Today’s Table Talk is by our friend Jody Capehart.  As always she packs her blogs with lots of incredibly helpful and encouraging information.  Don’t be fooled by what you might think is for younger children, ABC’s apply to all ages.  Jody does such a great job providing super helpful direction for moms camping at both ends (toddlers and teens) of the mom spectrum.  Thanks Jody!

… and thanks for walking the road with me.  -Kay


Aggression, Bullying, Conflict Resolutionand Discipline


Well, good morning. Or rather, already-exhausted-from-your-children afternoon!  These A,B,C,D’s aren’t very cheery; in fact, they could be perceived as downright depressing. At first look, they may make you want to go back to bed, find a fairy tale version of parenting, and imagine your ending is “and they lived happily ever-after” as you drift off to sleep. We can dream, can’t we?  But that isn’t reality, so take a deep breath because life today in the parenting lane is fast. Let’s find some defensive driving tips.

A: Alertness, attention, and awareness. As a parent, you have to be alert to the dangers of the potential aggression coming at your child. Before you pull on your Momma and Poppa Bear gloves and get ready to fight, let’s assess first.

   Aggression abounds in our culture. Pay attention to the messages your child may be getting from television, commercials, video games, and even friends.

   Be alert and establish a bully-free environment in your own home by cultivating a spirit in your family that communicates the message, “I love you, trust you, hear you, value you, respect you, believe in you, and am here for you. I want you to feel safe.”

   Set a zero-tolerance level on bullying by holding your child accountable for offensive behaviors, enforcing appropriate repercussions related to offenses, and providing opportunities for your child to make amends.

   Monitor aggressive video games, movies and television programs, social relationships, music, and music videos.

B: Bullies, Bystanders, and the Bullied. There is an excellent book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso. I heartily recommend it for parents. Sometimes we are so busy looking for the big bad bully who might hurt our child that we neglect to look in our own backyard. Of course, we are sure our child could never le=”font-size: small;”>be the bully. This book gently helps you look for signs in case it is your child. Gulp. I know, time to get another cup of coffee.

But, bystander? That is the one we tend not to think about, the child who stands by and lets a bully go after a friend as your child stands amongst the other fearful onlookers, doing nothing about it. This book addresses the signs of this passivity and what to do about it.

And, of course, the bullied, which isevery parent’s worst nightmare. What to do, how to handle it, and where to go for help. June Hunt and I address the complexities of this issue in our book Bonding with Your Teen through Boundaries to be released this August.

C: Connections, Communication, and Conflict Resolution. Everyone wants to feel connected—it is one of our primary needs. So, we communicate. And because we are human, we sometimes have conflicts. It’s a conundrum.

Kay is ‘right on’ with the Moat Blog! One of the keys to success is providing Table Talk for your family. Communicate at the table. Allow each person to share about their day—the highs and the lows. Encourage your children to be detectives. “Look for ways in which television, commercials, billboards, video games and even your friends, tried to get your thinking to go a certain way. What did they want you to think? Do you actually agree with it?  What do you believe? Why?” You want your children to have convictions and be able to defend and articulate what they believe.

Conflict resolution is a life skill. If we teach it to our children when they are young, we can help them to not resort to being a bully with their hands or words in order to get what they want.

D: Discipline, Decide, and Determine.
Oh dear, there’s that pesky word…discipline. That’s the part of our parental job description we would like to skip right over, isn’t it? But when we decide to establish boundaries with the issues that are important, and determine consequences for crossing over those boundaries, parenting can become more joyful.

Let’s say that your little cherubs have decided to be bullies with their fists or words. Or, you discover that your teen is using the computer or cell phone to ruin someone’s reputation via cyberspace. These actions require strong responses on your part, not emotional reactions, but carefully thought-through responses.

   Decide on a consequence for each that is related to the deed. The purpose of a consequence is to retrain the brain and transform the heart. For the little one who used his fists to get a point across, he must now find three ways to use his hands to help, serve, and love that person.

   For the little darlin’ who used her words to gossip and malign, she needs to go out of her way to use her words to encourage and edify that person.

   The teen needs to know that you will have a Sherlock Holmes mindset, that you will inspect what you expect. Cell phones, texting, and computer trails may be followed at a moment’s notice. But most important is the heart. Help your teen towards sincere repentance and restitution with the other person.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139: 23-24 ESV)

Be a proactive parent. Model for your children and teens the behaviors you want by showing them kindness, being considerate, expressing unconditional love, and listening attentively. Establish boundaries that are defined, fair, clearly communicated, and consistently enforced in a respectful manner. Create a home in which you are attentive to aggression, establishing boundaries, teaching communication skills, and providing desirable discipline. You can do it, one step at a time… 

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