Discussion Questions: Chapter Nine

“A Warm Family Climate”

When children feel warmth from their caregivers, they can relax and learn. This chapter discusses how warmth is blocked and how to open avenues.

“It has been proven over and over again that a warm, caring, and positive emotional climate builds resilience and other strengths that help children avoid bullying dynamics.” (p. 151)

Q: Did you grow up in a warm family or one that had a lot of emotional distance? Describe the dynamics. How did your family climate help you or hinder you?

“Society teaches us to be fearful.” (p. 152)

Q: Was your family tone more joyful or fearful? How did that affect your subconscious programming?

“…turn off the autopilot that repeats the past and learn to listen to intuition…” (p. 155)

Q: Have you ever caught yourself “parenting on automatic?” What happens when you become aware of what you are doing, what messages you are giving?

“It has been proven over and over again that a warm, caring, and positive emotional climate builds resilience and other strengths that help children avoid bullying dynamics.” (p. 151)

Q: Did you grow up in a warm family or one that had a lot of emotional distance? Describe the dynamics. How did your family climate help you or hinder you?

HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired… check for all of these things when emotions are getting out of hand.

Q: When a child is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, they need to get their needs met before making any progress. Is this also true for adults?

Ways to engage include: connection rituals, telling stories, using sweet words, touch, freewheeling play…

Q: What are some positive ways you engage with your kids?

And our favorite question….

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 8 | Chapter 10 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Eight

“Parenting for a Positive Present…and Future”

This chapter focuses on the most powerful antidote to bullying–and the best approach to preventing it. Simply stated, positive parents do not neglect or abuse their children. Instead, they fill their basic needs with kindness and compassion.

Q: This chapter makes many statements about what Positive Parenting is. Can you find them all? How do these statements resonate with you?

“Positive parenting has nothing to do with being ‘perfect.'” (p. 137)

Q: Were your parents perfectionists? If so, how did it affect you, and how you relate to your own kids?

“Building a family is like building a house. You start with a vision and plans…. An optimistic vision can give meaning and purpose to the ongoing and often draining tasks of parenting. How you envision your life is extremely important because it plays into everything else.” (p. 137)

Q: What is your optimistic vision for your children and your family? Does it include feeling happy and having good relationships?

“If you had a difficult childhood but have come to make sense of those experiences, you are not bound to re-create the same negative interactions with your own children.” (p. 146)

Q: In what ways are you a better parent than your folks? What experiences, insights, and/or skills have helped you loosen the grip of old negative attitudes, behaviors, or habits?

“When you have a parenting challenge, remember: ‘Misbehavior’ is not a challenge to your authority, but an unmet need, a reaction to unrealistic expectations, or an expression of pain. Do not take uncooperative behavior personally!” (p. 141)

Q: Have you ever noticed “red flag” phrases like the ones listed, coming out of your mouth? Give an example.

“Remind yourself that your child’s brain will not be fully developed until his or her mid-twenties.” (p. 141)

Q: How did you/could you/would you reframe those “red flag” thoughts into “green flag” thoughts?


And remember, this question is always a good one:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?


Homework: Is there one thing you would like to do differently, as a parent? Share with a friend in the group, and report back to them.

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 7 | Chapter 9 >>

It’s All About Consent

If bullying is all about climbing on top of someone else’s power, then the antidote to bullying is consent. Consensual interaction feels good to everyone involved. “May I climb on top of your power?” “Sure, and then I’ll take a turn being in in charge!” Sounds funny, but isn’t it much more fun?

At the Oscars last week, Joe Biden introduced a song by Lady Gaga that grapples with sexual abuse (a particularly form of bullying), and got a standing ovation for his speech about ending this social vice. Watch his speech here.

If you haven’t seen the “Tea” video about consensual sex yet, you must. Watch it before showing to your (older) kids. Without talking heavily about drinking, having sex, passing out, it very playfully—and very clearly—spells out right and wrong!


Sign the Upstander Petition!

izPsfSuLuXXuAaE-800x450-noPadChange of plans…we are putting the online discussion guide on hold until fall. Meanwhile, Oaklanders are still invited to request free books and join us at Oakland Parents Together on Fridays

“Everyone loved your presentation & is excited to dive into your book!” That’s what the host of Kristen’s talk to Rancho Romero Elementary School parents said about her November mini-workshop, The Bullying Antidote: Raising An Upstander, Not A Bystander.  Ask Kristen about bringing this 45-minute presentation & conversation to your school!

Now here’s something fun: sign this petition to add “Upstanders” to the dictionary!

The Bullying Antidote Reading Group Begins!

Izorgos stickert’s been two and a half years since The Bullying Antidote hit the shelves, and we are finally launching discussion groups! It really is a book designed to create change in groups. As a matter of fact, the stickers on the Zorgos Project books read, “Don’t read this book alone!”

Would you like to discuss The Bullying Antidote with friends, parents at your school, people at your church, among your family, or at work? How about with other parents while you’re waiting at Karate lessons? Learn how, here.

If you live in Oakland, California, you can request FREE copies for your group from Oakland Parents Together here, or come to Oakland Parents Together this Friday and every Friday through June, where the authors will be leading the core group.

If you live elsewhere, and would like to start a discussion group, you can purchase books at a discount here.

books labeled with Zorgos stickersAnd no matter where you are if you have a copy of the book, you can join the discussion online at any time!We will be posting questions weekly right here on this blog where you can ask questions and share thoughts and stories in the comments.

By reading this book together we will create a greater understanding of the mechanisms of bullying dynamics and healthy emotion. We can raise a generation of children who can make and keep friends. And in our own adult lives, we can heal the wounds of bullying dynamics, and become experts ourselves!

We need volunteers and we need sponsors! Please contact Kristen regarding both!

Happy Hour for Happier Kids

Let’s start Thanksgiving early at The Lake Chalet!

happy hour

We are working hard to bring The ZORGOS Project to Oakland, and our Start Some Good fundraiser (http://startsomegood.com/zorgos) ends the day before Thanksgiving!

Help us meet our goal and share in our GRATITUDE with our supporters at this event!

IMAGINE an Oakland where respect, kindness, and caring are practiced in all homes!

THE ZORGOS PROJECT will bring positive change to Oakland through parent education, connection, and consciousness. In Esperanto, ZORGOS means “I will care.” The word also symbolizes the power to shift harmful bullying dynamics into caring and kindness, and positivity.

IMAGINE the potential change in our schools when attendance rises because students feel safe….

To accomplish this, THE ZORGOS PROJECT is donating 3000 copies of THE BULLYING ANTIDOTE to school, church, work, and community groups to empower parents with the research-based tools they need to cure the cultural mean-ness that hurts and holds back children, teens, and adults alike.

IMAGINE schools where our teachers are less stressed and experience greater success because kids have better emotional connections at home. Together, we can do it!

Through parent reading groups, we will create conversations where they need to happen, and expand the positive parenting community in Oakland, where non-violence is our greatest hope.

IMAGINE a bully-free Oakland…

Donors and friends, please come join us!

Get your copy of THE BULLYING ANTIDOTE at our party at Lake Chalet, Tuesday, November 24th, rain or shine!

All donors will be entered to win a FREE Gondola ride, courtesy Gondola Servizio!

Bring your friends, bring family, and bring your cell phone for our 11th hour rally! It’s Happy Hour (3-6) AND Taco Tuesday at the Lake Chalet, from 3 until closing!

RSVP on Facebook

* * * * * * *

Read and pledge: http://startsomegood.com/zorgos
More about us: http://startsomegood.com/Venture/kristen_caven_and_oakland_parents_together
Request books: www.zorgosproject.org

And why not book a gondola ride? http://gondolaservizio.com/

Perks for the Zorgos Project

Did you know Zorgos is Esperanto for “I will take care?” When people care, they will move mountains to achieve success. More importantly, Zorgos symbolizes the antidote to bullying… and the power to shift bullying dynamics into caring and kindness.

The Bullying Antidote provides parents with the research-based tools they need to cure the cultural disease that lies at the root of so many of our social ills.

The Zorgos Project will give 3000 copies of The Bullying Antidote to Oakland parents who will read it in school, church, family, or work-based reading groups.

We know you care, too!

Please help us help Oakland parents help their kids.

Have you seen the movie?

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2015-11-02 15.42.52.jpgThe books are now living at Oakland Parents Together and other Oakland locations… until we fully roll out the program in January.

Do you still have The Bullying Antidote on your reading list? Don’t read this book alone! If you live in Oakland, START A READING GROUP in your school, church, work or neighborhood. If you live elsewhere, or if you are shy… or too busy… you can join our online reading group NOW. There are discussion questions being posted on the Zorgos Reader. Read a chapter and reflect in the comments!

Bully Antidote COVER_smLayout 1
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Stickers, books, t-shirts, a walk around the lake with the authors, a visit to your school…

Plus all donors who live in Oakland will be entered to win a Gondola ride on Lake Merritt!

Here’s that link again!


zp postcard

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! 
2015-11-02 14.13.09

“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!”


While Writing…

Here is something Kristen wrote for a poetry salon to share why this book and project are so important to her:

*  *  *  *

While writing Chapter 3: Problematic Childrearing Practices,
utside my open window
my nineteen-year-old neighbor
who lives with her unemployed mother
sat with her girlfriend
on the steps of the apartment next door.

Her toddler, ready for a nap,
complained, now and then,
in a nonverbal way, as babies do,
about the hot sun.

And every time she made a noise,
her young mother would say,

“Shut up.”

And instead of going outside
and telling her how it hurt me to hear that,
and how wrong she was
because babies need words
to understand what they are feeling
or they will grow up and tell everyone to shut up,
I had to keep working
to meet my deadline.

So I prayed that she would read my book someday.

*  *  *  *

While editing Chapter 5: Understanding Bullying, 
a boy went to jail, tried as an adult
for doing one stupid thing
that hurt a person in a skirt,
and then telling the grownups
it’s because he didn’t like gays,
which wasn’t the truth.
But to be cool you must be vigilant
against anything different,
and under pressure,
this boy said
what he thought
they wanted to hear.

*  *  *  *

When I wrote Chapters 10, 12, and 17, (about Brains, Communication, and Technology),
my husband, a teacher, came home with stories.

Like of the boy sent home for bad behavior
whose sister put him in a headlock on the front steps
and the staff pulled him back to save him from her.

And the girl who complained
her teacher was mean
so mom came in to beat up the teacher.

And the boy whose mom
smacked him with a shoe
all the way to the classroom door
(setting him up for a wonderful day of learning…).

And what he tries to teach them all:

“Use your words.”

But the rules in their families clearly state otherwise.

*  *  *  *

When I was writing Chapter 6, Toward a Bully-Free Culture, in which I state:

“Human Rights are what we give to one another,”

I thought of a man
who was born victim class
in a country where inequality was the law,
but his parents knew better.
And when he became president
knees shook, hearts trembled,
because the ruling class knew
they deserved what was coming to them
for two hundred years of climbing on their power
with full helpings of neglect, abuse and death.

But this man said,

“Let’s move on instead.”

And that day
I found the word
for the superpower
that’s the antidote to bullying
that people can learn,
parents and kids alike.

Zorgos means “I will care.”

Moms and dads, let’s talk about the nuances.

*  *  *  *

Please spread the word about The Zorgos Project at Start Some Good.

If you can make a donation TODAY, you will make a difference to Oakland kids, helping parents creating safer and happier families, streets, and schools.

If this project works in Oakland, it can work elsewhere.

Even a $1 donation will be so appreciated!

With Love, Hope, Appreciation, and ZORGOS,

Online Discussion Group Begins!

What better month than October to start the Online Discussion Group I’ve been planning since publication? Grab your copy of The Bullying Antidote and read a few pages. I will be posting discussion questions every week or so to provoke thought and interaction between remote readers. These questions will remain on the website for future use, and the conversations can continue in the comments.

Subscribe to the Zorgos Reader and get the discussion questions delivered to your inbox… to answer any time! >>>>>

Read the Introduction… and start here!