In the last post, we talked about how a study was conducted among primary and secondary school students on bullying in their schools. So, where does bullying normally occur? Do they differ in primary and secondary school?
RELATED: Research says You Child Plays a Role in Being Bullied
The Primary school students reported that most bullying took place in areas such as canteens, school fields as well as classrooms. Most of the bullying tend to occur in the canteen. Interestingly, bullying in the school field happens more frequently than in Secondary schools.
RELATED: Overview of Bullying in Singapore: We Know it Exists [1/6]
The Secondary students report that most bullying occured in the same areas – except bullying in classrooms tend to happen more often than most.
Some parents may ask –
“Why does it happen in the classroom? What is the teacher doing?”
“The canteen is very public. How come bullying can take place?”
Most bullying tend to occur in the canteen during recess or after school. Some parents asked why so, especially since there are many students around at the same time. That itself is an issue. Most teachers prefer to avoid the canteen during the recess time or after school as there tend to be too many students milling around. Even when teachers are available in the canteen, unless they are delegated to patrol during recesses, most teachers will wound up chatting or having a quick meal. When there are too many students crowding at the same time, interactions between student multiply. Between the hustle and bustle, one may not notice another student being bullied as most students are involved with their own matters.
Most bullying tend to occur in classrooms in Secondary schools during the transition between classes as well as relief periods. As students grow older, most bullies tend to be more assertive and confident of themselves in strengths and prowess. They are also able to assess the class management style of a teacher. Thus, most bullies are not afraid to act out in a teacher’s presence if they deem that they are able to get away with it. Furthermore, quick transition periods allow students to grab quick opportunities to hit out at someone.
In 2006, a research was conducted by Harvest Centre for Research , Training and Development and Coalition Against Bullying for Children and Youth. More than 4000 students aged 7 to 16 were interviewed via online and pen and paper. To ensure that the surveys conducted were fair, they included students from all four areas of Singapore as well as student care centres.
The online version was PRAQ (Peer Relations Assessment Form). It was a short questionnaire which could be completed in less than 20 minutes and it focused on the following:
- the nature and extent to which bullying occurred in a school
- how children have reacted to bullying at school
- consequences of victims’ feelings of safety, attendance and well-being
- informing others and outcomes
- students’ perceptions of teachers’ concern about bullying at school
As all questionnaires were anonymous, the children were very honest in answering their questions.
The physical version was DINO-Map. It consisted a single A4-sized worksheet with pictures and only a few words on it. It was specifically designed with the self-esteem and feelings of target/victim in mind. The first page was for children to identify the types of bullying behaviour that occurred while the second page was a map to indicate where the bullying took place.
The results were stunning indeed. Although this study took place in 2006 and cyberbullying was not widespread as now, it gave extremely valuable insights on the reasons why our bullied children felt and not speaking up. For the next few posts, we will be looking at the results of the surveys.
- Where has bullying happened
- The types of bullying reported
- How victims or bystanders feel about bullying
- Whether they skipped school because of bullying
- Who the victims tell about their bullying encounter
- Whether things generally improved about reporting
- What victims think of teachers’ interest in solving their problems
Source: Breaking the Silence – Bullying in Singapore / Edited by Esther Ng and Ken Rigby
Every parents hopes that their child strives to be the best that one can be. Yet when a gifted child takes a on a perfectionistic streak, association with suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse and depression becomes higher. How does one identify if perfectionism has become a problem?
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionistic children or adults truly believe that their self-worth or self-esteem depends very much on their capabilities to produce something – rather than who they are. These children are usually bright and gifted children who are very used to producing good results and earning praises of others. Self-evaluation comes very naturally to them after the completion of any activity or event that they are expected to perform well in.
RELATED: How to Identify the Difference between a Bright and Gifted Child
The issue starts when their self-evaluation falls short of their expectations: Their self-evaluation believes that they have not done extremely well and this does not match the expectations they have of themselves.
Thus, they will start to believe that their products are more important than who they are and set extremely high standards for themselves to meet. Once they are unable to overcome an issue, this shakes their self-belief badly. They will withdraw and respond with tears and anger as this only fuel a hidden suspicion they have of themselves: they are not as good as they think they are and are really ‘worthless’.
Differences between Healthy Striving and Perfectionism
How do you know if your child is striving healthily? Your child will put in effort to strive for achievable goals. Emotionally, they will feel hopeful and are engaged in learning. They are energetic and enjoy learning. For a perfectionistic child, the same learning brings about fear of failure and fear of humiliation. Learning is forced and they don’t feel joy in learning anymore.
Issues with Perfectionism
Perfectionism is really a sense of control that child thinks he/she has over their lives. They truly believe if they let go, their grades will fall and everyone will finally see that they are not as great or worthy as others think they are. Hence, they will set higher goals and it will increase over time; they are never satisfied with their performance.
There are many factors that contribute to this cycle: spoken and unspoken expectations of parents and teachers, rivalry and even constant praises about their smarts contribute to “self-worth=great product” belief. Their ego and pride are derived from these and any mistakes made represents a frightening sense of loss of self-control.
RELATED: Differences in Parenting Styles between Gifted and Non-gifted Children
When your child focus so much on being perfect, this paralyses your child’s creativity by making them risk adverse to trying out new things. Your child may also waste too much energy worrying about trivial matters such as focusing on what others think about them instead.
How Can Parents Help?
Your child need to know that they can still succeed in life without being perfect as long as they treat themselves with compassion and there is no need to worry about how others look at them. In the next few posts, we will be looking at specific issues that occur with these children and how to overcome them.
Is your child always anxious and worried? Does he/she always seem to be worrying about something? Many times, these anxious children tend to be very responsible and tend to be perfectionists. They worry about the consequences and over trivial things that they seem to forget to live in the present moment. This may ultimately lead to defiance as they are unable to take the stress. As a parent, what can you do to help them?
- Teach them how to meditate. Most adults tend to chunk meditation and yoga together. Yet this method of slow and deep breathing would teach your child to control their anxiety. In order to breathe deeply, ask them to take a deep breath very slowly and deep into their belly to a count of 5. Once filled, let your child breathe the air out to a count of 5 once more. You can show them Youtube videos which show how to do this diaphragmatic breathing.
- Explain the Fight-or-Flight Syndrome. You will be surprised at how quickly children pick things up and apply in their lives when taught. Many children tend to react spontaneously out of fear or habits to situations, both familiar and unfamiliar. You can show them a picture of a tiger and ask about their likeliest response upon seeing one. This brings about a moment when you can ask them to predict what happens if they are to walk away calmly from the tiger instead. There are some Youtube videos which show how some African hunters walked calmly to a pack of lions to steal their food – frightening the lions instead!
- Banish Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS). Do you have ANTS too? Many parents can be quite pessimistic and often have these thoughts in their heads whenever they encounter something they are not confident of. Unknowingly, they will use negative words to put themselves down. Who would be watching them? Yes! Their child! Sooner or later, their child would begin to have ANTS to put themselves too! Typical ANTS may be: “Nothing ever goes my way,” “I’m a loser because everyone else thinks I am,” or “I’m a failure.” The parent needs to model how to change these thoughts to positive ones by verbalising them such as “If I keep practicing, I’ll get better,” or “Even if I make a mistake, I can learn and do better the next time,” constantly. Once the child believes in them, his/her anxiety levels will be reduced.
Hug your child. Yes, that’s right. Have you hug your child today? Research has shown that human contact tends to calm anxiety levels very efficiently. This creates a ‘safe’ zone where the child feels safe within. In fact, it is recommended that everyone should hug at least once a day to feel happier!
- Exercise.In fact, all he/she needs to do is to take a ten minute walk out in the park. It is no secret that exercise reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins. It also leads to an increase in activity levels in the serotonergic system, which may help to decrease anxiety and improve mood. If your exercise has been moderate to intense, the increased body temperature would reduce the muscle tension, thereby affecting the experience of anxiety.