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We have an amazing guest this week on the Parenting Bytes podcast who tells us how to stop bullying. Seriously. And it’s the opposite of every anti-bullying campaign out there.
Would you rather have a transcript of the episode? There’s one at the bottom of the post!
How to bully-proof your child
On our latest episode of the Parenting Bytes podcast, we have a great interview with an author and psychologist named Izzy Kalman. You may have heard of him, because a recent New York Times article about his book, Bullies to Buddies, spread around Facebook like it was on fire.
This might have been the most present I’ve ever had to be in an interview. Mr. Kalman had me roleplay with him, to demonstrate how he teaches kids to bullyproof themselves. So I can tell you first hand, it’s effective.
Mr Kalman’s technique is at the same time brand new and also common sense, but everyone from schools to the media has been telling us for decades how to deal with bullying, and it’s the opposite of Mr. Kalman’s advice. And yet, the American bully problem has only gotten worse.
Or has it?
According to this study, which analyzed several large surveys about bullying, all forms of bullying have been on the decline over the past few decades.
So if the bullying statistics show that the problem is getting better, why does it seem like it’s actually worse?
Well, according to the CDC, “Youth who report frequently bullying others and youth who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior”
In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death (behind accidents) for kids 10-14 and young people 15-25. And unlike bullying, suicide rates are rising, at an alarming rate. Suicide rates are now at the highest they’ve been in 50 years.
Mr. Kalman’s theory is that we’ve been teaching kids to take their bullies’ taunts seriously, and that has made the problem much worse. And while no causation has been found between bullying and suicide, the rising rates of suicide combined with an increased media focus on bullying have combined to form the impression, real or not, that bullying is causing kids to kill themselves. And that has everyone in a panic about what to do.
Why kids bully
So why do kids bully? The simple answer from Mr. Kalman is, because they’re getting a rise out of you. I see this every day on social media among adults: fighting back against internet bullies causes them to pile on, whereas if you ignore them, they go off to find a victim who is more fun.
So the obvious answer, then, is to not let the bully get any satisfaction. But that’s hard enough for adults to do. I really don’t know how to convince kids.
How to stop bullying in schools
Mr. Kalman’s technique to stop bullying is easy to understand, but may be hard to implement. After our interview I discussed the technique with my own 15-year-old daughter, who told me repeatedly that it’s just not that easy.
But she too has been taught from the time she started school that the best way to deal with a bully is to tell a teacher. Personally, I was a victim of school bus bullying, and the last thing I ever would have done was tell the bus aid or a teacher or my parents, because I knew that it would have made the situation worse. But this is what we’re teaching kids these days, to get an adult.
What if instead, she’d been taught for the past ten years how to deal with bullies herself?
This is what Mr. Kalman teaches.
Izzy Kalman’s bio
Izzy Kalman, MS, is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and psychotherapist with four decades of work experience. He has developed a quick, fun and powerful method for teaching people how to solve interpersonal problems, including bullying, without anyone’s help and without getting anyone in trouble. He is director of Bullies to Buddies, Inc, creator of the website, www.Bullies2Buddies.com, and author of a book for young adults called Bullies to Buddies: How to turn your enemies into friends, as well as a number of other publications on bullying for kids and adults. Izzy writes a Psychology Today blog called Resilience to Bullying, and has been the world’s foremost critic of the anti-bullying movement, warning since the Columbine massacre that the “war against bullying” will backfire. History has been confirming his predictions.
More than 50,000 mental health professionals and educators have attended Izzy’s full day seminars on bullying and anger control. His articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals, and he has presented at many professional conferences. He is a sought-after expert on bullying for radio and TV shows.
This Week’s Links
Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends, by Izzy Kalman
Interview with Izzy Kalman (00:02:53)
How to Bullyproof Your Child, by Estelle Erasmus — NY Times
Resilience to Bullying, by Izzy Kalman — Psychology Today
Why Most School Anti-Bullying Programs Make Bullying Worse, by Israel Kalman — The Federalist
Free Website Manual Saves Life of a Bullying Victim, by Izzy Kalman — Psychology Today
The Solution to “Gay” Insults: Freedom of Speech, by Izzy Kalman — Psychology Today
Ten Principles for Moral Discipline: Introduction, by Izzy Kalman — Psychology Today
“All Muslims Are Terrorists!” by Izzy Kalman — Psychology Today
Victim Proof School for Kids (part 1)
Victim Proof School for Kids (part 2)
Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends, by Izzy Kalman
Super-Dren The De-Victimizer, by Chari Pere, Izzy Kalman, and Lola Kalman
How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied without Really Trying, by Izzy Kalman, narrated by Lola Kalman
Bytes of the Week (00:32:14)
All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership, by Darcy Lockman
Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids, by Asha Dornfest
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Rebecca: [00:00:10] Hi welcome to Parenting Bytes. This is Rebecca Levey of KidzVuz dot com. I’m here today with Amy Oztan of Amy Ever After.
Amy: [00:00:18] Hi.
Rebecca: [00:00:19] Just you!
Amy: [00:00:20] Just me. Well, me and the guinea pigs.
Rebecca: [00:00:24] Awwww. Just the two of us. Andrea is a very important- speaking at a conference today. So-
Amy: [00:00:30] She’s off being more important than us.
Rebecca: [00:00:32] Exactly. She’s like in a whirlwind thing, she had like an SMT yesterday, Andrea’s just-
Amy: [00:00:38] She’s killin’ it.
Rebecca: [00:00:39] She is. So today on the show we- I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about bullying, um…
Amy: [00:00:49] Well because what was the point? What could you do?
Rebecca: [00:00:51] Right. What could you do. And like we’ve talked about cyber bullying and we talked about- and I- probably if we looked back on those episodes everything we said was wrong which we’re going to realize today because today on the show we are having Izzy Kalman on, he is a school psychologist. He’s an educator. He’s an author. He wrote a book called Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Our Enemies Into Friends, which when you will listen to this interview like it’s such common sense and it makes you know taking- you’re basically taking the wind out of the sails of bullies. But oh my god is it so not what we are taught to do. Taught our kids to do. No school is responding in this way. I just I was I don’t know I’m super into it. And I wish it this I’d read this you know 10 years ago and my kids were little.
Amy: [00:01:43] Yup.
Rebecca: [00:01:43] It’s amazing.
Amy: [00:01:44] It will, like, just the article- I haven’t read his book yet but just the articles that I’ve read about it will just change lives like change the way that parents teach their kids to deal with bullying.
Rebecca: [00:01:58] Yeah it’s you know there’s certain things that you encounter like sometimes it’s like tech stuff or really cool, I don’t know like curriculum stuff and I’m always like why doesn’t every school have this. This is one of the things I’m like OK. This is like a no brainer because how many bullying things do you know just in your own kids’ schools that are giant failure-
Amy: [00:02:19] Oh. Useless.
Rebecca: [00:02:19] Like Respect for All Days. Like when there’s Respect for All Day it’s nonsense and it’s so not practical and it so has nothing to do with the way kids live in the world. You know. So anyway we’re really excited for this interview. We hope you will too and just you know listen in and then let us know what, you know, experiences you’ve had with bullying with your kids because I think you’re gonna find this super enlightening and then change everything.
Amy: [00:02:47] Mmm hmm.
Rebecca: [00:02:49] So we’ll be right back with Izzy Kalman.
Interview with Izzy Kalman
Rebecca: [00:02:53] So we are back. We are joined today by Izzy Kalman, school psychologist educator and author of Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Our Enemies Into Friends. Thank you for joining us today.
Izzy: [00:03:05] It’s my pleasure to be here.
Rebecca: [00:03:07] You know this article that was in the New York Times that I think introduced your work to a lot of people who maybe didn’t know about it before really lit up the parenting sphere-
Amy: [00:03:18] Mmm hmm.
Rebecca: [00:03:18] And everyone was sharing it on Facebook. And can you talk a little bit about why you know how you came to this technique and how it’s unique from so many other approaches to bullying.
Izzy: [00:03:33] I first need to say that what I’m teaching is basic psychology. To me it’s amazing that this isn’t what everybody is teaching. The anti-bullying psychology really is a reversal of basic psychology.
Rebecca: [00:03:50] That’s so interesting.
I help the person who is asking for help
Izzy: [00:03:52] I started studying psychology in the 1970s. I began as an engineering major but after a couple of years I couldn’t stand the math anymore. But I had also been going to a psychologist at a college for counseling and I thought boy this is really interesting. You know you sit with people they talk to you you help them. This is great. So I decide to become a therapist. But I think deep down what really drove me to to become a therapist is my parents relationship. My parents were both Holocaust survivors and they hated each other with a passion. [laughter] You know each one when they were alone with me were telling me how terrible the other one was. And they seemed right. Each one seemed right. So I learned from the very early age that everybody thinks they’re the good one the other one is the bad one. When I became you know when I studied psychotherapy I learned that the person I’m supposed to help is the person who’s asking for help. If you come to me for help because you’re having difficult relationships is my job to go to those people that you’re having difficulty with and tell them, “You better be nice to Rebecca” or “You better be nice to Amy.” Is that my job?
Amy: [00:05:19] Hmm. No.
Rebecca: [00:05:19] No.
The reaction to Columbine
Izzy: [00:05:20] No I have to teach you how to handle these difficulties. I can’t- My job is not to solve your problems for you. Life is full of problems so I have to help the client. So when I started working in schools it became very obvious to me that the most common complaint of kids is that they’re being picked on by other kids. Now I understood why they’re being picked on and so in it’s very obvious why you’re being picked on. Every victim of bullying is getting upset when they’re picked on. That’s why they get picked on. So I also began using roleplaying. I discovered that by roleplaying I can be far more effective at teaching people how to solve their interpersonal problems than just by telling them what to do. So I began using roleplay. I had tremendous effectiveness, I was teaching kids how to stop being bullied. I was also teaching staff how to help kids stop being bullied instead of making the situation worse. Which is what they would end up doing by investigating interrogating and punishing. In 1999 Columbine happened and it was committed by two kids who presented themselves as victims of bullying. So the world decided we have to do something about bullying and we have to get rid of it because victims of bullying are shooting up their schools they are committing suicide. But what I saw what this field of bullying psychology is proposing I realize this can’t possibly work it’s going to make everything worse. They are taking all of the wrong things and mandating it as the right way to behave.
Rebecca: [00:06:56] And what do you mean by that. What do you mean like what were they doing that was that was probably the opposite of what they should do.
Objective harm and subjective harm
Izzy: [00:07:04] Ok two general things. I can go into much greater detail and have articles going into much greater detail but these are the two major mistakes of the anti-bullying psychology. They have gotten rid of the difference between objective harm and subjective harm. The difference between objective harm and subjective harm is encapsulated in the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” This is the age old solution to bullying and most bullying is verbal. You know if if you hit me with sticks and stones you’re causing the object of harm. You are the one who’s hurting me. It doesn’t matter what I think about the sticks and stones you are going to hurt me. If you insult me though and I get upset, who’s upsetting me?
Amy: [00:07:59] You’re upsetting yourself.
Izzy: [00:08:00] Yeah it’s completely up to me whether I get upset by your insults, so it expresses the difference between objective harm and subjective harm. The anti bully psychology got rid of the difference between objective harm and subjective harm. They’re teaching kids now, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can scar me forever.” Or words can kill me. So kids today are being taught that if they’re insulted they should get terribly upset, as if it’s worse than having your bones broken. So kids are being made the weaker they’re being taught to be more upset when they’re insulted. And if you get upset when you’re insulted they keep on picking on you. That’s why you become a victim of bullying.
Amy: [00:08:46] Yeah that’s not just for kids. I mean as someone who works online I can tell you getting upset just fuels the online bullies like you wouldn’t believe.
Bullying protocol in schools
Izzy: [00:08:54] Exactly. All wise people throughout history know this. All over the world this basic wisdom, it’s basic psychology but we’ve gotten rid of it. And the second- and I’m going to demonstrate soon how it works. That will make it more interesting and easy to understand. And the second mistake they’re making is saying if you’re being bullied you have to tell the school authorities. And you have to remember most bullying is verbal or social exclusion. Amy and Rebecca let’s say you insulted me and I tell the teacher on you and now you get sent to the principal’s office who now proceed to investigate you for bullying me. Are you going to like me better.
Amy: [00:09:37] No. Now we hate you more. You got us in trouble you tattletale.
Izzy: [00:09:40] Exactly. You’re gonna call me a snitch you’re gonna get all of your friends against me. Are you going to admit to the principle that you are guilty.
Amy: [00:09:49] No.
Izzy: [00:09:50] “Yeah I didn’t do anything, Izzy’s making it up!” or “He started with us. Why are you blaming us, Izzy is always starting with us.” So you’re going to defend yourself and blame me and you’re gonna be angry at me and you’re going to want to do something worse to me because I got you in trouble. You know if you read the articles in the newspapers about kids who commit a serious violence because of bullying it always happened after the school had gotten involved playing judge detective punishing kids, that makes all hell breaks loose. And by the way, now the best case against anti-bullying laws, like anti-bullying laws are making things much worse. The best case against anti-bullying laws is the series 13 Reasons Why. It’s phenomenal. But nobody in the world realizes that this program is really about the consequences to a community when parents sue a school because their child may have been bullied. It opens up a Pandora’s box. All hell breaks loose. It’s worth watching with a mind that this is really about what happens when schools are blamed for bullying among kids. It makes everything worse. But anyway to make it really understandable I would like to role play with you. I can do it with both of you at the same time or one of you it doesn’t matter.
Rebecca: [00:11:19] Now do it to Amy. [laughing]
Amy: [00:11:21] [laughing] Hey that sounds an awful lot like bullying Rebecca.
Rebecca: [00:11:23] Amy was the actress Thursday.
Izzy: [00:11:25] Oh Amy. Amy is an actress.
Amy: [00:11:27] Was.
Rebecca: [00:11:28] Was.
Izzy: [00:11:28] OK. Good. Now Amy I’m going to do it with you.
Amy: [00:11:30] Okay.
Roleplay one: how not to deal with bullies at school
Izzy: [00:11:31] I’m gonna play a simple game with you. Your job is to insult me. My job is to stop you. But don’t let me stop you or I win and you lose. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings it’s make believe and don’t work hard. Breathe. Give me a chance to answer you make like a conversation. Go ahead Amy.
Amy: [00:11:50] OK. I can’t believe that you come up with these stupid theories. I mean what gives you the right to tell parents how to parent.
Izzy: [00:11:58] They’re not stupid theories. These are basic psychology and wisdom.
Amy: [00:12:03] Yeah. But I mean what makes you right. You know this sounds really stupid to me and everybody else-
Izzy: [00:12:09] I didn’t invent this stuff. I’m just explaining it. Is my fault that this anti-bullying psychology is based on mistakes? It’s not my fault.
Amy: [00:12:17] Yeah but I wasn’t making the mistakes, you’re making it like I’m a bad parent because I’m doing the stuff that everybody says to do. Don’t call me stupid.
Izzy: [00:12:25] I didn’t say you’re stupid you are doing what all of the experts are teaching said you’re doing what you think is the right thing. But is it working?
Amy: [00:12:33] Yeah but I’m listening to experts, are you an expert? You don’t sound like an expert.
Izzy: [00:12:36] I’m an expert! Of course I’m an expert.
Amy: [00:12:36] What makes you an expert? What are your credentials.
Izzy: [00:12:42] I’ve been I began studying psychology in 1972. I’ve been working for over four decades.
Amy: [00:12:51] That just makes you old it doesn’t mean that you know things.
Izzy: [00:12:54] I know lots of stuff I read. I’ve gone to courses I know a lot of stuff. OK. Terrific terrific job Amy.
Amy: [00:13:01] Oh, I have to stop insulting you?
Rebecca: [00:13:02] Amy!
Amy: [00:13:02] Okay.
Rebecca: [00:13:02] You’re such a good bully.
Amy: [00:13:03] Oh thank you!
Izzy: [00:13:05] Okay. I give up. You did a very nice job you did a terrific job.
Amy: [00:13:09] Thank you?
Izzy: [00:13:11] Amy did I make that I make you want to stop putting me down.
Amy: [00:13:15] Yeah. Because you know when somebody isn’t-
Izzy: [00:13:17] Wait a sec but but Amy you didn’t you kept on going.
Amy: [00:13:20] Well I mean there are two parts to this. There’s like the real Amy who would never speak to somebody like that. And then there’s you know The Amy that was role playing. As a role player. You know I just wanted to keep going because-
Izzy: [00:13:33] Exactly.
Amy: [00:13:33] I I was pretending that I didn’t like you and I just want you to suffer.
Izzy: [00:13:38] That’s right. So in this role play that I make you stop insulting me.
Amy: [00:13:43] No.
Izzy: [00:13:43] No. It escalated and it got more more complex. Now we’re going to do it again, same game you have to insult me and don’t let me stop you.
Amy: [00:13:53] Ok.
Izzy: [00:13:54] Go. Go ahead.
Amy: [00:13:55] Really don’t let you stop me?
Izzy: [00:13:56] Yeah. Don’t don’t.
Amy: [00:13:57] Ok.
Izzy: [00:13:57] Don’t let me stop you.
Roleplay two: how to deal with bullying at school
Amy: [00:13:59] All right. So I can’t believe you’re wasting our time with these theories. They’re so stupid.
Izzy: [00:14:04] I know so many people think that what I teach is stupid.
Amy: [00:14:09] Well OK then why do you keep teaching it. I mean that’s dumb.
Izzy: [00:14:15] Because I think I have to teach it because I think the world needs this.
Amy: [00:14:18] But what makes you the person to tell the world what it needs.
Izzy: [00:14:22] I ask myself the same question, why did this fall upon me? I can’t believe it. There are hundreds of thousands of psychologists in the world and I’m the only one who happens to see this or one of the only one. It’s mind boggling to me.
Amy: [00:14:39] Well…[laughing] It’s so much harder! I lose. Like it’s-
Izzy: [00:14:47] OK.
Amy: [00:14:48] It’s so much harder to continue when you’re just basically agreeing with me.
Izzy: [00:14:54] Right now let me let me I just want to make it very clear for the audience what was really going on. Amy the first time did you hear me trying to stop you from insulting me.
Amy: [00:15:05] Yeah. But I wasn’t listening. You know-
Izzy: [00:15:07] Yeah. You were listening to me but you weren’t stopped and you-
Amy: [00:15:10] Right.
Izzy: [00:15:10] Kept on going
Amy: [00:15:10] Yeah.
Izzy: [00:15:11] But but you heard me trying to stop you.
Amy: [00:15:13] Yeah. Oh yeah.
Izzy: [00:15:14] Rebecca. Did you hear me trying to make Amy stop insulting me.
Rebecca: [00:15:18] Yeah you got so defensive.
Amy: [00:15:20] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:15:20] It was like she could see you- get such a rise out of you.
Izzy: [00:15:20] Exactly.
Amy: [00:15:23] Yeah, and I just dig in more.
Izzy: [00:15:23] Right. But that was an illusion. It looked like I was trying to stop you Amy. Do you know what I was really doing the first time.
Amy: [00:15:32] Just fueling me.
Izzy: [00:15:33] Exactly I was making you continue. I made you have a great time. I made you defeat me. I made myself look like a big idiot. Why should you stop. And this is what happens to anybody who’s in a relationship where the same person or people keeps on putting them down over and over again. The target or the victim is getting upset and defensive and angry because they want the person to stop putting them down. No that’s why they put them down because they’re getting angry and defensive and trying to make them stop. I can weigh 500 pounds if people call me fatso and I get upset they’re going to keep on calling me fatso and if I don’t get upset they’ll stop after a while. On the other hand I can be anorexic. My bones are popping through my skin. If people call me fatso and I get upset they’re going to call- keep on calling me fatso. So the real reason somebody becomes a victim of bullying is not because they’re fat or ugly or stupid or in a wheelchair. The real reason is because they get upset when they’re picked on. The second time there was also an illusion. The second time, Amy, did you hear me letting you insult me.
Amy: [00:16:45] It wasn’t- Yeah. I mean you were- it wasn’t like you really- You didn’t sound like you were insulted but yeah you were just kind of agreeing with me.
Izzy: [00:16:52] Yeah agreeing with you, explaining but I didn’t even once suggest you should stop doing it.
Amy: [00:16:58] Right. Wow.
Izzy: [00:16:59] But that was also an illusion. It looked like I was allowing you to insult me. Do you know what I was really doing the second time?
Amy: [00:17:10] What?
Izzy: [00:17:10] Stopping you.
Rebecca: [00:17:10] And she ran out of steam.
Amy: [00:17:13] That is literally what happened like when you just kept taking the wind out of everything that I said I couldn’t come up with anything else to say. It wasn’t fun.
Izzy: [00:17:21] Right. And the more you would go on putting me down the more you would feel and look like a jerk.
Amy: [00:17:28] And I have to say I see both both kinds of this play out every day on Twitter. You can see the people who are just going to get bullied for years and you can see the people who are just going to kind of shrug and move on.
The Golden Rule
Izzy: [00:17:42] Exactly. So there’s nothing new in what I’m teaching. All I’m doing is I’m putting in game form so roleplays. I always define the situation in terms of winning and losing. It makes that object if it gets the emotions out of the way. Instead of talking about bullies and victims we should be talking about winning and losing. Everybody wants to win. The bullies are winning the victims are losing. That’s why the bullies feel great and the victims are miserable. So the people in victim positions want to know how to win. So I teach them how to win I show them how easy it is. Now what I’m really teaching is the golden rule, which requires us to treat people like friends even when they’re mean to us. The first time I was treating you like an enemy for insulting me. “It’s not true I’m smart you can’t talk to me like that” When I treated you like an enemy you treated me back like an enemy. The second time I treated you like a friend and when I treated you like a friend you wanted to stop putting me down. But you could like me better and you could listen to me and you could learn from me. So what I really teach is the practical application of the Golden Rule. It’s so easy but it needs to be taught to kids.
Rebecca: [00:19:03] What about-
Izzy: [00:19:03] They’re not being taught.
Rebecca: [00:19:05] What about social exclusion, you sort of touched on it before. It’s not this verbal repartee back and forth but it’s more this girl goes to school one day and all the sudden none of her friends talk to her. Just one girl has decided everyone’s not talking to you anymore.
Izzy: [00:19:19] I first of all have to show that it doesn’t bother me what’s going on because whatever bothers me is what people are going to keep on doing to me.
Rebecca: [00:19:29] Mmm hmm.
Izzy: [00:19:29] So I take the attitude nobody has to be my friend if they don’t want me to be their friend. But then they have no power over me. So I’m not a loser. They respect me more and they’re more likely to want to be my friend. But I’ll try to find out what’s going on. But I’ll do it nicely. I’ll go over to one of the kids of the group and I’ll say, “You know I wonder what happened. It looks like everybody’s excluding me. I must have done something wrong. Do you know what?” I’ll do it nicely, respectfully, I’m not angry at anybody I’m not blaming anybody. And if I act calmly and respectably somebody is going to tell me why it’s happening. If it’s something I can fix I’ll fix it. If it’s something that’s just silly I’ll say, “Really? That’s the reason you don’t want to talk to me?” and you’ll probably go back to talking to me as long as I act respectably and it’s obvious that I’m not getting upset by what’s happening.
Rebecca: [00:20:25] So it’s really interesting because I do think this is a big thing particularly for girls usually like in late elementary school and in middle school where this exclusion happens, usually there’s one girl who is the ringleader of it. And then she just picks a person every week or they’re going to exclude it. It’s hard I think to tell your 10 year old who’s so upset that everyone won’t talk to them to like pick- to go up to someone and say hey what’s going on. Like that takes an amount of courage that I don’t know a lot of kids have at that age.
Izzy: [00:21:02] We think it requires courage. What it really requires is understanding. We need to use our brains. I have to try to understand why this is happening to me and how to make it stop. If I don’t know why it’s happening and what to do about it it’s gonna be really hard for me. But if I understand why it’s happening and what to do about it it becomes easier. Now I can do a simple- I always teach through roleplaying and I make it logical to the child. But let me act it out with you in a simple way.
Izzy: [00:21:35] You know one of the ways that kids get others or try to express social power is by saying, “You can’t be my friend if you’re going to be her friend.” So how about Amy you tell me, Izzy I’m not going to be your friend if you’re gonna be Rebecca’s friend.” Try to get me to leave Rebecca.
Roleplay three: how not to deal when a bully tells you to choose
Amy: [00:22:00] Izzy, listen. I’m sorry but I can’t be friends with you anymore if you’re still going to be friends with Rebecca. All right? Just can’t happen.
Izzy: [00:22:08] Really?
Amy: [00:22:08] Yeah.
Izzy: [00:22:10] But Rebecca’s been my friend since kindergarten.
Amy: [00:22:13] I don’t care who do you like more.
Izzy: [00:22:16] I really have to decide.
Amy: [00:22:18] Yeah. You have to choose. And if you don’t choose me then I’m never gonna talk to you again.
Izzy: [00:22:24] Oh OK I’ll choose you.
Amy: [00:22:26] Great. Awesome.
Izzy: [00:22:29] OK. Now Amy you’re happy with what I did because I chose you over Rebecca but could you respect me for my behavior.
Amy: [00:22:39] No.
Izzy: [00:22:39] Because I’m the puppet, you’re in control. It’s the person in control who gets the the respect. Do I look like good friend material.
Amy: [00:22:48] No you just look like a lapdog who will do what I say because I’m telling you to.
Izzy: [00:22:53] Yeah I’m fickle, I left to Rebecca. Maybe I’ll leave you when somebody asks me to leave you. I’m not good friend material. Now we’re going to do it again and this time I’m going to respond differently. Start again Amy.
Roleplay four: how to deal when a bully tells you to choose
Amy: [00:23:05] All right, Izzy if you’re going to be friends with Rebecca you can’t be friends with me. That’s just the way it is.
Izzy: [00:23:11] I mean if you don’t want to be my friend because of Rebecca that’s your choice but I’ll always be your friend.
Amy: [00:23:16] No no no. You have to choose. I’m not going to talk to you anymore if you keep talking to Rebecca.
Izzy: [00:23:22] I like you, I’ll always be your friend. But if you don’t want to talk to me because of Rebecca I’ll have to respect your decision.
Amy: [00:23:30] No no no. You- You have to pick! I’m not going to talk to you anymore.
Izzy: [00:23:35] I am both of your friends I’m everybody’s friend. If you don’t want to be my friend because of Rebecca you know what can I do.
Amy: [00:23:43] Fine.
Izzy: [00:23:44] But I will always be your friend. I like you I respect you I’ll always be your friend.
Amy: [00:23:49] Well I’m not talking to you anymore.
Izzy: [00:23:51] I can’t force you but I will always be ready to talk to you.
Amy: [00:23:57] Ugh. Fine.
Izzy: [00:23:58] Ok. Who, who’s who’s winning this time.
Amy: [00:24:00] You are.
Izzy: [00:24:01] Yeah. Do you think you’re going to give me up as a friend this time.
Amy: [00:24:06] Probably not because you know you’re you’re sticking up for yourself and not letting me call the shots.
Don’t give away your control!
Izzy: [00:24:14] Yeah because what’s going on you are trying to make me choose. I have to choose between you and Rebecca but if I choose I lose because you are in control. It’s really your choice. You are the one who doesn’t want to be my friend if I’m Rebecca’s friend. If I make it obvious it’s your choice, you don’t- And if you don’t want to be my friend because of Rebecca it’s your choice but I’m your friend, I’ll always be your friend. So then you have no power over me. And if you have no power over me you respect me more. But I’m also letting you know I’ll always be a friend so you have no reason to leave me. So it’s important to teach kids how to handle these situations. It’s so easy once you know how.
Amy: [00:24:56] Yeah I think for for most kids and a lot of adults they just don’t realize how much control they give over to other people willingly for no good reason.
Rebecca: [00:25:06] Right. And let’s say. But let’s say in that role play situation in the first situation where Izzy now, you chose Amy over me. And now let’s say I come to school. I have no friends. How am I supposed to respond. Like as me. You know who now in the first scenario it came to school and my two best friends now don’t talk to me because, because Amy decided 3 was too many and she just wants this girl all- She wants you all to herself. So I show up and I’m like, “What’s going on” How am I not going to just burst into tears by the end of the day or go to my teacher or like I feel like if I was like a 9 year old girl this is what happened my first instinct would be to just turn on myself. Assume I did something horrible and wrong and now just cry.
Izzy: [00:26:02] The natural thing is for you to get upset. But that’s because nobody taught you what to do about it. If you don’t know how to handle it you’re not going to handle it the right way. So when I work in a school I do assemblies with the kids and I teach them how to deal with all of the common bullying situations and then then they know how to how to deal with it. Also if I’m a counselor in a school I’ll tell the kids if you’re having difficulty come and talk to me about, I’ll teach you how to deal with it. So the kids have to be taught what to do. If they don’t- If they’re not taught they’re not going to know.
Rebecca: [00:26:41] It’s such an interesting thing to me that you said that because I think most counselors do not then empower the kid to deal with it. Most counselors either then call the bully down, there becomes a big thing. Usually also the parents are involved which I think you almost always escalates everything..
Amy: [00:26:58] Oh my God. When I was in in elementary school I was bullied and I can tell you the last thing I ever would have done would have been to tell a teacher because then the parents would have gotten involved and I know I would have gotten my ass beaten by the bully.
Rebecca: [00:27:13] Yeah.
Bullying and suicide
Izzy: [00:27:14] The counselors are doing the wrong thing today because this is what they are taught to do and required to do by law. And that’s why bullying is becoming a bigger problem. Now the percentage of kids that are being bullied is probably not changing. The research shows that it stayed pretty stable over time. But what has been changing is that the number of kids who are suffering terribly and even committing suicide is escalating.
Amy: [00:27:42] And I think that parents fuel this. Because when parents are brought into it, if a counselor were to just teach the kid how to deal with it instead of handing out punishments or making new rules the parents are going to feel dissatisfied. The parents are going to feel like the counselor didn’t do anything. Even if they’re doing the thing that will probably help them most.
Izzy: [00:28:00] Right. But it’s not the fault of the parents because everybody has been given this anti-bullying indoctrination for 20 years. This is what parents have been hearing, meaning that most parents of young children today have been taught this since they were little children, that you’re entitled to go to school without anybody being mean to you. If they are mean to you was the school’s job to make it stop. Tell the school and the school has to get the parents involved. So the parents are doing what they believe to be right but they don’t see why it’s wrong. Now people love it. This is terrific. My child doesn’t have to solve their social problems, the school has to solve the social problems for them. This is wonderful. Nobody wants to give this up even though it’s nonsense and it doesn’t work. Nobody wants to give it up.
Rebecca: [00:28:54] Wow. That is so much to think about. It’s so incredible. I mean I just, it makes so much sense when I hear you say it, when I hear the roleplaying, and it’s you know my instinct like my instinct when I was with my girls when they were young and one of them particular who got bullied was God, I wish I could just teach her to tell him this or tell him that and like I guess I should of because my instinct was always like, that, I knew why they why she would get bullied, it was because she was so sensitive and so quick to react which is what they wanted because she has this like very sensitive heart. And it was really hard to see. And she came out of it the other side. She kind of did learn and particularly at camp but I think that it is really hard as a parent. Your natural instinct is to want to intervene or to I don’t know to kind of not to gin it up but you really do want that other kid to sort of get it. You know you just-
Izzy: [00:29:57] Right.
Rebecca: [00:29:57] It’s your instinct.
Izzy: [00:29:59] Exactly. The instinct is to protect our children, to fight their battles for them, and in nature it might work or even once upon a time ago when schools didn’t get involved it might work because if you were my child then you are being picked on and I go to your bullies and I say, “You leave my daughter alone!” if I’m scared I’m going to leave my daughter alone. And if you’re a parent if your parents know that you’re picking on me they’ll probably get mad at you. Yeah. “Why are you picking on kids? You know it’s not surprising that their parents are getting mad at you.” But today if you’re a parent and you go up against other kids to protect your child you get in trouble.
Rebecca: [00:30:40] Yeah.
Izzy: [00:30:41] I’ve read so many articles about parents who got in serious trouble because they stood up to their child’s bullies and now the parents are being charged with harassment and they have to go to court.
Rebecca: [00:30:56] Yeah.
Izzy: [00:30:57] Today you can’t stand up for your child because now you get in trouble.
Rebecca: [00:31:01] Yeah it’s so much more complex. I mean look at the end of the day, it’s always better to teach your kid, to empower your kid and give them these tools because they’re going to encounter this in the workplace, particularly women right. They’re gonna encounter this all the time throughout their life in some form. And so the sooner you learn that you can take control of that situation the better you’re gonna be in life.
Izzy: [00:31:23] I’m really glad you see that.
Rebecca: [00:31:26] Well thank you so much for joining us today. This was so enlightening. This is such a great conversation. And you know-
Amy: [00:31:33] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:31:33] I hope you continue your work and spread it far and wide. We will do our part to-
Amy: [00:31:38] Yeah. I really think that this- This episode is going to be life changing for for some parents and their kids. And you mentioned some other articles that you had that could expand on it. If you’ll send those along we’re happy to link to them.
Rebecca: [00:31:49] Yeah and we’ll link to your book as well. Both- all your books.
Izzy: [00:31:52] Ok thank you Rebecca. Thank you Amy. This was a lot of fun.
Amy: [00:31:55] Thank you.
Rebecca: [00:31:56] Great. Thanks. By.
Izzy: [00:31:56] OK. Oh by the way it’s really great to do this with people who know how to act because they really do the roleplays well. Thank you very much.
Amy: [00:32:04] [laughing]
Rebecca: [00:32:05] Happy to oblige.
Izzy: [00:32:06] OK. OK. Be well
Amy: [00:32:09] Bye bye.
Rebecca: [00:32:09] You too.
Izzy: [00:32:09] By Rebecca, by Amy.
Rebecca: [00:32:10] Bye
Amy: [00:32:11] Bye.
Izzy: [00:32:12] Bye.
Rebecca: [00:32:13] We will be right back with our Bytes of the Week.
Bytes of the Week
Rebecca: [00:32:18] We are back with our Bytes of the Week. Amy.
Amy: [00:32:22] Yes. So um I am literally 15 minutes away from finishing the HBO mini series Chernobyl. As soon as we’re done recording this I’m going to go finish. It’s I think five parts and it’s amazing. I mean I was 14 I think when Chernobyl happened.
Rebecca: [00:32:46] Mm hmm.
Amy: [00:32:47] And I didn’t really understand just what a big deal it was. And a few years after that I was actually in Russia and stayed at a summer camp where some kids from Chernobyl were living year round because you know they had no place else to go and actually got to to talk to some of them. But again you know I was a teenager, I didn’t really get the weight of it. This mini series on HBO will give you the weight of it. It’s it’s fantastic and it’s got a great cast, it’s got Jared Harris you know from The Crown, he was the queen’s father which makes him the king, and Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Now, my husband does not like it. He watched the first episode and refused to watch any more because he had actually read the book Midnight in Chernobyl and I think that that just ruined the mini series for him, so I’m going to read that as soon as I’m done with the mini series. So if you don’t want to fall victim to what happened to my husband read- watch the mini series first and then flesh it out with the book because he says that the book is just incredible. So my bytes are Chernobyl the mini series first on HBO and then midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbothom.
Rebecca: [00:34:13] Wow. I have not watched that yet but it’s on my my summer list. I felt like- Is it gory? Is like do you see the people-
Amy: [00:34:21] There-
Rebecca: [00:34:21] Getting radiation burns?
Amy: [00:34:22] I mean-
Rebecca: [00:34:22] Because I don’t know if I can deal with that.
Amy: [00:34:23] There is a lot of bad skin stuff.
Rebecca: [00:34:25] A lot of Silkwood showers?
Amy: [00:34:26] You know
Rebecca: [00:34:27] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:34:28] Ugh.
Amy: [00:34:29] It does get kind of gory but it’s what happened.
Rebecca: [00:34:33] Yeah. No I know. Now it’s- I’m definitely gonna watch it. I’ll just cover my eyes.
Amy: [00:34:37] It really is a small part of it. You know I mean there are there are hospital scenes that get bad. There’s some scenes you know right after the explosion. But most of it is just a human drama of the failures of the state and how the individual people are dealing with it. And if they’re going to support the state or if they’re going to tell the truth, it’s it’s gripping.
Rebecca: [00:34:56] Wow that’s amazing. All right. Well my byte is a movie that’s out right now which is Booksmart and not enough people are going to see it. And it’s like 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes which has never happened ever in the history of Rotten Tomatoes. It is so good. It is- If you have a teen see it with your teen it’s not like cringey at all if you saw it with your teen and you know like it’s like “sexual situations” but there’s literally no like parts where you’re- well maybe your teen would still be a little embarrassed but probably not.
Amy: [00:35:33] No I get more embarrassed than my teens.
Rebecca: [00:35:35] Yeah. It is so good. The writing is phenomenal. The acting is amazing. The direction is great. It’s just it is your typical high school movie kind of turned on its head. Cause it’s not divided into you know jocks versus nerds in this race. It’s like John Hughes 2.0. It’s like what the evolution should be. And it’s just phenomenal. And you’ve got to go see it. It’s so good it’s so worth seeing. And you should one hundred percent take your teen or make your teen go see the group of friends.
Amy: [00:36:13] Maybe I’ll try to try to drag Fiona which she hasn’t seen a movie with me in a long time.
Rebecca: [00:36:17] Oh my God. Go.
Amy: [00:36:17] I think since we watched the- What was that other really good one with um the mom from Rose- The sister from Roseanne, I’m totally blanking but you know what movie I’m talking about.
Rebecca: [00:36:27] Sister from Roseanne…
Amy: [00:36:28] The sister.
Rebecca: [00:36:28] Oh with Laurie Metcalf.
Amy: [00:36:29] Yes!
Rebecca: [00:36:29] Ladybird.
Amy: [00:36:29] Yes! Yes! Ladybird.
Rebecca: [00:36:31] Yes.
Amy: [00:36:31] But that’s the last movie that I watched with my daughter. And we both loved that. So maybe I can I can drag her to this before she leaves for summer camp.
Rebecca: [00:36:38] Oh yeah she’ll love it. Jake will love it. Like it’s just really good and really well done. It’s just it’s great and it’s such a like from a girl’s perspective because there’s you know just it’s just-
Amy: [00:36:52] And from a really smart girls’ perspective right?
Rebecca: [00:36:55] Smart girls’ perspective. But really like just it’s really wonderful because there are no stereotypes that that you know happen in this movie. There’s no- Everything is unexpected. But even to the characters, you know they’re thrown a loop, like everything they thought about people’s kind of wrong or even themselves. It’s really good.
Amy: [00:37:18] I need to see it.
Rebecca: [00:37:19] So see it. So that’s my byte this week. So what we’re like mini bytes because we’re short of Andrea but I guess our other byte is probably Izzy Kalman’s book which I feel like I want to give- I feel like there are books I want to give people at different stages, and we had Darcy Lockman on last, was it last week or two weeks ago? It’s like that’s the book I want to buy everyone when they get pregnant. This is like the book I want to give everyone when their kid starts pre-school.
Amy: [00:37:46] Well you know it’s it’s funny because we had somebody on the podcast years ago who had just come out with a book. It was uh- I’m trying to remember what book it was but it was it was like a book of parenting hacks. And it was just fantastic. And I would- I bought it and I just kind of had it out in my living room. And every time a friend came over who had small children and started looking through it I would just give it to them and order another one and it happened like six times. So maybe I can do that with these books like you just you just kind of keep them out. And then when your friends start thumbing through them going “Oh I need this.” You say “Take it.” And then you buy another one.
Rebecca: [00:38:22] Yeah. Take one.
Amy: [00:38:23] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:38:23] It. Yeah. It was Asha Dornfest.
Amy: [00:38:25] Yes!
Rebecca: [00:38:25] Right. Parenting Hacks.
Amy: [00:38:25] Yes. Thank you.
Rebecca: [00:38:26] Yeah.
Amy: [00:38:26] The Parenting Hacks books. That was- like I ended up buying more than half dozen because everybody would just start looking through it and go “Oh my God this is amazing! I have to get it!” and I’d be like “No take it.”
Rebecca: [00:38:35] All right. My gift to you for sanity. Oh all right well that’s our show for today you can find out everything we talked about on Parenting Bytes dot com and on Facebook dot com slash Parenting Bytes where we also post you know wherever you subscribe to us listen to us rate, review, share. We love it. There’s so many different ways to listen to the podcast now and please let us know on Facebook if there are issues you want us to tackle. If your kid was bullied how you handled it or mishandled it, let us know. And until next week happy Parenting.
Amy: [00:39:22] Bye.
Rebecca: [00:39:22] Hey this is our Parenting Bytes disclosure. Everything we talk about on the show is our own opinion. Any products we recommend, it’s our own personal recommendation for entertainment purposes only. If you buy something through our affiliate links or you just happen to buy or see or read or watch something that we’ve recommended, it’s at your own risk.