Friday, June 24, 2011

2 Simple Ways To Empower Your Child Against Peer Pressure And Being Made Fun Of

By Guest Blogger Phoebe Lee (in honor of her new book/CD and blog tour)
Author, “Monkey Mind: A Captivating Bedtime Story for Children”

One of the most difficult parts of childhood, for many children, is being made fun of, harassed, or ostracized by their peers. Whether it’s being poked on the playground, being denied seats in the lunchroom, or simply not being invited to the round of birthday parties, the exclusion and torment that can happen during childhood is worse than most adult pain, probably because children are particularly ill-equipped to cope with it.

But whether your child is going to become Miss Popularity or not, there are ways to help your kids through their school years so they emerge relatively unscathed. Here are some ideas:

Teach kids the power of acceptance.

Trying to impart to children that they cannot force someone to agree with them, or to be nice to them, is no easy task. First of all, this is a concept that is difficult, even for some adults to comprehend. How can you explain this to children who have shorter attention spans than adults? They are generally not interested in analyzing their relationships, or the social dynamics are simply too intricate for them to understand. But this lesson is important, because the point of teaching children that they have no power over other people is to empower them to take control of their own feelings. It’s one of those paradoxical life lessons: Through the acceptance of the fact that we cannot control others, we become empowered ourselves. The lesson is, simply that, “I only have the power to change things about myself.” Once your children have internalized this lesson, they will no longer expect to sway the bully on the playground, or the snob who doesn’t invite them to join the gang. But they will know that they can still change the situation, by changing how they act and respond.

Teach kids the power of discernment.

If your children are ridiculed in school, they need to understand that the other child has an opinion, but that an opinion is not a fact. The child that makes fun of another is expressing only what they think. The appropriate question to ask your child (who was made fun of) would be, “Do you agree with that, assessment?” If your child disagrees (which is usually the case) then you are in a far better boat, since all that will be necessary is to remind your child that others’ opinions are not fact, and don’t have to be treated as fact. The difference between opinions and is a crucial distinction to teach our children, and the sooner the better.

Fact or Opinion has become the name of a game in our household, which we play often, frequently on car rides, and which our second-grader loves. We take turns asking each other if a comment that is made is a fact or an opinion. Then, when an incident occurs where some other child has made fun of her I ask, “Is that a fact or an opinion?” She usually answers, “Opinion,” and is undaunted as a result of this reminder.

Teach kids the power of choice.

Peer pressure is the major issue among children today. Don’t be surprised if the same kids that made fun of your youngster become the very ones that encourage your older child to engage in undesirable acts. If a child finds themself in a situation where other kids are going to do something that is against school rules, their moral judgment, or even the law, how do they muster up the courage to leave the situation? Your child will benefit from knowing that they have the power to choose their friends, and that there are different options out there for friendship: If children find themselves in a situation that is uncomfortable, they do have the power to leave. Children need a safe person with whom to share this experience, optimally a parent or teacher. It might seem obvious to an adult to simply exit a bad scene, but children have a tendency to feel stuck in situations.

Teach kids the power of solitude.

Which leads to another value: That it is better to be alone than to be in bad company.

It’s vital to show your children that spending quality time by themselves is a gift and not a punishment, particularly if the alternative is poor role models. Enjoying time to nurture ourselves is how we exhibit self-love, and it is only when we love and respect ourselves that we are capable of having healthy and lasting relationships with others.

Knowledge of the power of choice is a gift to people of all ages, especially our children. When they learn that it is better to play alone, rather than getting into trouble, we find a sense of peace in the world. People who cannot bear to be alone may find themselves in co-dependent relationships. And those who feel the need to be accepted by everyone may end up following other people’s ways throughout life, many times to their own detriment. These people are not able to learn how to create their own destinies and are likely to blame others for their problems.

Try teaching your child the Fact or Opinion game, to take the edge off of being made fun of. Teach them when it’s appropriate to play alone. Your child might well become an independent and empowered leader. At the very least, these lessons will make their school years more enjoyable.

Author Phoebe Lee writes about ADHD, children’s sleep issues, and parenting from a Buddhist perspective. She is the author of the new children’s picture book, “Monkey Mind: A Captivating Bedtime Story for Children” and the accompanying children’s audio, “Monkey, Fish, Dragon.” To follow her blog tour, see or email her publicist at

Keep your eyes open for another guest blog post from Phoebe in the fall!

More key points from the publisher:

* Phoebe Lee's children's picture book, "Monkey Mind" is the only children's picture book on the topic of ADHD and Buddhist parenting
* ADHD is a problem affecting 10% of children, and that number is growing by more than 5% per year, according to the CDC
* The economic cost of dealing with ADHD is an estimated $46-$52 billion/year in the United States (roughly $12,000 to $17,000 annually per affected child)
* 'Monkey mind' is a Buddhist term meaning unsettled, restless, or confused.  It dates back at least as far as the later Qin Dynasty (384-417 AD) in China
* Phoebe's book, her first, has already been lauded by several top -10 Amazon reviewers
* Phoebe Lee writes frequently on ADHD, children's sleep issues, and parenting from a Buddhist perspective
* More details are available at
* Readers can buy the book in bookstores and via Amazon:
Congratulations and good luck on your new book, Phoebe! Thank you for spreading the word about issues that help us help our children. :)

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