Mindfulness Reduces Fear of Death & Dying

I’m a big fan of the work of Todd Kashdan. So when a new study comes out by him, I sit up and take notice. Here is the latest one from ScienceDaily.com…

Being ‘Mindful’ Can Neutralize Fears of Death and Dying

Positive psychology of death and dying

ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2011) — Death can be terrifying. Recognizing that death is inescapable and unpredictable makes us incredibly vulnerable, and can invoke feelings of anxiety, hatred and fear. But new research by George Mason University psychology professor Todd Kashdan shows that being a mindful person not only makes you generally more tolerant and less defensive, but it can also actually neutralize fears of dying and death.

“Mindfulness is being open, receptive, and attentive to whatever is unfolding in the present moment,” says Kashdan. In his latest research, Kashdan and his colleagues wanted to find out if mindful people had different attitudes about death and dying.

“Generally, when reminded of our mortality, we are extremely defensive. Like little kids who nearly suffocate under blanket protection to fend off the monster in the closet, the first thing we try to do is purge any death-related thoughts or feelings from our mind,” says Kashdan.

“On the fringes of this conscious awareness, we try another attempt to ward off death anxiety. We violently defend beliefs and practices that provide a sense of stability and meaning in our lives.”

Kashdan says this practice often has an ugly side — intolerance and abuse. “When people are reminded that death is impending, their racist tendencies increase,” he says. In a series of experiments conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia, for example, white people asked to read about a crime committed by another person give harsher penalties for black compared with white defendants after being reminded of their mortality.

Kashdan wondered what might prevent these defensive, intolerant reactions from occurring. In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, he and his colleagues looked at what might happen when mindfulness and the terror of death collide.

“A grudge match between humanity and death,” says Kashdan.

If mindful people are more willing to explore whatever happens in the present, even if it uncomfortable, will they show less defensiveness when their sense of self is threatened by a confrontation with their own mortality?

Based on the results of 7 different experiments, the answer appears to be yes. When reminded about their death and asked to write about what will happen when their bodies decompose (in grisly detail), less mindful people showed an intense dislike for foreigners that mention what’s wrong with the United States (pro-U.S. bias), greater prejudice against black managers who discriminated against a white employee in a promotion decision (pro-white bias), and harsher penalties for social transgressions such as prostitution, marital infidelities, and drug use by physicians that led to surgical mishaps.

Across these various situations, on the contrast, mindful people showed a lack of defensiveness toward people that didn’t share their worldview. Mindful people were diplomatic and tolerant regardless of whether they were prompted to think about their slow, systematic decline toward obliteration.

“What we found was that when asked to deeply contemplate their death, mindful people spent more time writing (as opposed to avoiding) and used more death-related words when reflecting on the experience. This suggests that a greater openness to processing the threat of death allows compassion and fairness to reign. In this laboratory staged battle, mindfulness alters the power that death holds over us,” Kashdan says.

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To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide To Self, Inc.

Award-winning author and blogger

Online Anger Management Help at my new blog on the Positive Psychology of Anger Management: WebAngerManagement.com

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by George Mason University.
________________________________________
Journal Reference:
1. Christopher P. Niemiec, Kirk Warren Brown, Todd B. Kashdan, Philip J. Cozzolino, William E. Breen, Chantal Levesque-Bristol, Richard M. Ryan. Being present in the face of existential threat: The role of trait mindfulness in reducing defensive responses to mortality salience.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2010; 99 (2): 344 DOI: 10.1037/a0019388

Stopping the Senseless Violence Before It Starts – Anti-Bullying and Jared Lee Loughner

The recent shooting that took place in Tucson, Arizona on January 8th, 2011 involving Jared Lee Loughner is an example of the deep pain, anger and frustration many Americans have suffered in the past few years. It is difficult to believe that anyone could walk into a peaceful gathering and open fire on a group of unarmed civilians which included children. It is apparent from his YouTube channel and his cowardly actions that Jared Lee Loughner suffers from a mental disorder. Which one is a matter of speculation at this point.

The violent actions of Mr. Loughner caused me to reflect on an article I wrote a couple years ago about the long-standing and deleterious effects of bullying on its victims. Interestingly, research has shown that it is not only punches that harm us, but malicious words as well.

New research from the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education on 37 school shootings, including Columbine showed that almost 75% of student shooters felt bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others. Several shooters reported experiencing long-term, intense bullying and harassment from their classmates.

Police searching for evidence in East Hartford

I wonder to what extent Jared Lee Loughner suffered at the hands of bullies in his upbringing. On the other hand, to what extent did he bully others?

It is doubtful that any school-based program would have been sufficient to derail the heinous act of gunning down a federal judge, a congresswoman (Gabrielle Giffords) and several others. However, it is necessary to continue to get the message out that there is an undeniable wave of anger, frustration, stress and rage that is sweeping through the U.S. like a wildfire. 

It is our obligation to do everything we can to turn down the volume on this anger – angry rhetoric, bullying threats, intolerance, and all-or-nothing thinking. To that end, I am reprinting my article which an in depth look at bullies, their victims and what you can do to help out on either side.

Stopping Bullies Before They Wind Up Behind Bars

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Guide To Self, Inc.

A ten-year-old boy is told repeatedly that he is a “weakling” and a “girly man,” yelled at and teased in a tone of voice tinged with disgust and disdain. Is this bullying? What if it leads to a fist fight? How do you know when someone crosses the line between cruel teasing and bullying? Does emotional bullying have any “real” physical consequences? And perhaps, most importantly, if you are dealing with a true bully, what do you do about it? Let’s start by figuring out what bullying is and then move on to what the consequences are and the best ways to deal with it.

Bullying Defined

Bullying takes place when a one or more kids repeatedly harass, intimidate, hit, or ignore another youngster who is physically weaker, smaller or has a lower social status. Realize that adults can also engage in bullying, particularly what I call emotional bullying. However, today we’ll focus on young people.

Note that a single fistfight between two kids of similar size and social power is not bullying; neither is the occasional teasing.

Physical bullying is seen in both boys and girls, but it is more common among boys. Girls typically use emotional bullying more so than boys. Bullying can take a number of forms.

  • Bullying can be physical (hitting, shoving, or taking money or belongings) or emotional (Causing fear by threats, insults and/or exclusion from conversations or activities).
  • Boys tend to use physical intimidation (hitting or threatening to hit) as well as insults, and they often act one-on-one. Girls are more likely to bully in groups by using the silent treatment towards another girl or gossiping about her.
  • Kids are often bullied through putdowns about their appearance, such as being teased about being different than other children or for the way they talk, dress, their size, their appearance and so on. Making fun of children’s religion or race occurs far less frequently. 1

Bullying begins in elementary school and is most common in middle school; it fades but not completely in high school. It usually occurs in school areas that are not well supervised by teachers or other adults, such as on playgrounds, lunch rooms, and bathrooms. Much of it takes place after school at a location known to students and unsupervised by adults. When I was in middle school, there was a Christmas tree farm where all fights took place. When I was a psych at a middle school, there was a dry creek bed nearby where fights took place. There is always a certain spot that is well known to the students where altercations occur. One way to prevent bullying is to be aware of this spot and police it regularly after school. And realize that the spot will move as soon as the adults become aware of it.

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time, and occurs in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, teasing and name-calling, intimidation, and social exclusion. It can be related to hostile acts perpetrated against racial and ethnic minorities, gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual youth, and persons with disabilities.

Ninety percent of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of some form of bullying at some time in their past.  Boys are typically more physically aggressive (physical bullying), whereas girls rely more on social exclusion, teasing, and cliques (verbal or emotional bullying). Bullying can also take the form of cyber communication, e.g., via email (cyber bullying). It is estimated that one in four boys who bully will have a criminal record by age 30.

Who are the bullies?

Children who regularly bully their peers tend to be impulsive, easily frustrated, dominant in personality, have difficulty conforming to rules, view violence positively and are more likely to have friends who are also bullies. Boys who bully are usually physically stronger than their peers.

Moreover, several risk factors have been associated with bullying, including individual, family, peer, school, and community factors. With respect to family factors, children are more likely to bully if there is a lack of warmth and parent involvement, lack of parental supervision, and harsh corporal discipline. Some research suggests a link between bullying behavior and child maltreatment. Also, schools that lack adequate adult supervision tend to have more instances of bullying.

Psychological research has debunked several myths associated with bullying, including one that states bullies are usually the most unpopular students in school. A 2000 study by psychologist Philip Rodkin, PhD, and colleagues involving fourth-through-sixth-grade boys found that highly aggressive boys may be among the most popular and socially connected children in elementary classrooms, as viewed by their fellow students and even their teachers. Another myth is that the tough and aggressive bullies are basically anxious and insecure individuals who use bullying as a means of compensating for poor self-esteem. Using a number of different methods including projective tests and stress hormones, Olweus concludes that there is no support for such a view. Most bullies had average or better than average self-esteem.

Who is being bullied?

Children who are bullied are often cautious, sensitive, insecure, socially isolated, and have difficulty asserting themselves among their peers. Boys who are bullied tend to be physically weaker than their peers. Children who have been victims of child abuse (neglect, physical, or sexual abuse) or who have disabilities are also more likely to be bullied by their peers.

How common is bullying?

In 2002, it was reported that 17 percent of students reported having been bullied “sometimes” or more frequently during the school term. About 19 percent reported bullying others “sometimes” or more often. And six percent reported both bullying and having been bullied. However, in a 2003 study from UCLA, it was reported that almost 50% of sixth graders in two Los Angeles-area public schools report being bullied by classmates during a five-day period.

New research from the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education on 37 school shootings, including Columbine, found that almost three-quarters of student shooters felt bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others. In fact, several shooters reported experiencing long-term and severe bullying and harassment from their peers.

What’s more, roughly 45% of teachers report having bullied a student in their past. This comes from a 2006 study which defined bullying “using power to punish, manipulate, or disparage a student beyond what would be a reasonable disciplinary procedure.”

The effects of bullying

Bullying exerts long-term and short-term psychological effects on both bullies and their victims. Bullying behavior has been linked to other forms of antisocial behavior, such as vandalism, shoplifting, skipping and dropping out of school, fighting, and the use of drugs and alcohol.

Victims of bullying experience loneliness and often suffer humiliation, insecurity, loss of self-esteem, and thoughts of suicide. Furthermore, bullying can interfere with a student’s engagement and learning in school. The impact of frequent bullying often accompanies these victims into adulthood. A study done in 2003 found that emotional bullying such as repeated name-calling has as much of a damaging impact on well-being as being beat up. Dr. Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, states, “Bullying and particularly name calling can be degrading for adolescents. Posttraumatic stress is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a frightening event or ordeal in which physical harm occurred or was threatened, and research clearly suggests that it can be caused by bullying. It is important that peer victimization is taken seriously as symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety and depression are common amongst victims and have a negative impact on psychological health.”

As with smoking and drinking, youthful bullying can have serious long-term effects. Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus, PhD, for example, reported in “Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do” (Blackwell, 1993) that 60 percent of boys who bully had at least one conviction by age 24, and 40 percent had three or more convictions.

Other studies found that about 20 percent of American middle school children say they bully others sometimes. Such youngsters tend to have multiple problems: They’re more likely to fight, steal, drink, smoke, carry weapons and drop out of school than non-bullies.

That said, recent research has exploded some common myths about bullies: in particular, that they’re isolated loners with low self-esteem. In fact, many bullies are reasonably popular and tend to have “henchmen” who aid their negative behaviors.

New and innovative research

A nationally representative study of 15,686 students in grades six through 10, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 285, No. 16) is among the most recent to document the scope of bullying in U.S. schools.

This study found that:

* Bullying occurs most frequently from sixth to eighth grade, with little variation between urban, suburban, town and rural areas.

* Males are more likely to be bullies and victims of bullying than females. Males are more likely to be physically bullied, while females are more likely to be verbally or psychologically bullied.

* Bullies and victims of bullying have difficulty adjusting to their environments, both socially and psychologically. Victims of bullying have greater difficulty making friends and are lonelier.

* Bullies are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and to be poorer students.

* Bully-victims–students who are both bullies and recipients of bullying–tend to experience social isolation, to do poorly in school and to engage in problem behaviors such as smoking and drinking.

In the past, bullying behavior was looked at in an either/or fashion – either you are a bully or you are a victim. However, some children report that they’re both a bully and a victim at different times.

Bully-victims experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than the bully-only group or the victim-only group. Those who fall into the bully-victim subgroup are more troubled in terms of internal problems. They carry a great deal of anger, fear and sadness within them and don’t have any tools to release it.

Studies have shown that, despite thinking they know how to identify bullies, teachers aren’t all that good at actually doing so. Administrators and teachers in schools overestimate their effectiveness in identifying and intervening in bullying situations.

This can have troubling implications. For example, to contain costs, some schools hold intervention programs in group settings.  If bully-victims are in the group, they may cause problems for students who are solely victims. It’s more productive for bully-victims to be treated separately.

Mediation programs for bullies and victims are also problematic. Peer mediation may be appropriate in resolving conflict between students with equal power, but bullying is a type of victimization. Just as child abuse is a form of victimization between parties of unequal power, so too is bullying.  

Solutions for bullying

Many anti-bullying programs don’t use research and are thus are likely to fail. Those that work off the myth that the root of bullying is low self-esteem may produce more confident bullies but they probably won’t have a significant effect on any bullying behavior.

What’s more, the common approach of grouping bullies together for group counseling tends to increases their bullying. You’ve just put them in a peer group of bullies who reinforce their destructive behaviors.

And conflict resolution or mediation–which assumes equal power between bullies and their victims–may retraumatize those who have been bullied. Pop treatments usually fail because they focus on only one aspect of the problem.

Bullying is a complex problem. There are multiple reasons for bullying. Successful programs take a holistic approach to preventing bullying. This means that they create new school norms for acceptable behavior, involving all facets of the school–students, parents and teachers, psychologists and more.  

 Global buffers

Indeed, key to the success of any intervention is appropriate adult guidance and support, presenters agreed. Adults supervise their children about 40 percent less than they did 30 years ago, statistics show, and this and related phenomena have been correlated with problem behaviors. The trend, they added, occurs at a time when teens report wanting more parental attention and family time.

Research shows that parents can be effective interventionists. In a 2001 article, when parents learned to effectively communicate information on binge drinking to their precollege teens, the young people returned from their first semester of college significantly less likely to drink than a control group.

Teaching your children emotional intelligence, the ability to manage one’s emotions results in less illicit drug use and far less physical violence. Those with lower EI had more substance abuse problems and more frequent fights.  

The biggest challenge for teens is to develop the self-regulatory abilities implied by high emotional intelligence, and that adults can aid in that process. That’s why I’m always talking to you about how to identify your emotions, reminding you to breathe deeply, stressing the importance of journaling, prayer, exercise, yoga, meditation and so on. These are all ways to become more aware of your emotions, so you can in turn manage your emotions more effectively. It’s all about emotional intelligence folks.

Parents must also be involved in their children’s lives and intervene in a supportive and empathetic nature if they believe their child or another child is being bullied. To help prevent bullying, parents should enforce clear and concise behavioral guidelines and reward children for positive, inclusive behavior.  Furthermore, parents should seek assistance from the school’s principal, teachers, and counselors if concerns regarding their child’s or another child’s behavior arises.

Sometimes bullying is easy to spot–a child pushing another on the playground or shoving a classmate’s face into the water fountain. Other times bullying is less overt–children spreading rumors, teasing peers or excluding a classmate from games at recess. This veiled type of bullying–known as relational or covert aggression–can be harder for parents and teachers to see and prevent. What’s more, previous research suggests that relational aggression increases and intensifies as children get older and become more emotionally and socially sophisticated.

Studies report that the rates of aggression are rising in middle school girls. “It’s always been the case that we expect rates of aggression and delinquency to increase for boys, while girls were considered somewhat protected,” said Julia Graber, a UF psychologist who did the research. “In this study, it’s clear that the differences between girls and boys are diminishing.”

Unlike boys, girls in the study reported feeling increasing amounts of anger between sixth and seventh grades, she said. Both groups reported a decline in self-control.

The study of 1,229 students at 22 public and parochial schools in New York City found that the percentage of girls committing five or more aggressive acts in a month, such as “hitting someone” or “pushing or shoving someone on purpose” jumped from 64 percent to 81 percent between sixth and seventh grades. For boys, it rose from 69 percent to 78 percent.

“Girls’ entry into adolescence is generally thought of as a vulnerable time for depression, and studies tend to focus on girls’ emotional experiences with sadness and depressed moods,” Graber said. “What’s interesting about this study is that we see an increase in a different negative emotional experience, and that’s anger.”

Bullying among primary school age children has become recognized as an antecedent to more violent behavior in later grades. Statistics on violence in our country tell a grim story with a clear message. Some children learn how to dominate others by foul means rather than by fair, setting a pattern for how they will behave as adults (bullies). Other children are more easily dominated, suffer miserably, often in silence, and develop a victim mentality that they may be unable to over-come as adults (victims). Action is needed to end purposeful harassment, and bullying.

Signs that a child is being bullied

Children who are being bullied may be embarrassed to talk about what is going on. Parents (or other adults) may notice signs that point to bullying. Your child may:

  • Have scrapes, bruises or other signs of physical injury.
  • Come home from school without some belongings such as clothes, or money.
  • Come home from school quite hungry, saying they lost his or her lunch.
  • Develop ongoing physical problems, such as headaches or stomachaches.
  • Have sleep disturbances and nightmares.
  • Pretend to be sick or make other excuses to avoid school or other situations.
  • Change their behavior, such as withdrawing, becoming sad, angry or aggressive.
  • Cry often.
  • Become more fearful when certain people or situations are mentioned.
  • See a sudden drop in grades or have more difficulty learning new material.
  • Talk about suicide as a way out.

How to help the child who is being bullied

The key to helping your child deal with bullying is to help him or her regain a sense of dignity and recover damaged self-esteem. To help ward off bullies, give your child these tips:

  • Hold the anger. It’s natural to want to get really angry with a bully, but that’s exactly the response the bully is aiming for. Not only will getting angry or aggressive not solve the problem, it will only make it worse. Bullies want to know they have control over your child’s emotions. Each time they get a reaction from your child, it adds fuel to the bully’s fire – getting angry just makes the bully feel more powerful. Remind your child that anyone that makes you angry has control over you. Help your child work at staying calm through deep breathing and turning their attention to more pleasant thoughts while being picked on.
  • Never get physical or bully back. Emphasize that your child should never use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing) to deal with a bully. Not only does that show anger, your child can never be sure what the bully will do in response. Tell your child that it’s best to hang out with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
  • Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Tell your child to look the bully in the eye and say something like, “I want you to stop right now.” Counsel your child to then walk away and ignore any further taunts. Encourage your child to “walk tall” and hold his or her head up high (using this type of body language sends a message that your child isn’t vulnerable). Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and by walking away, or ignoring hurtful emails or instant messages, your child will be telling the bully that he or she just doesn’t care. Sooner or later, the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother your child.
  • Use humor. If your child is in a situation in which he or she has to deal with a bully and can’t walk away with poise, tell him or her to use humor or give the bully a compliment to throw the bully off guard. However, tell your child not to use humor to make fun of the bully.
  • Tell an adult. If your child is being bullied, emphasize that it’s very important to tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school can all help to stop it. Studies show that schools where principals crack down on this type of behavior have less bullying.
  • Talk about it. It may help your child to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend – anyone who can give your child the support he or she needs. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when your child is being bullied.
  • Use the buddy system. Enlisting the help of friends or a group may help both your child and others stand up to bullies. The bully wants to be recognized and feel powerful, after all, so a lot of bullying takes part in the presence of peers. If the bully is picking on another child, tell your child to point out to the bully that his or her behavior is unacceptable and is no way to treat another person. This can work especially well in group situations (i.e., when a member of your child’s circle of friends starts to pick on or shun another member). Tell your child to make a plan to buddy up with a friend or two on the way to school, on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess or lunch – wherever your child thinks he or she might meet the bully. Tell your child to offer to do the same for a friend who’s having trouble with a bully. When one person speaks out against a bully, it gives others license to add their support and take a stand, too.
  • Develop more friendships by joining social organizations, clubs, or sports programs. Encourage regular play visits with other children at your home. Being in a group with other kids may help to build your child’s self-esteem and give your child a larger group of positive peers to spend time with and turn to.

Of course, you may have to intervene in persistent cases of bullying. That can involve walking to school with your child and talking to your child’s teacher, school counselor, or principal. Safety should be everyone’s concern. If you’ve tried the previous methods and still feel the need to speak to the bullying child’s parents, it’s best to do so within the context of the school, where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.

If your child is the bully
Learning your child is the bully can be shocking. But it’s important to remain calm and avoid becoming defensive, as that can make a bad situation worse. You may have a greater impact if you express disappointment – not anger – to your child.

Because bullying often stems from unhappiness or insecurity, try to find out if something is bothering your child. Children who bully aren’t likely to confess to their behavior, but you’ll need to try to get your child to talk by asking some specific, hard-hitting questions, such as:

  • How do you feel about yourself?
  • How do you think things are going at school and at home?
  • Are you being bullied?
  • Do you get along with other kids at school?
  • How do you treat other children?
  • What do you think about being considered a bully?
  • Why do you think you’re bullying?
  • What might help you to stop bullying?

To get to the bottom of why your child is hurting others, you may also want to schedule an appointment to talk to your child’s school counselor or another mental health professional (your child’s doctor should be able to refer you to someone).

If you suspect that your child is a bully, it’s important to address the problem to try to mend your child’s mean ways. After all, bullying is violence, and it often leads to more antisocial and violent behavior as the bully grows up. In fact, as many as one out of four elementary school bullies have a criminal record by the time they’re 30.

Helping your child stop bullying
Although certainly not all bullying stems from family problems, it’s a good idea to examine the behavior and personal interactions your child witnesses at home. If your child lives with taunting or name-calling from a sibling or from you or another parent, it could be prompting aggressive or hurtful behavior outside the home. What may seem like innocent teasing at home may actually model bullying behaviors. Children who are on the receiving end of it learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.

Constant teasing – whether it’s at home or at school – can also affect a child’s self-esteem. Children with low self-esteem can grow to feel emotionally insecure. They can also end up blaming others for their own shortcomings. Making others feel bad (bullying) can give them a sense of power.

Of course, there will be moments that warrant constructive criticism: for example, “I counted on you to put out the trash and because you forgot, we’ll all have to put up with that stench in the garage for a week.” But take care not to let your words slip into criticizing the person rather than the behavior: “You’re so lazy. I bet you just pretend to forget your chores, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.” Focus on how the behavior is unacceptable, rather than the person.

Home should be a safe haven, where children aren’t subjected to uncomfortable, harsh criticism from family and loved ones.

In addition to maintaining a positive home atmosphere, there are a number of ways you can encourage your child to give up bullying:

  • Emphasize that bullying is a serious problem. Make sure your child understands you will not tolerate bullying and that bullying others will have consequences at home. For example, if your child is cyber bullying, take away the technologies he or she is using to torment others (i.e., computer, cell phone to text message or send pictures). Or instruct your child to use the Internet to research bullying and note strategies to reduce the behavior. Other examples of disciplinary action include restricting your child’s curfew if the bullying and/or teasing occur outside of the home; taking away privileges, but allowing the opportunity to earn them back; and requiring your child to do volunteer work to help those less fortunate.
  • Teach your child to treat people who are different with respect and kindness. Teach your child to embrace, not ridicule, differences (i.e., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status). Explain that everyone has rights and feelings.
  • Find out if your child’s friends are also bullying. If so, seek a group intervention through your child’s principal, school counselor, and/or teachers.
  • Set limits. Stop any show of aggression immediately and help your child find nonviolent ways to react.
  • Observe your child interacting with others and praise appropriate behavior. Positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative discipline.
  • Talk with school staff and ask how they can help your child change his or her bad behavior. Be sure to keep in close contact with the staff.
  • Set realistic goals and don’t expect an immediate change. As your child learns to modify his or her behavior, assure your child that you still love him or her – it’s the behavior you don’t like.

Be aware that bullying also takes place between adults, as well as between adults and children. Anywhere there is a power imbalance; there is the risk of bullying. Athletic coaching is a fertile ground for bullying young athletes. As more is learned about bullying and the serious consequences of it, more and more zero tolerance policies will be adopted. Until then, stay aware of subtle cues of bullying in children and teens. The first step is awareness.  With greater awareness, bullying can be nipped in the bud.

About the Author

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

John Schinnerer is President and Founder of Guide To Self, a company that focuses on coaching clients to achieve their potential using the latest in psychology, psychoneuroimmunology and physiology. Most recently, John hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a prime time radio show, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in psychology. John has been a coach and psychologist for over 10 years.

John’s areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to anger management to sports psychology. He is a noted speaker and author on topics such as emotional intelligence, sports psychology, and executive leadership.

John wrote the award-winning book, “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,” which was awarded the “Best Self-Help Book of 2007”. He writes an award-winning blog on positive psychology, Shrunken Mind.  He has written articles on corporate ethics, anger management, bullying, positive psychology and EQ in the workplace for Workspan magazine, HR.com, and Business Ethics. He has given numerous presentations, radio shows and seminars to tens of thousands of people for organizations such as SHRM, NCHRA, KNEW and KDIA.

How Positive Emotion Protects Against Poor Health

How Positive Emotion Protects Against Poor Health in Later Life

The new issue of the journal ‘Current Directions in Psychological Science’ includes an article entitled,
‘Pathways Linking Positive Emotion and Health in Later Life.’

Positive psychology and free online anger management class 

The author is Anthony D. Ong.

The article begins as follows…

‘There is growing empirical evidence that positive emotion protects against poor health outcomes in later life.

Two recent reviews have documented a robust association between positive emotion and improved health (Chida & Steptoe, 2008; Pressman & Cohen, 2005).

Across experimental and large-scale prospective studies, significant aspects of adult health predicted by positive emotion include self- reported health, physiological responses, physical functioning, disease severity, and mortality.

In this article, I review the biobehavioral and psychosocial pathways that may account for the relationship between positive emotion and health in later adulthood.

Although the literature is not without theoretical gaps and methodological inconsistencies (see Pressman & Cohen, 2005, for a discussion), overall, the data suggest that positive emotions have demonstrable health benefits in later life, the net effect of which may be to slow or delay the rate of functional decline in resilience.’

The article concludes like this…

‘Three decades ago, Lazarus, Kanner, and Folkman (1980) suggested that under intensely stressful conditions, positive emotions may provide an important psychological time-out, help to sustain continued coping efforts, and replenish vital resources that have been depleted by stress. Until recently, there has been little empirical support for these ideas. Foundational evidence for the adaptive function of positive emotion is now beginning to accrue, however. Taken together, the available data indicate that there is no single answer to the question of how positive emotion influences health outcomes in later adulthood. Instead, findings suggest that health behaviors, physiological systems, stressor exposure, and stress undoing may be among the key pathways underlying disparities in physical health, psychological well-being, and even longevity in later life.

Future work building on these findings will require greater attention to the interaction between increasing positive emotion and the presence of decreasing resilience with aging. Targeted prevention and intervention strategies that enhance positive emotions, particularly among the most vulnerable, are likely to play an important role in preventing serious physical illness, minimizing the burden of stress, and improving overall functioning in older adults.’

In addition to the reference section, there’s a small bit on ‘Recommended Reading’:

Charles, S.T., & Carstensen, L.L. (2009). Social and emotional aging.
Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 383-409. A comprehensive, highly accessible overview of what is known about socioemotional development.

Fredrickson, B.L. (2003). The value of positive emotions. American Scientist, 91, 330-335. A clearly written review for readers who wish to expand their knowledge on positive emotions.

Ong, A.D., Bergeman, C.S., & Chow, S.M. (2009). Positive emotions as a basic building block of resilience in adulthood. In J. Reich, A. Zautra, & J. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience: Concepts, methods, and applications (pp. 81-93). New York, NY: Guilford. A highly accessible overview of what is known about positive emotions and resilience in later life.

Zautra, A.J. (2003). Emotions, stress, and health. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. A thorough, far-reaching theoretical analysis of the relationships between stress, emotions, and health.

The author note provides the following contact information: Anthony D. Ong, Department of Human Development, G77 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401; <ado4@cornell.edu>.

Increasingly, science is proving the necessity of positive emotions (e.g., pride, love, curiosity, interest, passion) for a thriving, meaningful, happy life. Currently, there are more than 70,000 empirical studies looking at these very topics (e.g., self-compassion, mindfulness, love, life satisfaction, curiosity, engagement, the zone, passion, strengths, purpose and meaning) under the umbrella term positive psychology.

For more information on ways to cultivate more positive emotions in your life, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com to get a free copy of Dr. John’s award-winning self-help book, ‘Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought.’ It has the latest in positive psychology and tools to make you more aware of and ways to create more positive emotions in your life.

Positive emotions are an instrumental part of any top-notch anger management program as well for the same reasons (e.g., they act as a hidden Reset button for negative physiological effects of destructive emotions, they make us feel more connected and they build enduring resources within). For more information on the best anger management programs which include a positive psychology perspective and ways to create more positive emotions in your life, visit Dr. John’s recently developed online anger management course at http://www.webangermanagement.com. There you will find several free videos sharing the latest tools to turn down the volume on anger AS WELL AS the latest tools to turn up the volume on positive emotions.

Happy holidays!!!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder Guide to Self, Inc.
Award-winning author, blogger and mental health coach

Positive psychology - the joy of bubbles

The simple joy of bubbles!

P.S. Also be sure to check out John’s other fantastic blog on free online anger management classes at http://drjohnsblog.wordpress.com.

Why Anger is the New ‘It’ Emotion (And Better Than Sex!)

How Anger is the New Sex

Switch off the Housewives they’re making you crazy. How to keep your temper in an angry age.

WebMD Feature from “Marie Claire” MagazineBy Joanne Chen

Free online anger management courses w emotion expert John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Whether it’s Wall Street bonuses, the Gulf oil fiasco, or cultural icons (David Letterman! Tiger Woods! Al Gore?!) flagrantly cheating on their wives, Americans have more reason than ever to be pissed off – a sentiment Charles Speilberger, Ph.D., University of South Florida psychologist, says we’re also quicker than ever to express. As coeditor of the recently published International Handbook of Anger – just one of the new releases examining our current age of rage – he should know. Because not only are there more reasons to get angry today, there are more outlets for it as well, from social media to reality TV to books, including Koren Zailckas’ tellingly titled memoir, Fury, out this month. Anger, it seems, is the new sex: It sells. And none of us, especially women, can get enough – just check out the bonanza ratings enjoyed by any reality show in which there’s even the potential for a hissy fit. So how will we ever calm down, and, more importantly, do we even want to? Take a deep breath (or two), and we’ll tell you.
WHAT’S MAKING YOU MAD
(And How to Stop It)

Once upon a time, we told each other off in person. Discussions grew heated, doors were slammed, and we moved on. Now, with so much of our daily communication done via e-mail, texting, or Facebook, many of the impulse controls we’d normally employ in confrontations have gone out the window. “Electronic media disinhibit the expression of anger,” says Michael Potegal, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Minnesota. Alone, typing angry thoughts to a friend or a loved one, we don’t have the benefit of seeing a facial reaction, reading body language, or hearing a voice – we’re wearing conversational blinders, so we end up typing things we’d never say in person.

This, in turn, breeds an anger-making dynamic all its own. Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center, calls this sort of one-sided expression of emotion “venting.” When we e-mail or text, which allows us to ignore the other side of the argument, “we feel justified; the more justified we feel, the angrier we get.” What’s more, typing a thoughtful response to your boyfriend in the heat of an argument is particularly tough when shorthand expressions (whatev!) roll so easily off the fingers. Soon, our inbox and Twitter feeds can devolve into rage-filled echo chambers, leaving us feeling vulnerable and guilty over things we wish we could un-type.

And according to University of Minnesota researchers, even cell-phone communication is fraught with risk. Chatting as we run errands may make us feel like great multitaskers, but the reality is that it means we take longer to react. Add poor sound quality and other distractions into the mix, and you have a recipe for misinterpretations and unintended interruptions – all of which, researchers say, lead to “hurt feelings, conflict, and misunderstandings.” What’s more, the fallout from this is often hardest on women: Says Ray Novaco, Ph.D., professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, women relive angry incidents more, and stay angry longer, than men do.

FINDING PEACE IN AN ANGRY WORLD
 

Turn off the TV. In a University of Maryland study, people who chose reading over watching TV were more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” than those who did the opposite, watching TV more than reading.

Live in 3-D. Save e-mails and cell-phone calls for appointments and reservations, never for heart-to-hearts. And always keep Twitter-talk light and conflict-free.

Breathe. Delay responding to an e-mail or text message that annoys you. Take five breaths; call when you have time to talk calmly. Better yet, take a night to sleep on it. Never, ever send a work e-mail in anger.

Sleep. “Irritability is a symptom of insomnia,” notes Nancy Molitor, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Northwestern University. The message: Snooze more and you’ll be in better control of your emotions – and your tongue.

Be grateful. Make a daily list of everything you’re grateful for as a way to dispel anger, which Novaco says is the “absence of appreciation.”

Move. “The chemicals released during anger can feel like muscular tension that needs releasing,” says Rich Pfeiffer, Ph.D., a Sedona, Arizona-based psychologist. Hit the gym to keep your limbs loose and your mind open.

Take action. Anger strikes when we feel powerless. Whether you’re outraged by disease in Africa or the latest eco-disaster, join a volunteer group to do something about it. Your mood will improve, and you may even have an impact on the problem.

For the full article at WebMD, click here.

For more information on how you can turn down the volume on your anger with the latest scientifically-proven anger management tools, visit http://drjohnsblog.wordpress.com for some free online anger management classes!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder Guide to Self, Inc.
Emotion Expert

 P.S. For a free PDF copy of the award-winning self-help book, Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion And Thought, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com and enter your name and email. There are dozens of tools included to turn down the volume on anger along with the latest methods for anger management.

Bullying P.E. Teachers Can Lead To a Sedentary Life

In high school, I had a negative soccer coach. The experience was so demeaning and infuriating, it caused me to turn my back on the sport I loved for 15 years. While I could have played at a Div II college, I chose to do other things. After having my own sons and agreeing to coach their teams, I finally got past the experience. Now I try to share with young athletes, ‘Don’t let a bad coach (or PE teacher) ruin a sport you love. Your passion for the sport is the critical component.’

From ScienceDaily.com…

Negative Phys Ed Teacher Can Cause a Lifetime of Inactivity

ScienceDaily (Jan. 7, 2010) — Humiliation in physical education class as a child can turn people off fitness for good, according to a University of Alberta researcher.

Dejected Kobe Bryant

Dejected Kobe Bryant

 

Billy Strean, a professor in the U of A’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be determined by either a good or a bad experience, based on the personal characteristics of the coach or instructor. For example, negative experiences may come from a teacher who has low energy, is unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students.

During his research, Strean heard from individuals who opened up about negative experiences with coaches and instructors, some from many years ago.

One study participant wrote, “I am a 51-year-old-woman whose childhood experiences with sports, particularly as handled in school, were so negative that even as I write this my hands are sweating and I feel on the verge of tears. I have never experienced the humiliation nor felt the antipathy toward any other aspect of life as I do toward sports.”

Strean hopes to raise awareness of such experiences so those who instruct children in sport will realize they have the ability to create either a fun and playful experience or an experience of humiliation.

Strean has tips for coaches and teachers, including putting attention on fun, connecting with friends and learning, and, until kids enter their teens, minimizing attention on outcomes.

Strean also found study participants had better experiences from minimally organized games such as street hockey, compared to the more organized activities. He suggests adults try not to over-organize sports and allow the children to explore sporting activities on their own, with minimal rules and no scorekeeping.

Strean’s research was recently published in Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise.

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Alberta, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

University of Alberta (2010, January 7). Negative phys ed teacher can cause a lifetime of inactivity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder of Guide to Self, Inc.

Free online anger management course blog: http://drjohnblog.wordpress.com.

Free PDF of John’s award-winning self-help book available at http://www.GuideToSelf.com