okay to bully or be bullied. No one deserves to have someone be mean to them.
Ask your friends to stand up with you against the bullying. When everyone sticks together, it makes a big difference! Make a list of five friends you can ask to help you stop bullying in your school or community:
Now that you’ve made your list, go to each person and ask him or her to sign a petition against bullying. Challenge those friends to find five of their own friends to sign the petition. Pretty soon, your whole school will know about it and be willing to stand up against bullying.
Even though bullying is a big problem in schools and communities, there are still lots of people who don’t know much about it. Talk to a teacher or your school principal about getting a program to educate everyone about bullying and what can be done to stop it. Learning about it is the first step!
Every small step to stop bullying helps. Yes, even YOU can make a huge difference in the way others are treated. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Ask others to help you!