5 Tips For Becoming An Early Riser

If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock. Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

1. Choose to get up before you go to sleep

You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

No more! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before. Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

2. Have a plan for your extra time

Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day? If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed. You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

3. Make rising early a social activity

While there’s obvious value in joining a Lifehack Challenge in order to get you started as an early riser, your internet buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

4. Don’t use an alarm that makes you angry

If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning? I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

5. Get your blood flowing right after waking

If you don’t have a neighbor you can pick fights with at 5am you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you. If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

Article from:  Lifehack: Daily Productivity Tips 

Photo by David Mao on Unsplash


Is Your Business Ready For Mobile Marketing?


Mobile marketing is a multi-channel, digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS, social media, and apps.

In 2016, the inevitable happened, and mobile overtook desktop as the primary device used to access websites. This didn't come as a huge surprise because, as far back as 2015, Google reported that more searches were conducted on mobiles than on any other device category.

Mobiles are disrupting the way people engage with brands. Everything that can be done on a desktop computer is now available on a mobile device. From opening an email to visiting your website to reading your content, it's all accessible through a small mobile screen.

Consider these stats:

- Mobiles now account for nearly 70% of digital media time [Source: comScore]
- Up to 60% of searches come from mobile devices (Source: Hitwise)
- U.S. consumers spend 87 hours/month browsing on smartphones (Source: Smart Insights)
- 53% of American consumers use their smartphones to access search engines at least once a day (Source: Google and Mobile Marketing Association Survey)

What Do Top Marketers Think About Mobile? Surveys from Salesforce, V12data and Adestra:

- 68% of companies have integrated mobile marketing into their overall strategy
- 79% of marketers believe mobile is essential for their business
- 77% of marketers say mobile generates return on investment
- 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business
- The two most popular ways companies are optimizing for mobiles are (1) using a simple template that works for all devices (52%) and (2) creating a mobile responsive email template (39%)

I think we need to pay attention!

... And if we don't optimize for mobiles?

- Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor's site instead. (MicKinsey & Company)
- 57% of consumers say they won't recommend businesses with poor mobile site design. (Source: socPub)

Here's what to take into account to optimize for mobile:

Your company website or blog MUST BE "RESPONSIVE": If you use WordPress, WIx, SquareSpace, Weebly or Shopify, make sure the Template or Theme "responds" to device screen size: Desktop, Tablet, or Mobiles.

Yet, while responsive design has been around for a while now and is fairly well-established, the majority of sites tend to fall down on usability. That is, the majority of sites are still built for desktop and then dialed back for mobiles. That form-fill that was mildly annoying on desktop is an absolute pig on mobiles. Even if it is responsive.


Avoid Flash or Java: Apple products do not support Flash and have declared that they have no intention to do so in the future.Many phones do not support Java, and even if they do, using Java can be a huge drag on load time.

Optimize Your Images for Mobile Devices: Do not use HUGE files size images which will cause your page to load slower or visitors will leave for another site! You can use WP Smush to detect and compress large images files on your site.

Google Analytics: Make sure Google Analytics code is installed on your website so you can see mobile activity. You will be amazed.

Writing for Mobile Devices:

Tablet for writing



- Phone screens are small. Write in a way that's easily readable
- Use bullet points
- Write short, punchy headlines
- Keep paragraphs brief
- Use text size that is legible


- Short email Subject line
- Use mobile responsive email design template
- Headline Analyzer is a great tool to preview subject lines

Test Your Mobile Site with Google

If your pages aren't optimized for smartphones, they won't rank in mobile search at all. With over half of Google queries coming from mobile devices, that's not something you can put up with in 2017. The focus on mobiles will likely continue with Google's commitment to switch to mobile-first indexing.

There are three great tools that Google offers to test your website:
- Test Your Mobile Speed: Most sites lose half their visitors if loading is slow.
- Analyze you website performance with PageSpeed Insights so you can identify ways to make your site faster and more mobile-friendly.
- Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly: Test how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.

Mobile Marketing with SMS (Short Message Service)

SMS or Short Message Service is undoubtedly an excellent strategy for businesses wanting to connect with more customers.

If boosting sales and improving communication with customers are on your list this year, but you don't have a hefty budget and hours of spare time; SMS is a small, yet powerful, marketing tool not to be overlooked:

90% of SMS messages are opened within 3 minutes (compared to 90 minutes for email)
The open rate of SMS is 98% compared to 22% for emails
Text messages are 8x more effective at engaging customers
Almost 50% of consumers in the US make direct purchases after receiving an SMS branded text


Marketing directly to mobile devices is more personal than targeting an audience through other channels.
When reaching someone on a mobile device via SMS you are reaching that person in his/her pocket or purse
Be personal, respectful, and clear
Keep the text under 160 characters
Don't use slang or abbreviations
Offer the recipient something of value
Make it clear who is sending the message
Craft a clear call-to-action

Start collecting mobile numbers from your clients to build your SMS list!

You can check out this full list of 3rd Party vendors to work with - here are the top ones:


Is your business ready for mobiles? If you're not there, you're nowhere!

Don't wait. Go mobile today!


By Yasmin Bendror   Please contact me today at


Boundless Leadership: 3 Ways to Boost Morale and Break Down Barriers to Engagement

Engagement and interpersonal relationships form the core focus of my work with teams. I'm obsessed with dissolving barriers to workplace results and relationships. Morale is often a casualty of things gone wrong.

A workshop participant asked, 'is there anything I should or should not do when it comes to encouraging positive workplace morale?'

Let's look at an example to tease out the solution. Consider one of your workplace first day stories. Do you remember what it was like arriving in to a new workplace? What happened in your first interactions? Were they inspiring? Energising? Or cold and depressing?

In my experience, how you start is how you go on. And in this we discover the secrets of morale.

My first day at Outward Bound Australia was hugely enjoyable. It started the night before where I was met by some staff and had drinks at a pub. This was my first night in a new country, and I was already making friends. My new colleague drove me from Canberra out to Tharwa and was gracious enough to let me know about some of the day to day rituals, starting with the morning meeting. Here I met my tribe. I knew they were a tribe because of the uniform: shirts and jackets with the Outward Bound logo, people wearing outdoor fleece jackets, jeans, and hiking boots.

I was introduced and welcomed publicly to the community, given a tour, shown my accommodation, and given my gear: all emblazoned by the OB logo. I was so excited to get a pack of my own with that logo! I felt proud to wear it from the start.

Everywhere there was a sense of hustle. Energy, enthusiasm, and an open curiosity about who I was and where I came from. In short, I felt embraced. I felt SAFE.

Chances are your first day was not at all like this. I find many organisations do a pretty poor job of welcoming people in a genuine and authentic way. And morale is in check from the beginning.

If we tease out what does not work, we find the secret to boundless morale.

1. Belonging
We are hard wired as tribal animals to seek belonging and safety in a tribe. It's an early development stage that stays with us and is a primal requirement for security.

Here's what not to do: not being ready for the first day (computer, work space, induction plan), treating the new person as an inconvenience to be squeezed in between meetings, not asking how they are feeling, where they came from what they are looking forward to and what experience they can contribute. Not making a big deal, or any deal at all about the new team member. Not explaining who's who at the zoo, what's important to each stakeholder, and what core projects they are working on.

2. Meaning
A sure sign of poor morale is when individuals have a uni-focal perspective on "what's in it for me". This usually results from the belonging needs not being addressed and people default into survival mode. By focusing on meaning and purpose greater than the individual contribution, and feeling the link between individual contribution and higher purpose, some of the tension from self protection eases. It's protective energy versus expansive energy.

3. Gaming
Work is meant to be enjoyable! How is the 'game' of your work? What rules are you playing by? Are they clear and agreed? Or are there some outdated rules that are clunky? What systems create friction rather than flow? Frustration instead of fun? How do you know if you're winning the game of work? Is progress visible and meaningful? What prize do you get when you 'win' at work? How often do you celebrate wins and winning? Cleaning up the game of work is a very pragmatic way to boost morale. Just make things easier, simpler, and more fun.

Many leaders let morale take care of itself. This is a huge mistake. When we cultivate morale deliberately, we clean up blocks to boundless success.

What do you need to improve, let go of, or incorporate to manage morale better?


Zoë is on a mission to encourage big thinkers with big hearts to make a big difference. She is passionate about showing leaders how to challenge limitations so they can live and lead with boundless energy, confidence, and conviction.

With over 30 years experience developing leaders, she has published "Composure: How Centered Leaders Make the Biggest Impact" and "Moments: Leadership When It Matters Most."

Photo by Paul Bence on Unsplash

Does punctuation really matter?

Tablet for writing


The fuss generated by Lynne Truss’s book, “Eats Shoots & Leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation,” really brought this topic into focus when it was first published. From the way everyone was talking when the book came out, you’d think punctuation was a whole new, previously unappreciated art form that could light up all our lives.

In the cold light of the business day, though, punctuation is not much more than a set of tools we use to fine tune our writing -– nothing more romantic than that.

You’ve probably noticed that it tends to split into two separate categories:

1. Punctuation that affects the meaning of what you write (so it’s worth getting right)

2. Punctuation that doesn’t really affect the meaning of what you write (but irritates some people if you get it wrong)

Beyond that, also there are variations in punctuation rules from one English language culture to the next. Most of those, I would say, fall into category #2.

So let’s take a look at the topic from the non-literary, business-only viewpoint. Please note these are my opinions only and I’m no English graduate – only a realist - so feel free to disagree!

Punctuation that affects the meaning of what you write (so it’s worth getting right)



This is probably the most misunderstood punctuation element of them all. Time and time again I see examples of the apostrophe incorrectly used and I think, “well, if I can get them right on the strength of mere high school / secondary school English, why can’t they?” Apostrophes are easy. Here’s how:

The apostrophe is used in 3 main ways:

1. To make a noun possessive - Suze’s, the children’s, everyone’s – and if it has an “s” at the end of the original noun, then the apostrophe goes after that – cheeses’ – helpers’ –  mothers’ – etc.

2. To show you’ve left something out and/or contracted two words - don’t, won’t, she’ll, he’d, etc.,

and most importantly, it’s as in the contraction of it is

3. To indicate plurals of some lowercase letters - but only a few, as in “mind your p’s and q’s.

The apostrophe is NOT used to accompany possessive pronouns or for noun plurals, including acronyms and well-known abbreviations.

So you DO NOT need an apostrophe in examples like his … yours … hers … its (aha, that’s why!) … etc.

Similarly you DO NOT need an apostrophe to make plurals out of things like … the 1970s … Ipods … PCs …  etc.



Here’s another really useful punctuation mark. Commas split thought processes after introductory 1) words, 2) phrases or 3) clauses, particularly where there would be a pause in natural speech.

1) However, I’m delighted to say that…

2) From the employee’s perspective, I can see we need to…

3) Looking at it from the employee’s perspective, I can see we need to…

Semi colon

This creates a more dramatic pause, usually to link two clauses if you don’t want to use a verbal link like “and” or “but.”

With verbal link:I want to go to the wine bar, but I have work to do here

Without verbal link:I want to go to the wine bar; I have work to do here, however

You can also use semi colons to create a list – for example…

In writing fiction we need to consider a number of issues including establishing the background; defining the main characters; developing the plot; introducing sub-plots; and sketching the roles of supporting characters.


Bullet points

In modern business writing – especially for online purposes – it’s usually better to use bullet points to form a list, because they’re easier to follow both verbally and visually. Generally you should use them for lists of three or more points, and probably for no more than about ten without some sort of break.



This creates an even more definitive pause. It’s most frequently used after a complete (short) statement so you can introduce one or more directly related ideas. If they come in list form you may want to use semi colons to separate the list entries that follow.

For example …

The following people were instrumental in helping us achieve our goals: John Doe, senior chemist; Mary Jones, technical manager; Joe Bloggs, technical advisor; Jane Smith, liaison officer.

Don’t forget, too, that colons form an essential part of timings (e.g. 05:00 hours, 6:00 p.m.)


Period/full stop

Need I say more? Well, yes. Be sure you use this punctuation mark often enough. Long sentences in contemporary business communications tend to wander and obscure meaning. Shorter sentences are punchier, better understood, and far more powerful.



Parentheses section off extra thoughts that, although not critical, are still relevant to a sentence, e.g. … I wondered if the old homestead (which had been built in the 19th century) would withstand this modern onslaught of renovation.



To an extent dashes perform the same function as parentheses … e.g. I wondered if the old homestead  -- which had been built in the 19th century -- would withstand this modern onslaught of renovation. They also can be used in the same way as a colon, e.g. I wondered if the old homestead would withstand this modern onslaught of renovation –- having been built in the 19th century, it might not have been strong enough.


Quotation marks/inverted commas

These marks show direct quotations. Whether other punctuation marks like commas, periods/full stops, colons and semi colons go inside or outside the quote marks depends on where you went to school!

Quote marks also indicate words you want to pull out to suggest irony or some other quirk.In an advertising or promotional context, some people feel that to put quote marks around a statement will make readers believe it has been said by some authoritative person and therefore deserves to be taken seriously.

Well, I know that can work when you’re advertising a fairly low-level product to a certain mass-market level. But believe me if you operate in the higher echelons of business-to-business communications, forget that one. If you want it to be believed, make sure you attribute it to its genuine originator.

Punctuation that doesn’t really affect the meaning of what you

write (but irritates some people if you get it wrong)


Hyphens are used to join two words into one compound word … e.g. well-known, eighty-three, semi-skilled. You also should hyphenate words with some prefixes and suffixes like ex-wife, mid-1970s, self-interested, chairman-elect.

Exclamation mark

People often tend to overuse the exclamation mark which weakens its impact. I’m guilty of this. Often I’ll compose an email to someone, then go back and edit out all but one or two of the “screamers.” Too many of these cheapen your writing, even if it is intended to be light-hearted.

Leader dots…

Another “guilty” from Suze … see? You can use these instead of parentheses or dashes, but they are frowned upon by some people. To be safe, it’s better to use them sparingly or not at all.


Underlining is a common way to emphasize text, but be very careful about using it in text that is intended to be used online. Here, an underlined word or words in an email or web text can represent a link. It’s best to use the bold facility for emphasis.


Another means of emphasizing text. Online, try to avoid using it unless your font is large, because italics are not easy to read from a screen. Traditionally they’re used to show the title of something like a play or newspaper, and also some foreign words e.g. haute cuisineschadenfreude.


This is often used to represent and, or, or and/or. Use it sparingly online as it can be visually confusing




 © Suzan St Maur Better results from your business writing
W:         E:
For more of my business and marketing communication tips, take a look at my articles on the US website, Marketing Professionals .... go:
And for even more of my articles, go:

Prevent Bullies Before They Become Prisoners – 60% of Bullies Have 1 Conviction by Age 24

A ten-year-old boy is told repeatedly that he is a "weakling" and a "girly man," yelled at and teased in a tone of voice tinged with disgust and disdain. Is this bullying? What if it leads to a fist fight? How do you know when someone crosses the line between cruel teasing and bullying? Does emotional bullying have any "real" physical consequences? And perhaps, most importantly, if you are dealing with a true bully, what do you do about it? Let's start by figuring out what bullying is and then move on to what the consequences are and the best ways to deal with it.


Bullying Defined

Bullying takes place when a one or more kids repeatedly harass, intimidate, hit, or ignore another youngster who is physically weaker, smaller or has a lower social status. Realize that adults can also engage in bullying, particularly what I call emotional bullying. However, today we'll focus on young people.

Note that a single fistfight between two kids of similar size and social power is not bullying; neither is the occasional teasing.

Physical bullying is seen in both boys and girls, but it is more common among boys. Girls typically use emotional bullying more so than boys. Bullying can take a number of forms.

o Bullying can be physical (hitting, shoving, or taking money or belongings) or emotional (Causing fear by threats, insults and/or exclusion from conversations or activities).
o Boys tend to use physical intimidation (hitting or threatening to hit) as well as insults, and they often act one-on-one. Girls are more likely to bully in groups by using the silent treatment towards another girl or gossiping about her.
o Kids are often bullied through putdowns about their appearance, such as being teased about being different than other children or for the way they talk, dress, their size, their appearance and so on. Making fun of children's religion or race occurs far less frequently. 1

Bullying begins in elementary school and is most common in middle school; it fades but not completely in high school. It usually occurs in school areas that are not well supervised by teachers or other adults, such as on playgrounds, lunch rooms, and bathrooms. Much of it takes place after school at a location known to students and unsupervised by adults. When I was in middle school, there was a Christmas tree farm where all fights took place. When I was a psych at a middle school, there was a dry creek bed nearby where fights took place. There is always a certain spot that is well known to the students where altercations occur. One way to prevent bullying is to be aware of this spot and police it regularly after school. And realize that the spot will move as soon as the adults become aware of it.

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time, and occurs in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, teasing and name-calling, intimidation, and social exclusion. It can be related to hostile acts perpetrated against racial and ethnic minorities, gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual youth, and persons with disabilities.

Ninety percent of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of some form of bullying at some time in their past. Boys are typically more physically aggressive (physical bullying), whereas girls rely more on social exclusion, teasing, and cliques (verbal or emotional bullying). Bullying can also take the form of cyber communication, e.g., via email (cyber bullying). It is estimated that one in four boys who bully will have a criminal record by age 30.

Who are the bullies?

Children who regularly bully their peers tend to be impulsive, easily frustrated, dominant in personality, have difficulty conforming to rules, view violence positively and are more likely to have friends who are also bullies. Boys who bully are usually physically stronger than their peers.

Moreover, several risk factors have been associated with bullying, including individual, family, peer, school, and community factors. With respect to family factors, children are more likely to bully if there is a lack of warmth and parent involvement, lack of parental supervision, and harsh corporal discipline. Some research suggests a link between bullying behavior and child maltreatment. Also, schools that lack adequate adult supervision tend to have more instances of bullying.

Psychological research has debunked several myths associated with bullying, including one that states bullies are usually the most unpopular students in school. A 2000 study by psychologist Philip Rodkin, PhD, and colleagues involving fourth-through-sixth-grade boys found that highly aggressive boys may be among the most popular and socially connected children in elementary classrooms, as viewed by their fellow students and even their teachers. Another myth is that the tough and aggressive bullies are basically anxious and insecure individuals who use bullying as a means of compensating for poor self-esteem. Using a number of different methods including projective tests and stress hormones, Olweus concludes that there is no support for such a view. Most bullies had average or better than average self-esteem.

Who is being bullied?

Children who are bullied are often cautious, sensitive, insecure, socially isolated, and have difficulty asserting themselves among their peers. Boys who are bullied tend to be physically weaker than their peers. Children who have been victims of child abuse (neglect, physical, or sexual abuse) or who have disabilities are also more likely to be bullied by their peers.

How common is bullying?

In 2002, it was reported that 17 percent of students reported having been bullied "sometimes" or more frequently during the school term. About 19 percent reported bullying others "sometimes" or more often. And six percent reported both bullying and having been bullied. However, in a 2003 study from UCLA, it was reported that almost 50% of sixth graders in two Los Angeles-area public schools report being bullied by classmates during a five-day period.

New research from the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education on 37 school shootings, including Columbine, found that almost three-quarters of student shooters felt bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others. In fact, several shooters reported experiencing long-term and severe bullying and harassment from their peers.

What's more, roughly 45% of teachers report having bullied a student in their past. This comes from a 2006 study which defined bullying "using power to punish, manipulate, or disparage a student beyond what would be a reasonable disciplinary procedure."

The effects of bullying

Bullying exerts long-term and short-term psychological effects on both bullies and their victims. Bullying behavior has been linked to other forms of antisocial behavior, such as vandalism, shoplifting, skipping and dropping out of school, fighting, and the use of drugs and alcohol.

Victims of bullying experience loneliness and often suffer humiliation, insecurity, loss of self-esteem, and thoughts of suicide. Furthermore, bullying can interfere with a student's engagement and learning in school. The impact of frequent bullying often accompanies these victims into adulthood. A study done in 2003 found that emotional bullying such as repeated name-calling has as much of a damaging impact on well-being as being beat up. Dr. Stephen Joseph, from the University of Warwick, states, "Bullying and particularly name calling can be degrading for adolescents. Posttraumatic stress is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a frightening event or ordeal in which physical harm occurred or was threatened, and research clearly suggests that it can be caused by bullying. It is important that peer victimization is taken seriously as symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety and depression are common amongst victims and have a negative impact on psychological health."

As with smoking and drinking, youthful bullying can have serious long-term effects. Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus, PhD, for example, reported in "Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do" (Blackwell, 1993) that 60 percent of boys who bully had at least one conviction by age 24, and 40 percent had three or more convictions.

Other studies found that about 20 percent of American middle school children say they bully others sometimes. Such youngsters tend to have multiple problems: They're more likely to fight, steal, drink, smoke, carry weapons and drop out of school than non-bullies.

That said, recent research has exploded some common myths about bullies: in particular, that they're isolated loners with low self-esteem. In fact, many bullies are reasonably popular and tend to have "henchmen" who aid their negative behaviors.

New and innovative research

A nationally representative study of 15,686 students in grades six through 10, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 285, No. 16) is among the most recent to document the scope of bullying in U.S. schools. This study found that:

* Bullying occurs most frequently from sixth to eighth grade, with little variation between urban, suburban, town and rural areas.
* Males are more likely to be bullies and victims of bullying than females. Males are more likely to be physically bullied, while females are more likely to be verbally or psychologically bullied.
* Bullies and victims of bullying have difficulty adjusting to their environments, both socially and psychologically. Victims of bullying have greater difficulty making friends and are lonelier.
* Bullies are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and to be poorer students.
* Bully-victims--students who are both bullies and recipients of bullying--tend to experience social isolation, to do poorly in school and to engage in problem behaviors such as smoking and drinking.

In the past, bullying behavior was looked at in an either/or fashion - either you are a bully or you are a victim. However, some children report that they're both a bully and a victim at different times.

Related PIVOTAL Resources:  Emotional Wellbeing


Bully-victims experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than the bully-only group or the victim-only group. Those who fall into the bully-victim subgroup are more troubled in terms of internal problems. They carry a great deal of anger, fear and sadness within them and don't have any tools to release it.

Studies have shown that, despite thinking they know how to identify bullies, teachers aren't all that good at actually doing so. Administrators and teachers in schools overestimate their effectiveness in identifying and intervening in bullying situations.

This can have troubling implications. For example, to contain costs, some schools hold intervention programs in group settings. If bully-victims are in the group, they may cause problems for students who are solely victims. It's more productive for bully-victims to be treated separately.

Mediation programs for bullies and victims are also problematic. Peer mediation may be appropriate in resolving conflict between students with equal power, but bullying is a type of victimization. Just as child abuse is a form of victimization between parties of unequal power, so too is bullying.

Solutions for bullying

Many anti-bullying programs don't use research and are thus are likely to fail. Those that work off the myth that the root of bullying is low self-esteem may produce more confident bullies but they probably won't have a significant effect on any bullying behavior.

What's more, the common approach of grouping bullies together for group counseling tends to increases their bullying. You've just put them in a peer group of bullies who reinforce their destructive behaviors.

And conflict resolution or mediation--which assumes equal power between bullies and their victims--may retraumatize those who have been bullied. Pop treatments usually fail because they focus on only one aspect of the problem.

Bullying is a complex problem. There are multiple reasons for bullying. Successful programs take a holistic approach to preventing bullying. This means that they create new school norms for acceptable behavior, involving all facets of the school--students, parents and teachers, psychologists and more.

Global buffers to protect against bullying

Indeed, key to the success of any intervention is appropriate adult guidance and support, presenters agreed. Adults supervise their children about 40 percent less than they did 30 years ago, statistics show, and this and related phenomena have been correlated with problem behaviors. The trend, they added, occurs at a time when teens report wanting more parental attention and family time.

Research shows that parents can be effective interventionists. In a 2001 article, when parents learned to effectively communicate information on binge drinking to their pre-college teens, the young people returned from their first semester of college significantly less likely to drink than a control group.

Teaching your children emotional intelligence (EQ), or how to manage one's emotions, results in less illicit drug use and far less physical violence. Those with lower EI had more substance abuse problems and more frequent fights.

The biggest challenge for teens is to develop the self-regulatory abilities implied by high EQ, and that adults can aid in that process. That's why I'm always talking to you about how to identify your emotions, reminding you to breathe deeply, stressing the importance of journaling, prayer, exercise, yoga, meditation and so on. These are all ways to become more aware of your emotions, so you can in turn manage your emotions more effectively. It's all about emotional intelligence folks.

Parents must also be involved in their children's lives and intervene in a supportive and empathetic nature if they believe their child or another child is being bullied. To help prevent bullying, parents should enforce clear and concise behavioral guidelines and reward children for positive, inclusive behavior. Furthermore, parents should seek assistance from the school's principal, teachers, and counselors if concerns regarding their child's or another child's behavior arises.

Sometimes bullying is easy to spot--a child pushing another on the playground or shoving a classmate's face into the water fountain. Other times bullying is less overt--children spreading rumors, teasing peers or excluding a classmate from games at recess. This veiled type of bullying--known as relational or covert aggression--can be harder for parents and teachers to see and prevent. What's more, previous research suggests that relational aggression increases and intensifies as children get older and become more emotionally and socially sophisticated.

Studies report that the rates of aggression are rising in middle school girls. "It's always been the case that we expect rates of aggression and delinquency to increase for boys, while girls were considered somewhat protected," said Julia Graber, a UF psychologist who did the research. "In this study, it's clear that the differences between girls and boys are diminishing."

Unlike boys, girls in the study reported feeling increasing amounts of anger between sixth and seventh grades, she said. Both groups reported a decline in self-control.

The study of 1,229 students at 22 public and parochial schools in New York City found that the proportion of girls committing five or more aggressive acts in a month, such as "hitting someone" or "pushing or shoving someone on purpose" jumped from 64 percent to 81 percent between sixth and seventh grades. For boys, it rose from 69 percent to 78 percent.

"Girls' entry into adolescence is generally thought of as a vulnerable time for depression, and studies tend to focus on girls' emotional experiences with sadness and depressed moods," Graber said. "What's interesting about this study is that we see an increase in a different negative emotional experience, and that's anger."

Bullying among primary school age children has become recognized as an antecedent to more violent behavior in later grades. Statistics on violence in our country tell a grim story with a clear message. Some children learn how to dominate others by foul means rather than by fair, setting a pattern for how they will behave as adults (bullies). Other children are more easily dominated, suffer miserably, often in silence, and develop a victim mentality that they may be unable to over-come as adults (victims). Action is needed to end purposeful harassment, and bullying.

Signs that a child is being bullied

Children who are being bullied may be embarrassed to talk about what is going on. Parents (or other adults) may notice signs that point to bullying. Your child may:

o Have scrapes, bruises or other signs of physical injury.
o Come home from school without some belongings such as clothes, or money.
o Come home from school quite hungry, saying they lost his or her lunch.
o Develop ongoing physical problems, such as headaches or stomachaches.
o Have sleep disturbances and nightmares.
o Pretend to be sick or make other excuses to avoid school or other situations.
o Change their behavior, such as withdrawing, becoming sad, angry or aggressive.
o Cry often.
o Become more fearful when certain people or situations are mentioned.
o See a sudden drop in grades or have more difficulty learning new material.
o Talk about suicide as a way out.

How to help the child who is being bullied

The key to helping your child deal with bullying is to help him or her regain a sense of dignity and recover damaged self-esteem. To help ward off bullies, give your child these tips:

o Hold the anger (temporarily). It's natural to want to get really angry with a bully, but that's exactly the response the bully is aiming for. Not only will getting angry or aggressive not solve the problem, it will only make it worse. Bullies want to know they have control over your child's emotions. Each time they get a reaction from your child, it adds fuel to the bully's fire - getting angry just makes the bully feel more powerful. Remind your child that anyone that makes you angry has control over you. Help your child work at staying calm through deep breathing and turning their attention to more pleasant thoughts while being picked on.
o Never get physical or bully back. Emphasize that your child should never use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing) to deal with a bully. Not only does that show anger, your child can never be sure what the bully will do in response. Tell your child that it's best to hang out with others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
o Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully. Tell your child to look the bully in the eye and say something like, "I want you to stop right now." Counsel your child to then walk away and ignore any further taunts. Encourage your child to "walk tall" and hold his or her head up high (using this type of body language sends a message that your child isn't vulnerable). Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and by walking away, or ignoring hurtful emails or instant messages, your child will be telling the bully that he or she just doesn't care. Sooner or later, the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother your child.
o Use humor. If your child is in a situation in which he or she has to deal with a bully and can't walk away with poise, tell him or her to use humor or give the bully a compliment to throw the bully off guard. However, tell your child not to use humor to make fun of the bully.
o Tell an adult. If your child is being bullied, emphasize that it's very important to tell an adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school can all help to stop it. Studies show that schools where principals crack down on this type of behavior have less bullying.

Related PIVOTAL Resources: Pivotal Kids -  Classroom Behaviour Management 


o Talk about it. It may help your child to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend - anyone who can give your child the support he or she needs. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when your child is being bullied.
o Use the buddy system. Enlisting the help of friends or a group may help both your child and others stand up to bullies. The bully wants to be recognized and feel powerful, after all, so a lot of bullying takes part in the presence of peers. If the bully is picking on another child, tell your child to point out to the bully that his or her behavior is unacceptable and is no way to treat another person. This can work especially well in group situations (i.e., when a member of your child's circle of friends starts to pick on or shun another member). Tell your child to make a plan to buddy up with a friend or two on the way to school, on the bus, in the hallways, or at recess or lunch - wherever your child thinks he or she might meet the bully. Tell your child to offer to do the same for a friend who's having trouble with a bully. When one person speaks out against a bully, it gives others license to add their support and take a stand, too. o Develop more friendships by joining social organizations, clubs, or sports programs. Encourage regular play visits with other children at your home. Being in a group with other kids may help to build your child's self-esteem and give your child a larger group of positive peers to spend time with and turn to.

Of course, you may have to intervene in persistent cases of bullying. That can involve walking to school with your child and talking to your child's teacher, school counselor, or principal. Safety should be everyone's concern. If you've tried the previous methods and still feel the need to speak to the bullying child's parents, it's best to do so within the context of the school, where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.

If your child is the bully

Learning that your child is a bully can be shocking. But it's important to remain calm and avoid becoming defensive, as that can make a bad situation worse. You may have a greater impact if you express disappointment - not anger - to your child.

Because bullying often stems from unhappiness or insecurity, try to find out if something is bothering your child. Children who bully aren't likely to confess to their behavior, but you'll need to try to get your child to talk by asking some specific, hard-hitting questions, such as:

o How do you feel about yourself?
o How do you think things are going at school and at home?
o Are you being bullied?
o Do you get along with other kids at school?
o How do you treat other children?
o What do you think about being considered a bully?
o Why do you think you're bullying?
o What might help you to stop bullying?

To get to the bottom of why your child is hurting others, you may also want to schedule an appointment to talk to your child's school counselor or another mental health professional (your child's doctor should be able to refer you to someone).



If you suspect that your child is a bully, it's important to address the problem to try to mend your child's mean ways. After all, bullying is violence, and it often leads to more antisocial and violent behavior as the bully grows up. In fact, as many as one out of four elementary school bullies have a criminal record by the time they're 30.

Helping your child stop bullying

Although not all bullying stems from family problems, it's a good idea to examine the behavior and personal interactions your child witnesses at home. If your child lives with taunting or name-calling from a sibling or from you or another parent, it could be prompting aggressive or hurtful behavior outside the home. What may seem like innocent teasing at home may actually model bullying behaviors. Children who are on the receiving end of it learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.

Constant teasing - whether it's at home or at school - can also affect a child's self-esteem. Children with low self-esteem can grow to feel emotionally insecure. They can also end up blaming others for their own shortcomings. Making others feel bad (bullying) can give them a sense of power.

Of course, there will be moments that warrant constructive criticism: for example, "I counted on you to put out the trash and because you forgot, we'll all have to put up with that stench in the garage for a week." But take care not to let your words slip into criticizing the person rather than the behavior: "You're so lazy. I bet you just pretend to forget your chores, so you don't have to get your hands dirty." Focus on how the behavior is unacceptable, rather than the person. Home should be a safe haven, where children aren't subjected to uncomfortable, harsh criticism from family and loved ones.

In addition to maintaining a positive home atmosphere, there are a number of ways you can encourage your child to give up bullying:

o Emphasize that bullying is a serious problem. Make sure your child understands you will not tolerate bullying and that bullying others will have consequences at home. For example, if your child is cyber bullying, take away the technologies he or she is using to torment others (i.e., computer, cell phone to text message or send pictures). Or instruct your child to use the Internet to research bullying and note strategies to reduce the behavior. Other examples of disciplinary action include restricting your child's curfew if the bullying and/or teasing occur outside of the home; taking away privileges, but allowing the opportunity to earn them back; and requiring your child to do volunteer work to help those less fortunate.
o Teach your child to treat people who are different with respect and kindness. Teach your child to embrace, not ridicule, differences (i.e., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, economic status). Explain that everyone has rights and feelings.
o Find out if your child's friends are also bullying. If so, seek a group intervention through your child's principal, school counselor, and/or teachers.
o Set limits. Stop any show of aggression immediately and help your child find nonviolent ways to react.

o Observe your child interacting with others and praise appropriate behavior. Positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative discipline.
o Talk with school staff and ask how they can help your child change his or her bad behavior. Be sure to keep in close contact with the staff.
o Set realistic goals and don't expect an immediate change. As your child learns to modify his or her behavior, assure your child that you still love him or her - it's the behavior you don't like.

Be aware that bullying also takes place between adults, as well as between adults and children. Anywhere there is a power imbalance; there is the risk of bullying. Athletic coaching is a fertile ground for bullying young athletes. As more is learned about bullying and the serious consequences of it, more and more zero tolerance policies will be adopted. Until then, stay aware of subtle cues of bullying in children. The first step is awareness. With greater awareness, bullying can be nipped in the bud.

Dr. John Schinnerer

Educational Psychologist

Dr. John Schinnerer is in private practice helping people learn anger management, stress management and the latest ways to deal with destructive negative emotions. He also helps clients discover optimal human functioning via positive psychology. His practice is located in the Danville-San Ramon Medical Center at 913 San Ramon Valley Blvd., #280, Danville, California 94526. He graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in psychology. He is collaborating with the University of New Zealand on the International Wellbeing Study to look at what we do right and what make for a meaningful, thriving life. He consults with cutting-edge companies with novel technologies such as Resonance Technologies which has a unique method to quantify emotional reactions to products, change initiatives and leadership teams. Dr. Schinnerer has been an executive and psychologist for over 10 years. Dr. John Schinnerer is President and Founder of Guide To Self, a company that coaches clients to their potential using the latest in positive psychology, mindfulness and attentional control. Dr. John Schinnerer hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a prime time radio show, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Schinnerer's areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to moral development, to sports psychology. Dr. Schinnerer wrote the award-winning, "Guide To Self: The Beginner's Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought," which is available at, and


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Teachers and Tornadoes

Once I got past the awe of witnessing Mother Nature’s astonishing power to wreak devastation in Oklahoma, I was awed by something more positive and uplifting: the instinctive capacity of our species to care about, come to the aid of, and — for those caught in the middle of the calamity — to even sacrifice their own lives for others.

Every day we are surrounded by examples of the dark side of human nature — selfishness, greed, dishonesty and cruelty — which make it hard to resist cynicism. It’s a pity that it often takes a disaster and the heroic actions it evokes to provide compelling contrary evidence, to remind us of the best in human nature.

How can one resist tears hearing of the teachers in Oklahoma who put themselves at risk by shielding children with their own bodies? 

I suspect lots of other adults would have reacted in a similar fashion, but I think teachers really are special.

With the current focus on competence and accountability in education, we tend to undervalue one of the most important qualities of most teachers: their genuine sense of responsibility and affection for the children they teach.

Over and over we’ve seen the powerful instinct of teachers to protect children in school shootings and, more recently, in the horrific tornadoes.

Teachers willingly and without hesitation treated children as their own and put themselves at risk to protect them.

It should be a comfort to parents to know how much teachers really care.

Henry Adams once said, “Teachers affect all eternity. You never know where their influence stops.” He was referring to the way they shape lives by transmitting information and learning skills, but teachers often do so much more. Though only rarely called upon to risk their lives, they regularly touch the lives of students with their commitment and love.

It’s been said that kids don’t care what you know unless they know that you care. Let’s do all we can to commend, congratulate and celebrate teachers who show how much they care.

Remember, character counts.

Michael Josephson

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The Opportunity in Music

A beautiful story of a boy overcoming obstacles and the selfless father who is giving his all to help his child become all that he can be.

Patrick Hughes is a young man at Univ. of Louisville who was born blind and crippled and yet now plays the piano beautifully as well as "marches" in the Louisville marching band.