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.

Upstanders Stand Up in Style!

Some of the most inspiring efforts to stand up against bullying are sartorial.

A nationwide movement to wear pink shirts in protest of bullying everywhere started when high schoolers in one Canada town passed out pink shirts from the Goodwill and discount stores for seniors to wear in support of a ninth grader who had been bullied for wearing pink. | video

ea2459b61afb11e2914322000a1f984e_61Students in three high schools in San Francisco’s East Bay towns wore skirts on busses and to schools to show solidarity for an agender senior whose skirt had been lit on fire on the bus.

Gang Up for Good’s Mean Stinks campaign has two million girls painting their pinky fingernails blue to show they won’t stand for bullying.

And here’s a great story about boys! Young football players, rather than “beating up on the bullies” as tough guys tend to want to do when they’re feeling hurt and upset, dressed up instead to show they were with the target. Way to disengage from the bullying dynamic!

 

Kids at school often bullied Danny — they didn’t understand why he wore a dress shirt or fedora each day, and they didn’t understand why he couldn’t talk. Danny has apraxia of speech, a motor disorder that makes it difficult for him to communicate. Kids would go up to him and ask, “Why can’t you talk? Just talk.” He’d come home from school distraught.

But a group of the boys on the Bridgewater Badgers’ football team, where Danny is the official water manager, wouldn’t stand for this. Their solution? A “Danny Appreciation Day,” where they would all imitate Danny’s suave style and proudly go to school. In the Life Is Good video below, you can watch scenes from that day — more than 40 boys wore suits. Danny led the march.

via 40 Boys Put on Suits to Stand Up for Their Friend. It Worked. | The Mighty.

 

What if There Had Been Upstanders When…

A program in central Florida has reframed bullying and put it in a “woah” context.

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Logo_Image_2-290x141UpStanders: Stand Up To Bullying uses the history and lessons of the Holocaust, in particular the stories of Rescuers or Righteous Gentiles, to inspire students to become UpStanders rather than bystanders. The goal is to make the community one in which diversity is celebrated, and everyone feels respected and safe. The example of Rescuer behavior during the Holocaust is used to teach students the importance of guarding the rights and safety of others. It is a five-part initiative that is presented to middle school students over a two-school year period.In the UpStanders program, students learn how and when to what to do safely intervene when they witness bullying. It is based on solid research that tells us that the single most effective intervention to interrupt bullying behavior is for bystanders to step in and step up for other students.

via Upstanders | Education | The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida.

Taming the Troubled Brain


Raising kids is a demanding job. When we’re tired or stressed or don’t feel good, our emotions can get triggered and we can do things that can overpower and harm our children. Explosive outbursts – yelling and screaming, for example – frighten children. As a little girl, when my mother lost her temper, yelled, and punished us, it struck terror in my heart – and damaged the love, trust and connection. Later as a mother, when I lost my temper and yelled, I felt guilty. With explosive outbursts everyone feels bad—and kids can take it out by bullying others.

The important question to ask: how can we put the brakes on out-of-control emotions so they don’t explode and damage people? So we can model Zorgos skills to our kids? Let’s turn to brain science to learn why it’s so hard to harness our deepest reactive emotions, and learn two emotional management skills to help us keep our cool.

Brain Science

Deep inside the brain is the amygdala whose job it is to ensure survival. Like a guard dog, it’s always watching for danger and ready to immediately and intensely sound the alarm. Once triggered, the emotional brain floods our body with hormones and chemicals that compel us to fight, flee, or freeze. The amygdala packs an emotional—and physical—wallop, and hijacks the thinking part of the brain! Our stress system goes haywire on red alert. Unable to think straight, we may quite literally be “out of our minds.”

This also happens to children. A child who is experiencing emotional flooding cannot hear you, and cannot be reasonable. Logic does not work during a meltdown or tantrum, so don’t waste your breath. Instead, be patient. Calm yourself. Calm and soothe your child. Be present and connect. Later on, after the storm passes, you’ll be able to talk about what happened. (Adapted from The Bullying Antidote, p. 283)

A Six-Second Grace Period

The intense emotional reactions of the amygdala have a life-or-death urgency. They run ahead of the thinking (cognitive) brain by six seconds. After the alarm sounds, it takes the thinking brain time to activate, evaluate the situation, calm the freaked-out emotional brain and RESPOND. This takes restraint. Do your best to hold off the strong urge to REACT for six seconds. You can harness that strong knee-jerk reaction – the “power-assertive method” — that can harm your child and that you’ll probably regret.

Mindfulness slows down a knee-jerk reaction to a second-by-second awareness of what is going on, inserting a pause that changes impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses. —The Bullying Antidote, page 198

Forget Counting to Ten – EXHALE!

The parasympathetic nervous system quiets the amygdala and tilts body, brain, and mind toward a sense of safety and well-being. It is activated through big exhalations. When you experience the next upset, instead of counting to ten, take a big, deep inhalation, hold it, then exhale gradually while relaxing, focusing on exhaling completely. Do that three or more times. Deep exhalations can harness strong emotions and make time for the rational thinking brain to regain equanimity. So the next time your child is distressed, soothe and calm him/her by connecting, and encourage him/her to blow out the hard feelings.

These emotional management tools corroborated by brain science can restrain the upsetting feelings of parents and children alike. They can strengthen connections and help us move beyond bullying.