“How to Build a Bully from Scratch”

“Bullying prevention and intervention can only occur in the slow stages of relationship building.”

Here’s an interesting video from Conscious Discipline.

How To Make A Bully (From Scratch)

Bullying is one of the most misunderstood crises of our time. Bullies are created by a specific life-path we can reroute at any stage when we know the road signs to look for along the way. Are you ready to help transform both bullies and victims into contributing, connected members of society? Then take a walk down the life-path of both with Dr. Becky Bailey, a renowned developmental psychology and early childhood expert, and the founder of Conscious Discipline.

It is interesting to us that this example child is given time-outs and other forms of less-violent parenting… but notice how the warmth is still absent.

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.

Discussion Questions: Wrap-Up

Got Zorgos?

We hope you gained great insight by reading and discussing The Bullying Antidote with other parents, and we hope you made some friends as well.

“Making and keeping friends is the number one predictor of adult success in every measure, in every realm. Bullying interrupts that process.”

—Nicholas Carlisle, founder of the No Bully intervention system

Q: Would you recommend this book, or this project to other parents? If so, we would so appreciate your review  of The Bullying Antidote on Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere else parents will find it.

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Let us know how your discussion group went and we will send you some free stickers for your participants, while supplies last.

Here’s a Certificate of Completion to print out for your group.

<< Chapter 19 | Introduction >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Nineteen

Superpowering Our Kids

We have reached the end of The Bullying Antidote! This chapter wraps up everything we have learned with some big-picture ideas: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, human rights, and how Sweden got to the top of the UNICEF child well-being list.

“As much as we like the idea of an antidote to bullying, what we really love is the idea of building immunity. We really love the idea of a superpower: Zorgos! Our secret word represents all the antidotes we’ve mentioned rolled into one. To be called forth, it must be nurtured from the inside and the outside.” (p. 347)

Q: Zorgos is a six-letter word that symbolizes all of the human qualities that are the opposite of, or the antidotes to bullying. After reading this book, how would you personally define Zorgos?

“…Bullying overlaps with civil rights issues; it can be seen as discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, sex, age, disability, or religion.” (p. 348)

Q: Parents don’t always realize that schools are required by law to protect children from discrimination and harassment issues. How do you see your child’s school teaching these concepts? What types of bullying are not legally-protected harassment issues?

every living soulrespect“When students are taught about human rights in schools, they tend to treat one another and themselves better.” (p. 348)

“Human rights are something we give one another.” (p. 350)

Q: Who is in charge of giving humans their rights? Other humans who have power. How can you give rights to those who you have power over? 

A song about giving human rights

A song about giving human rights

Extra Credit: Organize a community musical project with students on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. OR on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 29, specifies that countries must take responsibility for…all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all form of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.”

Q: All members of the United Nations have ratified (agreed to) the Convention on the Rights of the Child, except three: the United States, South Sudan (the newest nation), and Somalia. Why do you suppose the United States has not done so?

Extra Credit: Sign this petition for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Child, or write to your representatives in congress! 

The United States is at the bottom of the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) well-being list. Sweden landed at the top of the list. Let’s compare:

“The Swedish government supports the vital parent-child attachment process that promotes healthy development…. Meanwhile, the United States is the only country in the developed world without a mandatory paid maternity leave. Even in Afghanistan, the worst country in the world in terms of mothering support, mothers get ninety days of paid leave.” (p. 352)

Q: Which of the facts about Sweden listed in the bullets on page 352 do you find most impressive, or most desirable for our country?

“Adults, just like children, are influenced by their peers. The conversations we have, the news we watch and listen to, the interactions with other adults—all of these things influence us. It is essential that you find a buddy who shares in your vision of positive parenting. Or better yet, a community.” (p. 357)

Q: Through this discussion process, do you feel like you have found a buddy to support you in your work as a parent? A community?

What will you do next?

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 18 | Finale >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Eighteen

Swept Away by Technology

In Chapter Two, “Enormous Changes in Society,” we looked at how technology has shaped our family systems over the past hundred years. This chapter focuses on how parents can navigate today’s tsunami of media in the best interest of their children.

“Technology enriches our lives, but it also impoverishes our lives. Humans crave connection, and technology connects people to the broader world—but it also allows them to isolate much more easily…. Technology also creates avenues for bullying that we could have never dreamed of even ten years ago.” (P. 322)

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 12.29.42 PMQ: How has bullying changed since you were a child? How is your social life different from that of your parents?

“Everything kids experience in the first six years of their lives is downloaded into the brain. TV programs and commercials can fill children’s ready-and-eager-to-learn brains with the wrong stuff, especially if they watch shows inappropriate for their age level. As a consequence, children are showing up in kindergarten with greater disrespect, incivility, and violence than before. Technological and commercial pressures are hampering healthy development, obstructing the learning of important life skills, and changing the architecture of the brain.” (p. 334)

Q: In your opinion, how are youngsters in general different from when you were young? 

“Years ago, kids came home from school, and then went outside to play until their parents called them in for dinner. These days, grandparents give iPads to their six-year-old grandkids and parents readily buy digital toys for children. These cool, captivating, engaging toys, given with the best of intentions, can hijack and derail a child’s healthy development.” (p. 332)

Q: What real-life experiences are today’s kids missing out on because of their fascination with and addiction to screens?

“Video game developers create what is called a ‘compulsion loop’. The player plays the game, achieves the goal, and is rewarded with new content, which makes the player want to continue playing and re-enter the loop to explore the new content. During this process, the pleasure center of the brain is activated, releasing dopamine. It feels good—it’s fun! (p. 333) “A study suggests that more than 5 million American kids ages eight to eighteen meet the definition of video game addiction. All children are susceptible, but especially those with poor self-restraint and poor impulse control.” (p. 333)

Q: Review the bullet list of those most susceptible. Which especially speak to you?

“Parents feel overwhelmed and helpless. They feel out of control of their lives and their families. The British study shows how popular culture is sabotaging harmony and unity, and creating division. The media has hypnotized children, molding their brains toward materialistic values and raising good ‘consumers’ instead of good citizens.” (p. 330)

Q: Amy Jussel, an expert on how advertising shapes kid’s brains, doesn’t mince words: “It’s nothing short of corporate pedophilia and voyeuristic sleaze fouling up kids’ socio-emotional health, and our cultural compass as a whole.” Do you agree? Are you worried? Or do you see it differently?

“While parents busily try to set limits at home, marketing executives work day and night to undermine their efforts with irresistible messages.” (Dr. Susan Linn, p. 327)

Q: How do you cope with the “Bullies Behind the Screen” as described on pages 328-330?

“Our kids are out of shape, tuned out and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development: connection to the natural world.” (The National Wildlife Federation, p. 336) “Playing outdoors gives children a safe and captivating outlet for pent-up stress, agitation, and aggressive energy. Creative, unstructured free play is a remedy for overscheduled, over-programmed, stressful lives. Exercise and exploration in nature is an antidote to negative influences, and can have enormous benefits—including plain old-fashioned fun.” (p. 336)

Q: How are some ways you promote positive nurturing in our high tech/low touch culture?

“Kids who are not developmentally ready for what the mainstream media has to offer are the ones who are most at risk. It is therefore the parent’s job to decide how much a child can watch or play.” (p. 338)

Q: How old are your children? What strategies on pages 339-342 do you use to manage technology? What new strategies from this list will you try?

This question is always a good one:

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 17 | Chapter 19 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Sixteen

“Brain Science: Cultivate the Positive”

Brain science is proving what the “soft science” of positive parenting has always known. This chapter contains some amazing discoveries that can change your perspective, and improve your family life.

“Day-to-day interactions shape the child’s brain for better or worse. Love shapes the brain positively, while fear shapes it negatively. Children whose needs are not met, or who experience early neglect or abuse, are more likely to become aggressive than children whose needs are fulfilled.” (p. 277)

Q: The deepest, oldest part of the brain—the amygdala or “lizard brain”—is in charge of survival. It is always looking out for danger. Once triggered, fear floods the body. What can parents do to keep babies and children feeling safe and calm, to prevent or manage “emotional flooding?”

“Just up from the lizard brain is the mammalian or limbic brain. This brain is hardwired for connection. Think of mothers and cubs of all species…the playing, the licking, the nursing, the carrying, the purring. All of these physical interactions create a bond and stimulate the right kind of brain growth for mammals…. All kids need love to keep their brains on track.” (p. 279)

Q: What are ways that mothers naturally attach to their babies? What happens to the baby? To the mom? To the relationship?

“Young children…are mostly nonverbal, emotional, and intuitive…. Kids live completely in the now,  feeling their feelings in the present moment…. Many people are uncomfortable with their feelings because they have been taught to devalue and hide their emotions, that they should instead be rational. This has caused much confusion, shame, and harm….” (p. 280)

Q: Parents sometimes talk to their children like little adults, telling them to calm down or behave, and being upset when they don’t “listen”. Does this new information change your understanding of what your children might need, and what might actually calm or help them?

“By now you realize that the root cause of explosive outbursts is the emotional brain hijacking the thinking brain. You also realize that children’s brains are ‘under construction’ and… they are doing the best they can with the brain they have. When a child has a tantrum, this knowledge (along with deep breathing) can help you calm yourself and shift into your own thinking brain for a better outcome for all.” (p. 286)

Q: What helps you respond positively with compassion to your child, instead of reacting with anger? Which tips on the list on pages 286 and 287 are most helpful to you?

“Trauma and painful experiences are stored in the body; if they have not been processed, integrated, and resolved, they may continue to cause trouble. Painful issues from your own past that weren’t resolved, integrated, and healed can trigger outbursts…. You now have the opportunity to defuse the hot buttons, so they no longer blindside you.” (pp. 287 and 288)

Q: With awareness comes choice. Understanding that you have unconscious memories (we all do), can you figure out why certain things your child does might trigger you? What other choices can you make?

“The plasticity of the brain makes it possible for  us to not pass on old hang-ups and traumas to our children, but actually change the wiring of our brains in a positive way…. With determination and new skills, we can create a love-based family and heal ourselves in the process. We can retrain our brains and ‘get over’ negative patterns and wounds.” (pp. 289 and 290)

Q: Since reading this chapter, have you noticed how your own brain reacts, “automatically,” to certain triggers? Has this chapter, or this book, also helped you become aware of how “plastic” your brain is, or your child’s brain?  Have you noticed the “Empathy Reflex” at work, for better or worse? It is never too late to change, once we discover new tools. What will you try next?

This question is always a good one:

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 15 | Chapter 17 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Seventeen

Hardwired for Resilience

Hurts don’t always become wounds, and wounds don’t always become scars. This chapter discusses the qualities and skills that protect kids from damage and can help healing take place. Resilience can help kids cope, reduce risks, and even mitigate the damage of ACEs.

“When life knocks us down, resilience is what helps us get back up. Resilience is the ability to rebound, to withstand hardship, to repair or rebuild a good life, in spite of all the bad stuff.” (p. 304)

Q: In your own life, what or who has helped you deal with the hard stuff, the problems, the impossible, the pain? What strengths, skills, and/or support did you have that helped you bounce back?

“For children to become healthy, happy, and successful, three fundamental needs must be met: (1) they must have caring relationships; (2) these relationships must convey positive and high expectations; and (3) children must be given opportunities for meaningful participation…. These three positive ‘ingredients,’ … lead directly to positive outcomes—good kids who are caring, competent, and confident.” —Bonnie Benard, author of Resiliency: What We Have Learned, (p. 317)

Q: Think of your kids. Do they have close, caring connections at home or at school? Do adults hold “just right” expectations—high, age-appropriate, and attainable—for them? Do they feel like they “belong” at home, at school, or elsewhere?

“Parents, grandparents, and teachers who believe in kids have great power to build their confidence and resilience from the inside out…. One person can put a child on track for a better future and start an upward spiral. One powerful experience can shift a mindset—and change a life.” (p. 305)

Q: When you were a child, who was the most powerful positive influence in your life? Share with others how they put you on track for health and positivity? (Extra credit: Have you thanked them?)

“What makes children resilient are the inner resources consistently nurtured by moms, dads, grandparents, and other adults who comfort, teach, and play with them. Those fortunate children raised with positive parenting have a reservoir of self-worth to steady and sustain them. They have the internal scaffolding for resilience.” (p. 308)

Q: How the ‘reservoir of self-worth’ that positive parenting provides relate to bullying?

“People don’t build this resilience alone. Gabor Maté explains what helped him survive the horrors of war in Budapest: ‘Resilience doesn’t come from adversity; it comes from love…. For what resilience I do have, I credit my mother. Despite all those terrible circumstances, she did her powerful best to love me and get me through.’” (p. 309)

Q: Of all the ideas presented in this chapter, which is the most helpful for you?


Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 16  | Chapter 18 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Fifteen

“Restructuring Family Power”

Anytime you have two or more people in a group, there is a power dynamic. This is also true in families, and always has been. Every family has its own power structure, and understanding how yours is built can give you insight into what your children are experiencing.

“This chapter explains in detail the dynamics of families that support a culture of bullying, and shows how those families can be restructured so that all those involved can be happier.” (p. 252)

Q: Looking at the bullets on pages 252 and 253, which of those common and widespread childrearing practices sound familiar to you?

“This section will illuminate some familiar parenting patterns that emerge when we are parenting on automatic.” (read “Autocratic Parenting Style” pp. 255; “Permissive Parenting Style” p. 258; and “Finding a Balance” p. 260)

Q: Were you raised by autocratic parents? Permissive parents? One of each? Ping-pong parents? What are you? 



“Old family patterns feel ‘right’; they seem like the way we ought to or have to do things. When unexamined and unquestioned, old patterns get automatically passed on from one generation to the next…. Evaluate each one, and then repeat the good stuff, repair the bad stuff.” (p. 254)

Q: Thinking of your childhood, what patterns helped make you a good person? On the other hand, have you ever declared, “I’ll never do that to my kids?” Talk or write about the troublesome and/or painful family dynamics you do not want to pass on to the next generation. Do you have a plan or strategy to help you do that?

“Nurture and structure are both important. Without structure, a nurtured child becomes self-centered. Without nurture, a structured child feels unloved. Both permissive and autocratic parents attempt to build these dimensions—but fail.” (p. 262)

Q: Why do children crave structure and thrive on routines? Why is nurturing essential? Working together, how can moms and create develop a balance? 



This question is always a good one:

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 14 | Chapter 16 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Fourteen

“Assertive Communication=Effective Communication”

People sometimes interpret assertiveness as aggressiveness, seeing men, women or children asking for what they want as being “pushy.” But appropriate assertiveness, or what we call in this chapter, “the gutsy middle road,” is the only way out of the bullying dynamic. It is “speaking truth to power.” Learning assertiveness skills is recommended both for those who have been bullied and those who are bullies alike. In fact, it is the key to Zorgos!

@ Kristen Caven slide from Beyond Bullying workshop

@ Kristen Caven slide from Beyond Bullying workshop

“Assertiveness skills help people get out of the bullying trap. Youngsters who are assertive do not bully, and they do not attract bullies. They get their needs met without being mean, bratty, coy, or manipulative. They find their voice and speak up; they stand up for themselves and for their friends. Assertive kids have the inner strength and moral compass to be upstanders when aggression and injustice occur.” (pp. 235, 236)

Q: What are examples of the “mouse” communication style, of the “monster” communication style, and of the “me – assertive” communication style?

“Asking assertively is direct communication that is also kind and respectful. A request, not a demand, allows the other person to say ‘no’; it does not use force to get what you want.” (pp. 241, 242)

Q: Recall a time when your child whined or cried or what being mean. Perhaps you were frustrated because you didn’t know what was wrong. What’s your hunch about what was really going on? What do you think they needed? What “I-statement” could have helped him/her shift the focus to what they want and need, clearly communicate that need, and move toward a solution?

“Saying NO, like brakes on a bicycle or car, defines and upholds boundaries. Saying NO defines how far others can go, how far we are willing to go, and where we draw the line. Saying no helps us be in the driver’s seat of our lives…. Saying NO lets us stop what we don’t want and get more of what we do want.” (p. 246)

Q: Is it difficult for you to say NO? Do you feel guilty, that you’re hurting their self-esteem, that they won’t like or love you? Share what comes up for you with other parents in your group.

“It’s the job of parents to stop unacceptable behaviors by saying “No” and “Stop that.” Practicing saying NO builds power and gets easier the more you do it. You might even learn it from your two-year-old!” (p. 247)

Q: What good is NO? What are the benefits? What does saying NO give you?

“You can probably bet the people in your life won’t like it when you first start saying NO, especially if you’ve never said it before. You might notify them (especially your partner) that you’re learning new skills and you’d appreciate their support. You can even encourage them to say no as well…. Balance is important…. Both yes and no are essential for structure, flow, and effective communication.” (p. 248)

Q: Teach your children what you are learning. Help them talk about their feelings, to ask for what they need, to say NO to what they don’t want. These skills will benefit them and you for all your days.


And here is our favorite question of course:

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 13 | Chapter 15 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter Thirteen

“Good Communication = Good Relationships”

This chapter is packed! Covering the words we choose, non-violent communication, better listening, criticism and feedback, problem solving, peace making, and communication rituals, there is a lot to think about—and talk about! Please note on page 222.

“How children turn out depends on family communication skills. What people say to them at home shapes how they think and feel about themselves, and consequently, their behaviors.” (p. 214)

Q: What is the tone of communication in your family? Are swear words common, and if so, what are the rules around them? Is it okay for people to say anything to each other, or are some things off-limits? Is it more ‘normal’ to say positive things to each other or negative things?

click to download this poster!

click to download this poster!

“All parents say things they regret. And sadly, careless words can have unexpected, lasting consequences.” (p. 225)

Q: Have you said words to your child that you regret? Did you ‘undo’ them once you realized it? How so?

“Positive feedback is validating. It encourages, acknowledges, appreciates, compliments, and supports.” (p. 226)

Q: Using the chart on page 228, ‘reframe’ a common statement that you have used or heard recently in your family.

“Most people think they are good listeners, but few really are.” (p. 218)

Communication Exercise: find a partner and ask them to tell them about their day. Using the Active Listening Techniques on page 218, let them talk for 5 minutes. Then take turns. Q: How did it feel to fully listen? How did it feel to be fully listened to? 




Try that exercise with your child. Try it with your partner.

Also, choose one or more of the following:

  • When a conflict arises, use the steps of Non-Violent Communication on p. 217
  • Use the Twelve Steps to Peacemaking on p. 230
  • Choose a new parent interaction from p. 233
  • See bottom of p. 231. How many family dinners do you have per week? If less than three, can you try for one more? (If you can, shoot for 5!)


Do you know someone whose child has been bullied? Have them read “Listening to Trouble” on pages 221 and 222.

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 12 | Chapter 14 >>