Here’s what Shaina has to share!

What Exactly is Bullying?

 By Shaina Goelman, AMFT

                   As a therapist, a question I often get from parents and administrators is what exactly is bullying? Or does so and so behavior count as bullying? I’m here to help give some insight! 

                  Bullying can be defined as unwanted, repeated and aggressive behavior (key word aggressive, bullying must include aggressive behavior) that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying behaviors include making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone either physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose. 

In a 2017 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year. Of students ages 12–18, about 13 percent reported being the subject of rumors; 13 percent reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted; 5 percent reported being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5 percent reported being excluded from activities on purpose. Additionally, 4 percent of students reported being threatened with harm, 2 percent reported that others tried to make them do things they did not want to do, and 1 percent reported that their property was destroyed by others on purpose.             

                  There are also several different types of bullying to be aware of: 

·       Physical bullying which includes hitting, kicking, pushing or an unwanted physical behavior

·       Verbal bullying: name calling, insults, teasing, verbal intimidation and homophobic/racist/anti-semetic remarks

·       Social bullying: spreading rumors, damaging someone’s reputation and/or causing humiliation

·       Cyber bullying: abusive texts/posts/images/videos, excluding people online, spreading rumors or gossip or impersonating someone online.

This all might sounds scary and daunting, and it can be but here are some tools to help your child combat bullying.

1.     Talk to your child’s teacher or the school administration- While your child might object to this as they fear it might make things worse, most schools have a zero tolerance policy for bullying and will do what they can to make sure that it doesn’t exist on their campus. 

2.     Communicate!- Your child might be showing symptoms of anxiety or depression but not telling you what’s wrong. Ask them about their friends, who they play with at recess, who they talk to and sit next to at school. The more you talk to you child, the more information you’ll get and you might be able to figure out if there’s a problem. You can also reach out to your child’s teacher and see if they’ve noticed anything that they might not have brought to your attention.

3.     Encourage your child to speak up- Not only speak up for themselves but if they notice another kid getting bullied then standing up for them as well. 

4.     Set a good example- Your kids hear everything that you say when they’re around. So if you’re talking badly about someone or being rude to a waiter, they’ll pick up on that and might think that it’s acceptable behavior. 

The culture of bullying can’t change unless we each start to make little changes to prevent it. Talk about it, ask questions and if need be seek outside help! 

For any questions or comments, please contact me at

September 18th, 2019

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How to Combat Stress at the Beginning of the School Year

 By Shaina Goelman, AMFT

                 Folks, school is back in session! It’s the time for back to school shopping, picking up textbooks, get a lay of the campus, and did I mention the shopping?? Going back to school means a return to routine, tests, homework, seeing old friends and making new ones, adjusting to a new schedule, transitions, and learning new subjects. It’s tiring just to think about, so let’s review some tips for teens and parents to combat stress at the beginning of the school year.

1.    Get into a routine as soon as possible.

Teens, I know it’s fun to stay up really late and sleep in. Unfortunately those don’t mesh well with waking up early and staying focused in class. Try your best to establish a routine as soon as you can. Set yourself up for success with an attainable bedtime and be sure to disconnect from your phone at least 20 minutes before you snooze to make sure you give your brain a break. Then proceed to ask yourself, what is a good routine to create when you get home from school? Creating small rituals such as getting home, having a snack, decompressing from the day for half an hour, sitting down for homework, having dinner when you’re done, hoping in the shower, and then resting for the rest of the evening can give your mind and body a sense of predictability.  However, it doesn’t stop there! Continuing routines throughout the weekend can also help you stay on track throughout the week instead of having to restart everything every Monday, which can take time to adjust to. 

Parents, you can help facilitate these routines! Not only will it make your teens life easier, but it will make your life easier as well. The greatest challenge is to do this without constant nagging and verbal combat, which is often the case. The best way to approach the creation of a routine is to sit down with your teen and create a schedule collaboratively. Be sure to ask them about their expectations, needs, and wants, and be sure to share yours. Compromising can make a big difference. Your teen will be much more likely to follow through with these ideas if they feel their needs and wants are being respected as well.

2.     Be patient!

Parents, having a routine will make things easier, but as you all know, sometimes it takes time to have that routine stick. Transitions from a mindset of rest and relaxation to full blown hard work and focus can be a challenge, even for teens. They aren’t just starting new classes and going into a new grade, they are also adapting to new people, new environments, new social expectations, and new curriculum, which only gets more challenging the older they get. Try and remember what it was like for you when you were their age. Being patient with them will only help ease any tensions in the house and send them a message that you are someone they can reach out to for support when they are struggling. Keep in mind that being patient doesn’t mean you can’t be firm. On the contrary, having strong boundaries and ensuring the structure is in place is something that will help them thrive.

Teens, you too can be patient as well. It might take a couple weeks to adjust to the new school year and be comfortable with all of your classes, social obligations, and after school activities. Think back to last year, how long did it take you to feel comfortable? Just know, that soon everything will calm down and fit into place. Working with your folks and support system to develop a routine can be a huge help. Take the initiative and ask them for help when you face things that are challenges. You would be surprised at the type of support you get.

3.     Talk to each other.

Parents, tensions flare and things can get out of hand quickly especially when big transitions occur and if there is no open and kind communication. It can be hard for your teens to come to you with what’s bothering them if they think you’re going to lash out and be mad at them. Come from a place of compassion and understanding so that they will want to come to you when things bother them later on. Maybe set a time every night where you talk about things that happened that day to make communication easier?

Teens, it might seem like your parents don’t understand anything that’s going on with you, but try and remember that they were in the same place you’re in now and they’ve been through it. Hard to believe, right? The other frustrating part is that we expect our folks to know simple things that feel natural and common to us. However, you must remember that your folks aren’t mind readers and it is only through your choice to open up and share that they will truly understand your feelings and experience. When your parent asks you “how was your day?” tell them! Don’t give them blanket statements just to appease them. Tell them about your world, educate them on what you think about, who you hang out with, what your thoughts are about the things you’re learning, etc. Give them a glimpse of what it’s like to be an active part of your life, because just as you feel disconnected from them, they can feel shut out from you. You are the master of change on this topic. Your choice to engage with them and open up about your life is going to give them the permission to share about themselves and create a more collaborative and open relationship.


If you or your teen need additional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at for more information and assistance.   

August 20, 2019

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