Stop Damaging Your Relationship: 3 Options Instead of an Ultimatum


In your relationship, whether past or present, you may have found yourself overly frustrated and exhausted by your partners behaviors, feeling you only have one option: the ultimatum.  For instance, if your partner does not stop abusing drugs or alcohol, start helping around the house or with the children, or end a relationship that is impacting the bond you share, you will leave. The principle of your ultimatum implies that you are leaving the relationship unless your specified need is met.  However, with most ultimatums, you are actually asking your partner to change because you are not ready to end the relationship.  This is where the ultimatum falls through and ultimately damages your relationship.  Ultimatums imply finality.

When you do not follow through on your threat, you are teaching your partner that his or her behavior is actually okay, therefore suggesting the issue is no longer a problem for you.  However, if an ultimatum is declared and behavior does not change, you are left with the unresolved issue and feelings of resentment – resenting your partner for not changing and yourself for staying in a relationship that does not fully meet your needs.  Over time, these feelings of resentment, and possibly anger, will poison your relationship, ultimately compromising your bond.  Before reaching the breaking point where your partnership becomes irreparable, considered the following suggestions in lieu of an ultimatum.  

Teach Your Partner How to Treat You

When you teach your partner how to treat you, you are setting boundaries.  Modeling to your partner what is and is not acceptable in your relationship, by simply respecting the boundaries you set, you are ultimately drawing a line that illustrates how you prefer to be treated and things you will not compromise on.  Through maintaining your own boundaries, your partner should be able to establish a sense of your wants and needs.  However, if your partner is not picking up on your subtle or overt hints, it is time to open the channels of verbal communication.    

Clearly Communicate Your Want and Needs

Essentially, ultimatums are an effort to control your partner.  You are aggressively requesting your needs to be met - or else. Maybe you have communicated these needs numerous times before declaring an ultimatum, and maybe you have not. In your perspective, you have made your needs clear, but unless you explicitly communicated what you want or need in a relationship, your partner may be unaware.

Overall, ultimatums may result because of a breakdown in communication, leaving you feeling unheard.  Next time you feel forced into a corner and see an ultimatum as the only available option, try to clearly communicate your needs to your partner.  This can be as simple as saying, “I would like some extra help with the laundry.  Can you help me fold the clothes tonight?”  With open channels of communication, you are able to share your wants and needs in a calmer, more rational state of mind.  

Work Toward a Compromise

If the behavior is something irritating, but not a deal breaker, use the newly open channels of communication to come to a compromise.  In a relationship there are two people who both have needs; taking your partner’s needs into consideration shows you value them.  As your relationship grows and changes, you need to be flexible enough to renegotiate expectations and rules.  Determine if you are comfortable bending your boundary and what that would look like for you.

However, if your partner’s behavior is absolutely something you cannot compromise on – working
long hours, drug or alcohol abuse, cheating, putting others before your relationship – it may be time for you to consider your own well being and exit the relationship before you find yourself becoming too resentful of your partner.

Remember, a true ultimatum involves you leaving the relationship.  If you and your partner have reached a breaking point and an ultimatum is your only option, you must be prepared to follow through if changes are not made.  If you are not ready to end the relationship, an ultimatum will only damage your relationship, and there are less aggressive avenues to venture down when asking for your needs to be met.    

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor and Intern for The Marriage and Family Clinic. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in a relationship; simultaneously helping them cultivate happiness to maintain the fulfilling relationship they share with their partner. 

The Little Things that Make a Big Difference for Marriage


You want your love to last? Sure, we all do. But not everyone does what it takes to make it happen. Don’t worry--it isn’t big, sweeping changes, lavish anniversary gifts, or exotic getaways that make the difference. Indeed, with our world of constant distraction, marriage experts agree that it’s actually the little things that matter most.

Little Things: Your Thoughts

First, consider how you think about your spouse. Are you grateful for his hard work around the house? Are you glad she takes such great care of the kids? Do you still see the little quirks that you loved when you first met as adorable or have they become annoying? Choosing your lens makes a difference, and we get to choose! When he comes home late, is your first thought that he’s selfish and thoughtless? Or that he must be exhausted from such a big day? When she doesn’t cook dinner, do you think she’s lazy or think about how great she is at helping the kids with homework? How we explain our spouse’s behavior affects our feelings toward our spouse, and our feelings affect our behavior. And our behavior, loving or not, kind or not, understanding or not, directly affects our spouse. Check regularly throughout the day if you are focused on the good things about your spouse and what you are grateful for. If you’re not, then make a quick mental shift--it will make a difference.

Little Things: Your Words

Next, consider the words you use with your spouse. Take a moment to say “I love you” to your husband before he leaves for work--the effect will be more than momentary. Take time to tell your wife she’s beautiful at some point during the day, whether it’s when she first wakes up or when she’s gotten dolled up for date night. Tell him you’re proud of him for everything he does for your family, or tell her your grateful that she mowed the lawn. It doesn’t take long to do--but the feelings those words create make a big impact.

Little Things: Acts of Kindness

Third, ask yourself, what have I done for my spouse lately? Actions speak loud and clear. It doesn’t have to be repainting the whole house or making a 7-course meal to get your spouse’s attention. Little things like a glass of orange juice in the morning, a foot rub after a long day, a love note on the steering wheel, or a quick call to say “hello” show that you care. Tell her a joke you found funny or ask his opinion about the new drapes before you buy. Be the first one to apologize for your part in a dispute. Meet your man at the door when he comes home and surprise him with a passionate kiss. Bring home her favorite ice cream. Let your spouse know you care. These are the little gestures that create loving affection in marriage and clearly show your spouse that their happiness is your happiness.

Any couple can strengthen their marriage by remembering that love is more than a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is about intentionally doing the little things regularly, over time, that say “I’m thinking of you” and “I want whatever makes you happy” and “I’m glad we’re still together.” It doesn’t take long. It just takes commitment. If you want to stay in love, then get to work at loving your partner in little ways every day. You’ll feel the difference.

Heidi Poelman is the author of The Two-Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love. She studied communication at Brigham Young University (BA) and Wake Forest University (MA). Heidi and her husband, Scott, have been married for 14 years and have three children with one more on the way. Learn more at 

Unhappy Marriage: End It Or Save it for the Kids?


Holly Easterby may be someone who’s very much interested in fashion given the nature of her work, but still says that relationships is what really shapes that character of kids. She mostly writes about kids fashion at Bonza Brats but takes the time to contribute education and family articles to websites like this one. In this article, she talks about unhappy marriages. 

Marriage is not always a promise of a life paved in roses. Men propose to the woman that they love with the most expensive ring that their wallets could afford. Women on the other hand accept it with the thought that their dream finally came true. But when the honeymoon is over, reality hits you in the face. You thought she had the most beautiful face on earth but discovered that she’s bad at handling finances. You thought he was the perfect romantic but now forgets your anniversaries and even your birthdays, too. Now that you have kids with you, should you keep your promise of ‘til death do you part for their sake?

How a Bad Marriage Affects the Whole Family

When couples fight, may this be seen or unseen, the whole family is able to feel that there is something wrong. An unhappy marriage can have these detrimental effects:
1. Kids will mirror your relationship. Your kids see you as their role models, even when they say that they will never ever copy your bad habits. Shouting at each other in front of the kids on a regular basis, or being sarcastic with each other- your kids will think that these things are normal and will later on adapt this in their own relationships.

2. You won’t be effective as a parent. You can lose your confidence when you are unhappy with your partner. A person can only share what he or she has. And without confidence, you may not feel competent enough to raise your kids.

3. You and your spouse are emotionally damaged. A bad marriage can really hurt, no matter what the cause. It will drain you mentally and emotionally.

Why Marriage is Important for Kids

Experts on the other hand agree that staying together as a married couple could be better for the kids for these reasons:

1. Financial stability. Two heads are considered better than one at the workplace when there is a need to brainstorm for ideas. In a family, two parents working could mean higher combinedmonthly salary. Why it matters? You can secure not only the basic needs but also education of your kids. Furthermore, you could have excess money to spare on family trips, toys and for your personal needs.

2. Tension to kids is high for divorced couples. Divorce is said to be more damaging for the kids compared to that of a low conflict bad marriage. The differing views of the parents could put a stress on the kids, making them confused whose side to take.

3. Gender issues is not a problem. Girls rely on their moms as their role models and the boys on their dads. With both parents inside the house, kids won’t be so much confused about their roles as a boy or a girl.

The Wrong Reasons to Stay Married 

But the very reasons why you need to keep the marriage alive could also be the wrong reasons why you are staying in it:

1. For the kids. Although some would suggest that as a parent, you should put the needs of your kids before your own feelings, the marriage was initially a relationship between you and your partner. Just as mentioned earlier, you can’t give what you don’t have. A marriage should make you grow together as a family. If this is eating you emotionally, it will eventually rub off to the other members of the family. Love is what binds you together as a family. Living in anger and hate is not a great way to raise kids.

2. For the marriage vow. Even though they are very unhappy about their marriages, many couples still choose to stay together. Why? Their family and the society expects it from them. Some people have strong ties to their traditional beliefs to a point that they would prioritize these over their own happiness.

3. For financial reasons. When divorce happens, you do not just decide which kids goes with whom. You may need to part with half of your assets too unless you have a prenuptial agreement.
Should You Try Mending Your Marriage?
Your marriage could still be salvageable though. All couples go through some rough times and your situation could still be fixed. The solution will depend on why it happened in the first place. This will of course require that both should be willing to give the marriage a try. Self-reflection is very important in the process if mending marriages. Were you being too sarcastic with your comments for the past few months? Maybe it’s time that you practice better communication. Do you insist on eating at the Japanese restaurant every time you try to have a date but he clearly loves Italian food? Why not practice being considerate and go to his favorite restaurant for a change? Sometimes, couples fight about small stuff that can be mended with a bit of consideration and understanding. You could also try marriage counselling in resolving conflicts with your spouse.

Why You Ought to End It 

There are situations though that you will require you to cut your marriage ties for good. One valid reason is physical abuse. Another is when you have tried all possible means to get along but nothing really worked for you. If being together is no longer doing anyone any good, then you and your spouse are better off living without each other.

Final Thoughts

No doubt, divorce will have a negative effect on kids. But so is being together as an unhappy couple.

Should you stay together or should you call it quits right now? Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with your answer to these questions. Do you still love your spouse? Can you see yourself smiling when you are with him or her? Do you think he or she is willing to work on your differences? Are you making your kids happy? Deep down, you know if it will still work or not. A marriage starts with you and your partner. It grows to include your kids. Love, respect, trust, and understanding are essential to make it work. If you no longer have these, you can’t have a marriage that will let you be happy together as a family.

Author: Holly Easterby

Holly's love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children's fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby

He Said/She Said: Can I Be In Love With No Attraction?


Dear Aaron & Rachel, 

I recently separated from my wife of twelve years.  I loved her very, very deeply, but, honestly, I was never very attracted to her.  So when she had to leave town for a job, we kind of fell apart - at my initiative. 

My question is, can this deep love circumvent the attraction issue? I love her so much but I guess I hope there is more to a relationship than obligatory sex and, for her, more than a relationship where your partner just makes love to you out of duty. I love her more than I can say, and we have years of beautiful memories. But must I let her go, though this separation just continues to break one another's hearts. I fear I'm walking away from the best person I've ever known and ever will know, and hurting her irreparably in the process.


Loving With No Attraction

She Said 

Like most men, you are a visual creature. You need to feel a physical attraction to enjoy sex and romance with your partner. It sounds like you've hoped and tried to feel this for a long time with your wife - because of your deep love for her - but it hasn't been there. If you were never very physically attracted to her, what attracted you to her and kept you interested enough to stay in the marriage for all these years? Maybe it would help to recall the things that you did find initially attractive about her. Are they still there? Can they be rekindled?

Do you think there is anything she can do to be more physically attractive to you? Is it as simple as losing weight or changing her hair style? Or is it something much deeper that prevents you from feeling attraction? On the other hand, do you think you can change something about your mindset and find a way to enjoy sex with her even if you don't think she's your "dream girl" in the looks department?

If the two of you can't find that passion, it would be hard to sustain a romantic/sexual relationship. Your love would be platonic friendship or like the close relationship of a sister and a brother. You have to ask yourself: If things do not change, would the companionship be enough for you both, or do you need to be in a marriage with passion and romance? What would make you happiest? There are a lot of questions to be answered. Following the truth will lead you in the right direction. Best of luck to you both!

He Said

This is a tough one. Scientists have identified at least three critical components of love. These include: passion, romance and commitment. All three of these are important components to a loving relationship - but you don't equal amounts of all three, Some couples have strong commitment to each other but not a lot of passion or romance - and they're happy like that. Other couples have a lot of passion and commitment but not a lot of romance. And they're happy like that, too. No two relationships are alike And what makes you feel in love is a very personal thing that only you can answer for yourself. 

You obviously have a lot of consideration for your partner and don't want to hurt her feelings but you don't mention a lot of passion or romance. You also don't mention a lot of commitment if you have recently separated. So it doesn't seem like there are many of the three types of love going on. You need to ask yourself what really makes you want to stay. 

In the end, I wholeheartedly believe that a couple can make just about any relationship work if they're willing to do the work and compromise. You need to ask yourself what will make yourself feel attracted to her (if anything) and if you feel you could be happy in a relationship with her again if you're attracted to her. Don't judge your relationship by external standards and use your own internal compass as to what you feel you want your relationship to look like in order for you (and your partner) to be happy. 

How to Talk to Your Young Child About Divorce


Divorce is hard. Even under the best of circumstances, when parents decide that a divorce will ultimately benefit their own and their family’s health and happiness long term, the short term is hard. There are many resources to help families during this challenging time but it can be grey when it comes down to the details. What do I say to my child? How much do I share? What would benefit them to know? These are hard questions and the specific answers are different for every family and child. But here are some general guidelines to help with a tough conversation.

Present a United Front

It’s important for children to not only hear you say that Mom and Dad will still be around but also see it in action. Sitting down with them together shows them that even though Mom and Dad might be separating, they are still on the same team for the child. Talking with them together can be tough, especially when emotions are high and might not be mutual. But this is an important time to present a united front and talk with your child together.

Keep it Age Appropriate

Some children might ask a lot of questions including “Why?” Keeping this age appropriate will ultimately benefit your child. Your child does not need to know the dirty details of your adult arguments and events that led up to the divorce. Sometimes, a short answer about Mom and Dad not being happy and choosing to live apart can be sufficient. Use discretion when providing additional details and reasons and try your best to stay away from information that portrays Mom or Dad in a negative way. The single biggest complaint I hear from children as a therapist of separating and divorcing families is that they wish they knew less about what happened between their parents.

Keep it Concrete – how will it affect your child?

Make it clear that a divorce is between the parents. Parents can’t divorce their kids and let them know that you don’t want to! Let them know how things might change, such as living in different houses, but emphasize that that doesn’t change the way Mom and Dad care for them. This list of children’s rights in divorce provides an excellent list of topics you might consider. If there are still unknown answers, it’s ok to let your child know that you are still figuring it out. It’s important to stick to the truth. Say “I love you” and more than once.

Ultimately, every parent’s goal is to have this tough conversation and leave your child feeling loved and supported. Your child might react in a number of ways - let them know that whatever they feel in that moment is ok. Help them to find words for their feelings and ways to appropriately express those feelings. This list is a short guide to the first of many conversations that you will have. Listen when they want to talk about it – even if it’s hard for you to hear. By being available to listen and providing support and love to your child you are handling a hard situation in the best way possible and setting the stage for an amazing future relationship with your child. 

Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

4 Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


At one point or another you may have heard or even uttered the familiar saying “you’re invading my personal bubble.”  However, beyond that concept you may find if difficult to understand boundaries, viewing them from a narrow lens.  Yet, in every daily interaction we have with another person, boundaries are present.  Although your basic understanding of boundaries may be in reference to your physical space and an imaginary line others should not cross, boundaries can also be mental, sexual, or emotional.

Boundaries are established when you define your responsibilities, set limits with others, stand strong in manipulating situations, and say “no” when you really mean no.  They determine how you will treat both others and yourself and allow others to treat you.  Because you teach others how to treat you through establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, they are essential in cultivating and sustaining healthy relationships.

While a good boundary may be viewed as one that protects or emotionally distances you from others, that thought could not be more wrong.  Healthy or good boundaries are those that allow you to remain an individual in a relationship, remaining true to your values and beliefs, while being open to new experiences, differing perspectives, values, or worldviews.  Healthy boundaries have been described as having the ability to protect us without isolating us; they keep your individuality intact.  You know where you end and others begin.  Because boundaries are a part of your daily life, knowing how to set and maintain healthy boundaries can enhance your relationships.    

Know your limits

Whether this is knowing what situations make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, slowing down a relationship that is moving too fast, or declining an invitation for a restful night in, knowing your limits helps you identify when your line is about to be crossed and empowers you to deliver a strong, confident no without feeling guilty.  When determining your limits, pay attention to the signals your body sends you, are you feeling butterflies, is your heart beating faster, are you feeling short of breath?  These signals are more than likely indicating that your line is about to, or has been, crossed.  

Get comfortable with confrontation

Whether your line is on the verge of being crossed or has been crossed, you might neglect to communicate your boundaries out of a fear of confrontation and upsetting others.  However, when asking for your needs to be met, confrontation does not need to be viewed in a negative context.  Most of the time, people treat us how they expect to be treated, without realizing you may be uncomfortable with their behavior.  Simply confronting someone by saying what is making you uncomfortable and asking him or her to stop allows you to build healthy boundaries.  

Communicate your boundaries

When setting boundaries, communication is key.  Although you confronted the other person and asked him or her to stop, you now need to communicate your boundary.  You cannot expect other to know your limits, just as they cannot expect you to know theirs.  Through communicating and asking for your needs to be met so your boundary is not crossed, you are actually teaching others how to treat appropriately treat you.  However, if you are expecting other to treat you accordingly, you must first respect your own boundaries.  Therefore, it is your job to maintain the boundaries you set.  If you slide out of guilt, you are teaching others that you can be manipulated into changing the way you expect to be treated.

Maintain the boundary

You might have a moment where you give in to ease tension or because it is simply easier.  However, respecting the boundaries you have set through gentle reminders, both to others and yourself, will enable you to retain the boundaries.

In the beginning, setting boundaries feels difficult.  I recommend choosing one person to practice setting limits with, working your way up to more challenging individuals, such as a partner or parent. During this process, there might be a time or two when you don't uphold your boundary.  Try not to get discouraged, as this is a learning process.  Be gentle on yourself and consider how you will handle the situation differently in the future.

A Couple Who Makes Love Together Stays Together


When I got married, I got a lot of marriage advice. I got advice from my parents, friends, grandparents, people I met in the store that I didn't even know. They would usually tell me the same old trite things: Never go to bed angry, always say I love you, blah, blah, blah. As I look back I realize this bad marriage advice was probably never meant to actually be advice at all. IT was actually more of a conversation maker that creates conversation with someone getting married. It wasn't actually good advice at all.

Now that I've been married ten years and have been a marriage counselor for five years, I have a lot better marriage advice for couples than the same old trite ones you've heard before. And this advice works well for couples in all stages of marriage; whether you're recently engaged or have been married for forty years this advice is great to not only create a happy marriage but create a lasting marriage. The advice is: a couple who makes love together stays together.

Three Kinds of Sex in a Relationship

Sex is a metaphor for your marriage. If the sex is bland and boring, it's likely that your relationship is bland and boring, too. And if sex is hot and spicy but lacks intimacy, your relationship is probably hot and spicy but lacks intimacy, too. The bedroom and the rest of your relationship are inseparably connected. No matter what the bedroom is like, sex can be broadly categorized into three categories:

1) Screwing & Being Screwed. This is the type of sex where you or your partner just want to get off. The sex is fun and can be hot but it's not very romantic or connecting.

2) Routine Sex. This is the kind of sex that you have because it's been a while since you did it last and it might be a long time until you get a chance to have a really good romp again. So you just do it because you can.

3) Making Love. This is the romantic, connecting kind of sex. This sex is exciting, connecting and intimate. You usually cuddle and talk afterwards.

Making Love Together Makes a Couple Stay Together

Of all the different kinds of sex you're having, the one to make sure you're having plenty of is the third kind: Making Love. Unfortunately, this is probably the one that you'reing do the least of. Because you're so busy, most of your sex falls into the routine variety. You normally do it in the morning or when you're both getting ready for bed at night because it's the most convenient. There isn't a lot of foreplay or build up because you just want to go to bed. 

The first kind (screwing and being screwed) happens sometimes, too. Usually during makeup sex or when you're just so hot you and your partner sneak off into the bathroom for a quickie while your kids are watching TV. 

But the third kind (making love) is the one that will keep your relationship together. This one forces you to make love to your partner. This one forces you to be in tune with your partners' needs, wants and desires. Making love happens outside the bedroom as much as it does inside the bedroom. And I don't just mean in exotic places. Making love happens outside the bedroom by doing fun things together, talking romantically with each other and flirting, etc. Then when it comes time to physically make love, all that pent up affection comes out in the bedroom and it's an experience you both cherish. 

Don't Neglect the Bedroom

A couples' sexual relationship is vitally important to a happy marriage. And because couples who make love together stay together, it's important not to neglect the bedroom. Regardless of what marriage advice you got when you got married, don't forget to be making love often to your spouse. And if you're not, it might be time for a welcome change in the bedroom. 

Teens Online: Keeping Your Child Safe from Cyberbullying


It’s no secret that as long as popular social media sites have existed, the virtual distance between computer screens has acted as a veil behind which many bullies feel safer lashing out in disrespectful or harmful ways.

Our children are up against unfavorable odds when it comes to cyberbullying and educating them on how to handle it is their best line of defense.

Cyberbullying is only becoming a bigger problem as the idea of anonymity online becomes increasingly popular. Sites like, which allows questions from strangers, or apps like whisper, which allows anonymous conversations through picture messages, are making it easier for bullies to get away with leaving harmful comments.

In addition to teaching them how to keep a swivel in their neck when they walk down a dark street; hide their personal belongings when in public; and the age-old ‘never talk to strangers,’ it is now essential to show them some digital ropes. So don’t hide your head in the sand as a technically challenged, antiquated thinking adult but instead open your eyes to the many sordid actions your child may be challenged with on a daily basis.

Break the Barrier

With statistics showing approximately 25% of young people being bullied on the internet; 65% witnessing cyberbullying; and a whopping 90% admitting that they would never tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs; it is now or never to break this barrier.

If your child is still young enough to be shown some savvy digital moves then you are in luck. If you cover some ground rules when handing over an expensive, powerful device such as a smartphone or tablet chances are they will have a healthier transition.

However, if you are raising a tween or teen you may have to implement a whole new set of requirements for them to follow to keep their device. This can be met with extreme adversity but through the help of your partner and/or a professional such as a local cyber-police person or talk therapist hopefully your child will comply.

If not, tough love may have to be put into place until they are willing to comply (over 27% of parents take their child’s device away until they can prove better digital practices).

Do Your Research

There are many websites that offer their take on how to prevent cyberbullying.

Most suggest fear based remedies that can end up being counterproductive as this tactic may make your child hyper vigilant and paranoid. Stick to sites that teach a more intellectual approach toward the many aspects of your child’s digital as well as physical world.

Offering them the opportunity to look through well taught eyes rather than panic at every situation they encounter will, in the long run, be the best gift you can give them. A fearful child will inevitably grow up to become a fearful adult and living a life of fear can be fraught with all sorts of unwanted scenarios including constant illness, misinformation, anger, victimization, difficult relationships and a constant challenge within career advancement.

The Tease Effect

Outside of computer communication, teasing can be witnessed as an underlying passive/aggressive tactic toward bullying or being bullied.

As it may begin somewhat innocently, when children tease one another their back and forth banter can quickly escalate into an ugly scenario. It is a way that children explore their ability to see how far their controlling tactics can be utilized.

When in the presence of an adult it can rapidly be quelled with some talk lessons on the damage or potential damage it carries. However, when it is transferred to a digital platform teasing remains beyond an adults supervision until it is too late.

A Scary Manifestation

Through what is referred to as the “Disinhibition Effect” bullying can easily manifest on the web a lot faster and harsher than in person. It is described by researchers at the Department of Psychology, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey in an article titled, ‘The online disinhibition effect’ as, “While online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person.

This article explores six factors that interact with one another in creating this effect: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity [being unaccountable], solipsistic introjection [regarding only one self], dissociative imagination [separating from reality], and minimization of authority.”

It Won’t Go Away

Your child may seem well adjusted to school, friends, clubs, sports and so on for as they grow older face-to-face bullying lessens substantially. However, a study by the University of California - Riverside Graduate School of Education which was published in the journal, School Psychology Quarterly titled ‘Examination of the Change in Latent Statuses in Bullying Behaviors Across Time,’ researchers found that as students’ age they are verbally and physically bullied less, but cyberbullied more.

School Based Intervention

The University of California study recommended some school-based interventions as published by Science Daily. Here are a few to consider:

     Considering the oldest students were more likely to engage in bullying, and bullying perpetration increased after students transitioned into middle school, school personnel should focus their intervention resources on students in sixth and eighth grades.

     Interventions should teach social-emotional learning skills to students and appropriate ways to navigate new peer groups and social hierarchies.

     Considering the gender differences for those that bully, different interventions may be warranted for boys and girls. Interventions for girls may focus on relationship issues and appropriate use of social media, while interventions for boys may address physical bullying.

     It is important for teachers and parents to talk to students about cyber safety and to supervise internet and mobile device use to help prevent cyber victimization. It is also important for adults to take reports of verbal/relational bullying and cyberbullying seriously and to intervene in all cases.

The researchers go on to warn that school as well as parental intervention for bullying should address each individual victim and perpetrator experience rather than attempt a wide curve education as a “one size fits all” approach.

Whether it is utilizing tracking software to determine the severity of cyberbullying your child may be involved in, talk therapy, community and/or school involvement, using any means necessary can stop this destructive cycle.

Amy Williams is a freelance writer based in Southern California. As a mother of two, helping parents understand their teens is something she is very passionate about. You can follow her on Twitter.

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