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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Does a strategy exist for a student to be able to concentrate

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Does a psychological strategy exist for a student to be able to concentrate and perform well in his school studies and at the same time successfully ignore school bullies that are bullying him?

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

Your question is very evocative that there is so much behind the simple few words you write. The most important factor is: how old is this student?

What type of school is he in?

How supportive are the teachers and administrators of anti-bullying measures?

Is this a problem in the school or just something about him?

Does he have any mental health issues?

Is he getting any treatment right now? If so, what type? How is it going?

If not, when was the last treatment? What type of treatment was it? Was it helpful?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
10 or 11 years old. A regular public elementary school. The teachers and administrators are no help. The problem is just about him. He doesn't have any mental issues; therefore, the remaining questions are not applicable. Something he was doing before was showing his bullies that they were wrong by showing them what God thinks about what they were doing by showing in The Bible where it said what God thought about what the bullies were doing. He also showed his bullies the descriptions of Hell according to The Bible and told his bullies that was where they were going if they didn't shape up. He also showed his bullies a lot of scientific information that supports that God exists from notes he took from educational TV programs. Believe it or not, his bullies seemed to start thinking about everything he had told them. To show you how unhelpful the teachers, administration, and even his parents are, the teachers and the administration doesn't do anything about the bullying, but they did forbid him not to be preaching and because his parents are afraid to stand up to the school administration, his parents ordered him to obey.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. The dynamics here are not good at all. That the teachers and administration are not addressing the bullying issue in their school is the biggest difficulty in making things better here. That the parents are wimping out just makes the dynamic even worse.

There is so much awareness about bullying and anti-bullying campaigns are so prominent today that it's unusual to have a school administration that is trying to sweep it under the rug. The first goal would be to see if you can get the parents to contact the school board or district superintendent's office and be more proactive in getting the board/superintendent to get the administration on board and shaped up. You seem like the only spunky one here with some courage (other than this unique boy), so maybe you can get them to do this or you yourself can light a fire under the district.

That the boy has spunk is really wonderful. His religious teaching is fantastic. What a clever way of doing it. I don't know that you want to start a whole uproar with the school where if they suspend him for religious proselytizing he takes them to court. There have been some prominent cases like that making national news. But my recommendation to you is to praise him for his charisma, gumption, and courage. Helping him define in himself what his strengths are, that is, how he can translate his beliefs in goodness into action to get his bullies to stop is the strategy here. You're trying then to not just bolster his self worth. That is important. But you're using self worth bolstering as a way to give him a sense of empowerment: he doesn't have to feel like a victim. He has the opportunity to try to help them do better.

So first, this is putting them in the weaker position (they need to do better) and him in the stronger position (he's a good boy with good values who's trying to help them). The important thing is: it is not his RESPONSIBILITY for them to BE better. That's their responsibility. He's a hero simply for trying to help. That's very important.

He may very well fail and they may still continue. Too bad for them is the attitude. For it to spoil his learning and studying is a shame. That's the attitude about that. In other words, he shouldn't LET it spoil his studying. By doing well in school he is continuing to show them that they're the weak ones who are a shame and he's not a victim but a good kid who is doing what will make him happy and successful.

This is the strategy. If you can get the parents on board. All the better. If not, you ave to try to be as much an influence as you can.

Here are some books that might be of use:

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig. She's written a lot of good books on this theme. This one is about a girl. So you'll have to see if it will work for him as boys are sensitive at this age. But he might be able to use it in his "campaign" to reform the bullies.

No Kidding About Bullying: 125 Ready to Use Activities by Naomi Drew. This will be great for the parents if they can be stirred to action as well as for him.

The Juice Box Bully by Sornson and Dismondy. This might be a bit young. But it's really a neat story about getting the bullies "reformed". Sounds great for him!

Stand Up For Yourself by Patty Criswell. A little similar to the one above, but it's about a girl.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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