Webinar Recap: How to Help Our Children Overcome Bullying Behavior and Thrive with Jennifer Fraser PhD - Soccer Parenting Association
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Webinar Recap: How to Help Our Children Overcome Bullying Behavior and Thrive with Jennifer Fraser PhD

Thanks to everyone who joined us on the most recent Soccer Parenting webinar with Jennifer Fraser PhD on How to Overcome Bullying Behavior. It was a fascinating discussion, and we hope you enjoyed it!

If you didn't manage to catch it live, you can watch a free clip from the interview here - remember, you can re-watch the full webinar on the Soccer Parent Resource Center. Grab your FREE 3 day pass below!

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So, as we're diving into this conversation, can you just take a moment and frame the concept of bullying, of what we're talking about in this conversation, in terms of actions and behaviors that we're referring to just to make sure we're aligned on the topic?

Yeah, it's a good question, because I used the term differently than most people. What I did was I got pulled into a situation where I started to think that I was not really understanding it and my background's academic. So, I went and took a look at the research. So, when I looked at the research, I understood that we actually are at a point in society where we've normalized a lot of behaviors that should be categorized as bullying. So, we call them microaggressions for example, and a microaggression would be you make an off-colored joke about somebody. And then when they don't laugh and they look maybe a bit hurt or offended, you tell them, "Oh, come on, it's just a joke," or somebody writes you an email and they put their heart on their sleeve and you don't bother replying. You ghost them. That would be a pretty bad microaggression. It can do a lot of harm. So, I talk about bullying really specifically looking at adult behavior to children. I don't look at children who bully each other. By that point, you're actually dealing with a really serious situation, where the child is acting out its own trauma with other children. And really, I think we need to stop before we get to that place and that's on us. That's an adult phenomenon. If we were role modeling, all adults, we were all role modeling compassion and empathy and mindfulness, we would have child populations reflecting that back to us. Well, that is not obviously what we're role modeling, because we have children who have an epidemic of bullying on their hands. That means there's a lot of very traumatized children. So, I'm really looking big picture and I'm asking uncomfortable questions to ourselves, to the adults in the room. What can we do differently? How can we be healthier? How are we being misled by society in terms of normalizing this really destructive behavior?

I so appreciate that sentiment. And I have to say an hour and a half ago as I was preparing for this and reading through some of the book, I was so struck with a sense of overwhelm that I felt before when I think about youth sports and when I think about our children and the pressure that they're being raised under, but I was really struck by this. I even called a friend of mine and talked through this. The structures that we have in place for our children, the pressure that they feel academically, sports wise is just building this environment in which they're feeling emotional stress all the time. So, I really appreciate you asking these hard questions. The book is a challenge for us to think about, "How has it been received? How are people receiving it?" Just knowing that it's like and pushing a narrative a little bit that people aren't comfortable with.

I have found that people are absolutely blown away. They're really inspired and excited and empowered, because really what the book says is, "Okay, we have this really destructive framework we've been raised in." So, we grew up in a very bullied child environment, many of us. And so, what you do when you have a brain that has been shaped and sculpted and chiseled into a particular form, you believe that it's reality. You believe that it's normal and we are not a culture. We're not a society that talks about the brain. We are not great at understanding things we can't see. We're extremely visual creatures. We can't see our brains. So, we focus all of our time and energy on our bodies. I mean, it's not funny, but it is funny in the sense that if we started to become more aware of our brains and in my book, I have a lot of stuff on visualizing the brain, making yourself see it, making yourself think about it, using mindfulness as a practice to talk to your brain, because your brain is the absolute command center. What makes the book exciting and why people are having this really crazy reaction to it is the book reminds you every step of the way, even though it's a tough conversation, it's hard to change. It's like getting in shape. If you've been sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, it's not a lot of fun to get in shape and it's really hard. You have to go jogging and look awkward and your lungs hurt and your muscles hurt and you feel sorry for yourself. You have this incredible pull to just go back to what feels comfortable and what you know, but you can get your body in amazing shape in about six months if you work hard, same thing with your brain. It's not a quick fix and the book explains that every step of the way. It's not quick and easy. You don't snap your fingers and suddenly stop being trapped in this bullying... I call it a bullying paradigm. You have to work really hard, but you can get your brain resilient, strong, different. I mean the big discovery is and this is the most important thing to teach our children. We have neuroplasticity. We have brain plasticity. That means if we don't like the way we're behaving, if we don't like the way we feel, if we're suffering from certain conditions that are holding us back, like anxiety or depression or even more serious things, we have the power within our own selves to change that.

About the Author Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF “B” License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

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