How to Calm the Climate—at Home!

_A150897Dr. Louise Hart stood on a chair at the end of the 2017 Zorgos Awards and shared something from her career as a parent educator: a wonderful exercise that teaches healthy touch. She learned about it in the International Journal for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, way back in the 1980s. Here’s an excerpt from The Winning Family, which inspired The Bullying Antidote.

Nurses would bring mothers who had been raised with abusive touch together with their children, for a cup of tea and a chance to change their natural instincts. This was such a hit they called it the “New Zealand Treat,” in which givers put their hands on the backs of receivers, and act out a “Weather Report.”

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It’s important to establish that the body receiving the attention is in charge, and should be giving feedback. (More! Harder! Stop that!) The purpose is to inflict pleasure, not pain. One mother found that she was able to stifle the urge to hit her child by massaging his back instead—with far superior results!

Humans are hard-wired for touch. Teaching children to give and receive massage is as beneficial as teaching them to value exercise, hard work and a good diet. Read more about the benefits of massaging your child. In this high-tech society, there is more a need for high-touch than ever before. Read this article in EduTech for more thoughts on that.

But in a world where the climate is changing and we feel out of control, this give-and-take exercise allows children and adults alike to feel calmer, connected, and more able to cope. It also provides a way to talk about and plan for ways to hande climate disasters as our world changes every day.

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Calm the climate in your home with this easy massage practice.

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The Zorgos Awards 2017

On October 15, 2017, we celebrated The Zorgos Awards with a delicious banquet at Oakland’s beautiful Bellevue Club.

Each nominee was introduced with a stack of words that represent qualities that make up Zorgos, the antidote to bullying, and the words were put into a suitcase. They received a certificate and a golden cape…to honor their ordinary superpowers!

Invocation by Amos White: view “There Are No Bullies & Red Dawn

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Photo by Rich Luibrand • Click photo to hear the poet read

Welcome by Kristen Caven: read “A Silly Word for a Serious Problem

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Henry Hitz, founder of Oakland Parents Together • Photo by Rich Luibrand

Henry Hitz presented Laquisha Cowan, parent coordinator

Effective listening is a key ingredient of The Bullying Antidote, and parent organizer Laquisha’s reputation as a good listener is well-earned. Her listening helps parents grow empathy, make better choices, build relationships with one another, and foster connections that reveal the wonderful truth of positivity: when we mutually support one another, we can overcome personal obstacles and difficulties and better help our children.

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Photo by Rich Luibrand

Sharon Fillion presented to Rebecka Langum, 4th Grade teacher

“Ms. Langum” is known for her enthusiasm and directness, and using humor and empathy to create calmer situations. She sees the best in everyone, and guides those around her to positivity…all of these qualities contribute to a growth mindset, which creates expanded possibility and solutions, interrupting and replacing negative bullying dynamics with the opposite: friendship, self-esteem, hope. She loves little Buddhas.

The award was accepted by everyday hero, Dave Caven.

 

Alice Wertz presented to Genice Jacobs, local and global activist, www.abolitionistmom.org.

Genice Jacobs Simenauer’s work protecting young girls has put the spotlight on an area that urgently calls for prevention. Bullying is a human rights issue, and slavery, the highest (lowest?) form of bullying, needs to be abolished. AGAIN! Her work bringing this issue to public consciousness through a 2014 billboard campaign, her work on policy at the city and state levels, and her work educating parents and teachers through her “Abolitionist Mom” website all support and demonstrate the concept of assertiveness — the “gutsy middle road” away from both bullying and victimhood and towards personal empowerment.

Genice Jacobs

Photo by Rich Luibrand • click it to see video of Genice’s inspiring acceptance speech.

Bellevue Zumba Club says: NO!

All my ladies listen up / If that boy ain’t giving up / Lick your lips and swing your hips / Girl all you gotta say is… / My name is no / my sign is no / my number is no / You need to let it go! / I’m feeling untouchable…. — Meghan Trainor

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Photo by Rich Luibrand • KRS-10 teaches Zumba at 8:30 on Wednesdays

Gary Yee presented to Ron Lytle, composer & lyricist www.ronlytle.com

Ron Lytle’s wonderful works of imagination for East Bay Children’s Theatre have made Grimm’s fairytales less grim, helping to heal a dark history of European childrearing. All of his works demonstrates character arcs towards virtue and happiness, and each show creates opportunities for positive, inter-generational community experiences. The arts as a renewable resource and a powerful primary prevention tool in teaching empathy. Thank you for helping us imagine more “Happily ever after!” These stories teach optimism and a growth mindset.

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Photo by Rich Luibrand • Does it look like Ron is getting an idea for a new musical? We hope so!

Clidell “Franceyez” Jackson III presented to Lamar Hancock, kingmaker

Lamar’s presence and work at Oakland Tech, relating to students and developing programs such as REAL HARD and the African American Male Achievement/Manhood Development program, has been part of an upshift in the story of black boyhood in Oakland. His day-to-day attention to positive change and respect has helped a generation of what might have been “lost” children identify their strengths, new perspectives, and greater powers in a world that defines them by and aligns them with heavy and often deadly bullying dynamics. We honor his spirit of capability in changing a downward spiral to an upward spiral.

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Lamar Hancock, Kristen Caven, Clidell Franceyez Jackson III, Dr. Louise Hart • Photo by Rich Luibrand

Louise Hart presented to Jeanne Gibbs, Thought Leader

The 1987 publication of Jeanne’s book, TRIBES, and subsequent creation of the Tribes Learning Community program created a classroom revolution with Community Circles. When things are going “right” in Oakland Schools, it’s usually because there is some form of this practice, which creates connection, inclusion, and caring among students. The simplicity of circles is a tried and true way to promote social emotional learning, a fundamental ingredient in The Bullying Antidote! Mia Lang accepted for Jeanne Gibbs.

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Photo by Rich Luibrand

(Read: “A Zorgos Day Blessing” by Clidell Franceyez Jackson III)

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Louise Hart presented “Putting Out Fires” circle

The “grand finale” put us all in mind of the fires burning north of us. Louise talked us through a simple backrub technique for healthy touch, featuring snowflakes, raindrops, hail, thunder, lightning, hurricanes, tidal wave, and a calm after the storm.

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“Climate Calming” exercise • All photos by Richard Luibrand

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Nominees who were not able to make the banquet, but who are honored and appreciate just the same, are

Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, city council member

Lynette Gibson McElhaney​ is a champion of evidence based, data-driven approaches to reduce violence such as Ceasefire and the new Department of Violence Prevention in Oakland. Children have a right to grow up without violence. Thank you Lynette, and the Oakland City Council for your foresight in moving Oakland from crisis mode to prevention mode.

Scott Johnson, journalist

Scott’s reporting on the widespread effects of trauma on Oakland’s children helped create awareness and empathy, leading to a greater understanding of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Scott’s ground-breaking journalism helped empower those working to create change and build resilience. Understanding the consequences of trauma helps to create a deeper understanding of bully prevention.

Walk On Pup, local business

A dog-walking upshifted the emotions of dogs from conflict to friendship in one Oakland neighborhood, approaching owners of aggressive behind-the-fence dogs so their pets could walk with the neighborhood pack. Their efforts were part of a renaissance, weaving a social structure where people would stop to say hello. The mood of the neighborhood changed from tense and fearful to open and relaxed. A key concept in bully prevention that, as mammals, our brains are wired for connection, and intentional positivity can replace the urge to fight for territory and self-preservation.

Steve Kerr, basketball coach

Steve’s leadership of The Warriors demonstrates democratic authority, the exemplary “middle road” between permissive and autocratic leadership. Being a public “upstander” has influenced other national sports leaders. Steve’s insistence his team “play with joy” counter-models the punitive autocracy that is often associated with sports coaching, and has allowed talent to thrive and happiness to infuse our city as we share the success of his team. Oakland has experienced great happiness due to the ripple-effect of his positive leadership.

Pete Docter, screenwriter

We can all see joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear so differently now, so much more compassionately, thanks to the Pixar film Inside Out! We thank Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve for bringing the conversation of emotional literacy into the mainstream in a huge new way. It addressed not only the importance of all of our emotions, good and bad, and how different people experience emotion differently, but showed what can happen when we suppress our feelings. When parents understand brain science, they are more likely to use curiosity as an effective parenting tool that creates empathy and closeness, and less likely to identify behavior as “bad,”falling into traps of blaming, shaming, and punishing. Thank you for this beloved work!

NOTE: Nominations are still coming in. 

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By the end of the night, the suitcase was full of words…just like how Oakland is full of solutions.

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The date was chosen because of a mayoral proclamation for Oakland, but….

Anyone can give out Zorgos Awards!!!!

Thank you to “Team Zorgos!”

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Nakeyma Randle, Kristen Caven, Dave Caven, Louise Hart, Vicki Luibrand, Sharon Fillion. Not pictured: Alice Wertz, Laurie Panther

Thank you to our musicians, Sara Klotz de Aguilar and Daniel Finnamore.

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Photo by Rich Luibrand

And thank you to all of the members and staff of The Bellevue Club for such a memorable evening!

The Bellevue Club is a social club hosting a rejuvenation drive. We are all social creatures, hardwired for relationships! Please call for a tour if you would like to learn more about joining. 510-451-1000

 

 

Mission Accomplished!

We have completed our giveaway of 3,000 copies of The Bullying Antidote!

After two years connecting with dozens of Oakland organizations, we put the last 800 copies of the books directly into the hands of Oakland parents at a Back to School Rally.

The word “Zorgos” was on everyone’s lips, thanks to a new acrostic that teaches positive parenting philosophy.

We are celebrating the end of our project with a banquet at Oakland’s historic Bellevue Club, featuring reports from readers and five winners of the Zorgos Awards (to be announced in a press release the week before.)

Nominate someone who inspires Zorgos, the superpower that prevents bullying!

(All nominees will be listed in our press release—make yours today.)

The evening begins with cocktails at 5pm and dinner at 6. Tickets are sliding scale from $25 to $40 and include a buffet dinner and beverage. There is a cash bar open until the event ends at 8pm.

Seats are limited…reserve yours today

Can’t make it to the event? Don’t worry, you can celebrate anywhere! Your $5 donation will help sponsor a meal for our awardees.


“What we nurture is what we get. Instead of nurturing bullying, we need to superpower our kids with Zorgos at every level of society.” —The Bullying Antidote, Chapter 19: Superpowering Our Kids
(See chapter excerpt in Aces Too High)

Cheers!
Kristen, Louise & TEAM ZORGOS!

Press Release

 

5 Ways to Celebrate Zorgos Day … Anywhere!

The mayor of Oakland has proclaimed October 15th “Zorgos Day.” (You can read the proclamation here.) Here are some ways to celebrate it.

  1. Read a chapter of The Bullying Antidote with a friend or family member. Don’t have the book? The first three chapters and discussion questions for the whole book can be found here. There are good questions in every chapter!
  2. Look through the slides from our back-to-school presentation.
  3. Download “What to Do When…” and share with other parents.
  4. Talk with your kids, your friends, your parents. Draw pictures, write poems, talk about how you moved from picked-on to powerful. Maybe write an acrostic together!  Share it with us.
  5. Check out all the great ideas and resources available right here in The Zorgos Reader!

Say you are coming to our Zorgos Day Everywhere Facebook Event! Share something!

Make every day a Zorgos Day!

Have you got some other good ideas? Let us know!

 

A Warm SCARF for Your Child’s Brain

Doctor of Neuroscience David Rock has changed the way businesses think about managing the human needs of their employees. Understanding his SCARF model can also help us to understand our children and teens.

We all have basic needs that must be met for us to feel safe and well. But when we are feeling emotionally uncomfortable, it’s not always obvious what those needs are.  The SCARF model of social needs by David Rock seems to be a very elegant way of exploring those needs. Here is a simple and intuitive description of the model:

STATUS – Your importance compared to others.

CERTAINTY – Predicting the future and anticipating change.

AUTONOMY – The sense of control over events, and the need to feel you have a choice.

RELATEDNESS – The sense of safety and belonging to a social group.

FAIRNESS – The fair exchanges between people.

If some of these areas are under threat, we experience an “away” feeling. If these needs are met, we experience a “towards” feeling. Watch your kids relate to peers, adults, information they receive from the world, and YOU, considering this model. The insights you receive will help you find ways to talk to them about what is going on, and how they can better get what they need.

Sources:
The SCARF model | Dr. Cezar Danilevici
Read more: David Rock on Neuroscience, Leadership and the SCARF Model (Ed Batista)

All About the Zorgos Project

Please share with your networks!

3,000 Free Books for Oakland Parents

Last fall, Oakland Parents Together (OPT) was the recipient of a generous donation of over 3,000 copies of The Bullying Antidote (Hazelden/Betty Ford Foundation) by Oakland authors Dr. Louise Hart and Kristen Caven.

Bully Prevention through Positive Parenting
Unlike other books on bullying, The Bullying Antidote identifies bullying as a cultural power dynamic that has deep roots, perpetrated by common and wide-spread parenting methods. The book is a guide for positive parenting principles which have been proven by neurological, psychological, and sociological research to be the best practices for success and happiness.

Start a Discussion Group Now or in Fall

We have just over 100 cases (24 books each) left to distribute to parent groups in schools, churches, work, family, and other community settings in Oakland. The authors have created a self-paced discussion guide to promote authentic parent-to-parent conversations about bullying, love, violence, nurturing, trauma, and creating positivity in family relationships.

Request Books Here!

The authors also provide support in the form of presentations for parents. Furthermore, OPT staff is available to help facilitate conversations through their signature program, the Parent Café.

If you would like to receive a case of books for your school, church, or other community group, please visit www.zorgosproject.org.

Please share this announcement!

(Here’s the Press Release.)

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P.S. Want to keep in touch? You can sign up for our mailing list and/or get blog posts from The Zorgos Reader.

Lemonade for Oakland

Louise explains why she is standing next to 5,600 lbs of books.

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“As you know, my daughter and I wrote The Bullying Antidote: Superpower Your Kids for Life on request from the publisher. Kristen and I had great hopes that our book would help raise a more respectful, kinder generation by supporting parents! You can imagine our shock and disappointment when Hazelden notified us they would discontinue the book as of January 1, 2016. Apparently bullying is ‘no longer trending.’ But the problem is not solved, especially in our community.

“Kristen arranged for the remaining books to be donated to our Oakland community, in which she and her family have been deeply invested as teachers and parent organizers. (For the last two years, for example, she was president of the largest PTA in Oakland.)

“She discovered Oakland Parents Together, who hosts educational ‘Parent Cafes’ around the city. They were happy to receive the donation of the remaining books for our community.”

Today, 3000 books arrived! 
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“We need some help to pay shipping expenses. And materials to spread the word. Bringing parents together who will read the book and work to create positive change will create some magic. One reader recently wrote, ‘The Bullying Antidote is a wonderful resource—comprehensive and well-written, clear and informative. These are the items I will reference when I use it to teach my classes:

  • How to prevent/reduce victimization
  • How to address bullying
  • Ways to help bullies change their behavior.’

“Please watch Kristen’s video and read about ‘The Zorgos Project.‘ She is really turning our lemons into lemonade, to help our children thrive! But she can’t do it alone.

“If you could make a donation TODAY, it would show the world that there are people who care about educating parents in a city where bullying, poverty and crime intertwine. And if this project works in Oakland, it could work elsewhere. Even a $1 donation will make a huge difference to kids, and make the world a better place!”

Love,
           Louise

A Return to School But Not to Bullying

middle school is where kids need the clearest message.

The return to school can be filled with hopeful anticipation for some, but anxiety and apprehension as well. Many schools have anti-bullying programs to discourage bullying; these work best when parents are involved, and information is reinforced at home. In families and child-care centers—long before the first day of kindergarten—kids learn skills and behaviors that establish how they will get along with others. Adults can superpower their kids with inner strength by: Continue reading

The First “Zorgos Award” Goes to….

A teacher shared this wonderful essay by a third grader who was getting into some bullying behaviors and needed to think things through. It’s wonderful to see how a young child makes connections between empathy and goodness. But honestly, it’s also the funniest thing we’ve read in a long time. Read it aloud to your kids! Jose bullying 1 Jose bullying 2Thank you, Mr. Caven. Good luck to all the third graders!

Nip Meanness in the Bud

book-tiltedOne day at the post office, I mentioned to the clerk that I was writing a book on bullying. Her face lit up eager to tell me about her son. I was so impressed with her story – and how she helped change his life, that we share it in Chapter Five of The Bullying Antidote.

A local post office clerk was called in by the principal at her son’s school because he was bullying younger students. During the meeting, the mother’s heart sank for the little children. She asked them, “Is he scaring you?” They nodded their heads. In front of her son, she said, “I promise you he will never do that again. If you need any help, or someone else is ever bullying you, he will be the one to go to.”

That experience changed the young man. Over time, through programs at school and working with his mother at home, he became a friend to those children.

The school security guard bumped into him one day and asked how he was doing. “Great!” the boy replied. “Love school, and I’m getting good grades.” The surprised guard joked with him: “I thought I would see you in juvenile hall by now.”

“Now, he is a sweetheart,” his mother boasts. “He will even be speaker at his graduation!”

I gave her one of the first copies of The Bullying Antidote. That evening she read the passage to her son—who didn’t remember the experience. “Was I mean, mom? Was I mean?”

The Take-Away of this story:

Kids mostly don’t realize they are being mean. Parents and teachers can nip meanness in the bud by speaking up when it happens saying, “That was mean,” and encouraging them to soften the statement: “Can you say that another way?” With feedback helps children develop their identity, self-image and character. Identifying what’s mean, and knowing that mean is not good, can curb negative behaviors and bullying.

It is even more important to notice and comment on positive behaviors, to reinforce desired behavior. Martin Seligman, the “Father of Positive Psychology,” advises parents to look for emerging strengths and virtues, like kindness, prudence, judgment, and fairness. Noticing and identifying positive qualities build “signature strengths” in youngsters. These positive strengths can be buffers against negative emotions and depression, and lift life up to a more positive plane.

This is one way to build emotional and social health and pro-social skills in children, and to foster self- regulation that interrupts meanness and curbs bullying.