Helping kids develop healthy social skills

Bullying is a hot topic these days. We all seem to agree that being bullied is a bad thing. It is a bad thing, I’ve been bullied so I don’t take it lightly. What we can not seem to agree on is what bullying is. I’ll try to shed some light on this, so we can have a healthy conversation with our kids about this important topic.

Kids need direction from us to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. That means if we, as adults, are confused about a topic, then kids are even more confused by it.

For example, right now it’s common to label any instance of one person being mean to another as bullying behavior. Someone who makes mean or insensitive comments and physically acts out towards others is a bully right? In order to understand that we have to have a solid understanding of the word bully and agree to a definition.

Words have meaning

Webster’s Dictionary puts it this way:
abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully.

The US government takes bullying seriously enough that they have a website to help explain it. I think it is does a pretty good job. https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html

Now that we have a working understanding of the definition of the word bully, the hard part starts.

What bullying is NOT becomes the next question. Along with how to stop mean behavior before it is escalates that far.

So far we can see that bullying has to do with power between two people. So what happens when misunderstandings occur? Often hurt feelings arise and kids don’t know how to deal with that. Let’s face it, adults don’t always know how to deal with that. So what happens when a child or person, acts out because they are hurt? It can look an awful lot like bullying.

Let’s be clear though. A single instance of mean behavior is NOT bullying, but it can lead to bullying. Kids, just like adults want some control over themselves, their surrounds, and yes other people. Kids figure out pretty quickly that certain words, and certain actions get them what they want.

What they haven’t figured out is that the world does not in fact revolve around them. This is the real cause of misunderstandings. The combination between wanting control, and not understanding that things happening might have nothing to do with them personally.

So what can I do about it?

Here is what I propose. We need to teach kids how to navigate social situations, this means helping kids figure out how to make sense of their own feelings. Only then can they understand the feelings of those around them.

Let’s teach kids that the power of “WHY” doesn’t just extend to driving mom, dad, and teacher’s crazy. It has a real purpose in figuring out how to interact with each other.

“Why” can help us weed out true bullies, from misunderstandings that got out of hand.

“Why” can help us develop empathy, and connect with the people around us.

First, get in the habit of asking yourself, then your child, “why” someone might behave a certain way. Are they tired? Are they mad? You don’t know then ask them. If your efforts are met with more abuse then you have a bully on your hands. Maybe, just maybe, you will find a misunderstanding is the source of mean behavior. “Why” has just become an olive branch.

Finally, the most important step, talk with your child about these difficult topics. Find out what they think. Modelling healthy relationships, is great, its big, but it doesn’t replace conversation. Kids need to know they matter, and they feel that the most when you talk to them.

How to start

Don’t know how to bring it up without feeling awkward. Well, I wrote a book that helps with that. Check out “Bubbles and the Berry Bush” here on amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998711209/?tag=smarturl-20

I hope this was helpful. Please remember that I don’t know your situation and I don’t think that bullying is ever acceptable. I do believe that misunderstands happen and we need to learn to identify them. Kids need to know that their parents are listening and care about what is happening in their lives.

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From Fear to Now

Have you ever sat at church and felt like every lesson is directed straight at you?

I find it happens the most when I am arguing with God about something. It isn’t always about a conflict in my life, just a direction I am fearful of. Sometimes it is during a difficult time, making the fear even worse. When will I learn that God’s timing is always perfect, while mine is so flawed?

All of these things came to me while listening to a lesson on growing in Christ. We were talking about not standing still in our faith. We are called to grow and mature. After the lesson, my children joined me in my pew. I looked at my three girls and knew that I could no longer live in fear. Instead, I wanted to set an example of living my faith.

I went home that day, and the conviction grew.

Have you heard the phrase ‘running scared’, or ‘paralyzed by fear’, I think we all have. Strange as it may sound, they both represent standing still in life. Everyone else is moving forward and you– you’re afraid to make a decision. If you do make a, the decisions you make take you far away from where you need to go. Fear can paralyze you, spiritually and emotionally. It’s like the world is on fast forward and you’ve hit pause, then you got stuck there.

I was stuck, and it was setting the wrong example for my girls. It was hurting my marriage, it wasn’t glorifying anyone, least of all God.

Some people spend their whole lives afraid. Stuck. I woke up one day realizing that living in fear was a decision. It was a decision that I made every time I gave into to fear, giving it more power over my life than any other thing. Once I recognized it, I then had a different perspective on the terrible things I had been fearful of.

You know what? They didn’t seem as scary anymore.

I admit, I’m one of the blessed. When I was lost in fear my life looked, well not normal, but good. I had already shaken the fear of not following societies standards. First I made the decision with my husband to be a stay at home mom. Then we made the decision to stay out of public school. At first we went with private school then homeschooling. My life was weird, but a good weird. Jesus carried me. d already shaken the fear of not following societies standards. First I made the decision with my husband to be a stay at home mom. Then we made the decision to stay out of public school, first with private school then homeschooling. My life was weird, but a good weird. Jesus carried me.

It wasn’t always so good. My years at school left me scared. I never felt good enough, or worthy of love. Another lie meant to tear me down and keep my light hidden.

I had faith that God would see me through to the end. Being with me during the peaks and valleys of life was not the same as seeing that I didn’t get hurt. Like many of you, I saw that as my job. I was so wrong. By being so fearful of what people could and did dish out, I held back. I could stand up and fight for you, but I kept myself hidden.

Fear is a learned reaction, I was not always afraid. Hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me, mentality. Then it hit me in the heart, those were worldly ideas. I could not be a light if I kept myself hidden. By my actions, I was passing that on as a legacy to my girls.

We are told in the Bible not to keep track of the sins against us.

We are told to turn the other cheek, to keep forgiving, just as our own sins are forgiven. These are not idle concepts. Jesus knew what he was asking of us. I needed to decide was if I was up to the challenge.

It all comes back to fear. If I want to find the freedom in life that salvation in Jesus promises, then I have to let go of that fear. If I don’t let go, then I can’t grow in my faith. I won’t really be living. I’ll still be on pause, watching as life goes by.

That is what the path to publishing my writing is about for me. It’s about living my faith, stepping out and being a light. It’s about being an example of living and using the gifts I’ve been given. The legacy I want to leave my girls, is the example of living my faith. How best to live my faith, than to use my gifts!

Follow me as I write about life forging forward through the fear.

Are you fighting the fear? If you are then know you are NOT alone!

This post was originally shared on my facebook page on November 16, 2016. It has been updated it and reposted it here on www.whimsyandpurpose.com by the Author Shannon L. Mokry.

Making the Most of My Scrap Felt

I have been making felt dolls and finger puppets for the last few months. They are super cute, but I ended up with this bag of felt that I didn’t want to toss.

“What’s your deal, just toss ’em” is probably going through your mind at this point.

Well, if it was your typical craft store felt, I would agree. I just toss it that synthetic stuff. This is something different, this is NICE felt. 100% wool felt from Felt on the Fly. I even added a bag of scraps to my order. I know I bought scraps. EEK.

So what am I going to do with those scraps? Well I challenged myself and I made a whole finger puppet with just scraps.

Some examples of what I was doing.

Notice I was using some of my scraps. This piece of green in her hair made a cute leaf. That tiny bit of green was trimmed off of a bigger piece of scrap of felt. At this rate I was going to buried under a pile of scraps! 

What I did after I challenged myself.

I challenged myself to use bigger pieces of scraps. When I did, I got these cuties.

I used scraps for the dress’s and the wings:

My next challenge.

After that, I took it a step further. I used scraps for every part of the finger puppet. This is Maeve Fairy. I think she turned out super cute.


Do you want to do something similar?

There are tons of patters available. For finger puppets, check on Pinterest (linked to my felt board) and Etsy (finger puppet fairy pattern). just pick a shape you like and fill it in. Please note, I did not use anyone else’s pattern. The hardest part may be the flesh tones, but who says a fairy has to be peachy cream colored? Have fun and share your creations in the comments!

This post was first posted at www.whimsyandpurpose.blogspot.com on October 6,2018. It has been reposted on www.whimsyandpurpose.com. All copywrite still belongs to Shannon L Mokry the author and owner www.whimsyandpurpose.com, www.whimsyandpurpose.blogspot.com, and Sillygeese Publishing, LLC.