May 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Vanquishing the Dragons: A New Children’s Book Helps Kids Deal With Bullies

Bullying has always existed. In recent years, parents and educators are seeking more effective ways to stop it. As a social worker with many years of experience, I’ve seen many children in my practice who suffer from bullying. But what if you could stop the bullying with a simple, effective intervention?

When I spoke to Izzy Kalman, the founder of a program called Bullies to Buddies, I knew immediately that his approach fit perfectly with my own approach to helping kids. Izzy gives bullying victims the tools to learn how to stop reacting with anger, which only encourages and energizes bullies. Like Izzy, I strive to give my clients simple and transformative tools that change lives.

After meeting with Izzy, I began to think about different ways that his concepts could be easily taught to children. What if I put those ideas into a children’s story? Later that day, while waiting in the queue for carpool, the character of Lazer the Loser strode into my brain. On the spot, I imagined his story. “Lazer Becomes a Winner” (Menucha Publishers) is now available in Jewish bookstores.

It’s not the first time I’ve used a children’s story to help children negotiate their challenges. My first book “Menucha for Menucha,” is about a little girl who can’t keep her intense feelings under control. It seems like wherever she goes, a storm cloud appears, until she learns to express and master her feelings. Parents have reported so much success with their tantrum-prone children just from reading the story to them. One family told me that their kids take turns sleeping with their Menucha book. I’ve even had kids act out their storm cloud for me!

Following the success of Menucha, and after the horrific events of October 7, I began to wonder if I could use storytelling to help the countless anxious and traumatized children in Eretz Yisrael. The result was “The Elephant in My Room,” a story and coloring book about a boy who struggles with anxiety and sleeplessness after experiencing bombings in his town. It was gratifying to hear how much the story reached Israeli children and helped them talk about and navigate their intense feelings. One mother said, “My son did not sleep well for weeks, but when I read him the story, we discussed it and he finally slept!”

It was at this point that I resolved to bring the magic of storytelling to the problem of bullying. “Lazer Becomes a Winner” offers new tools for children, parents, counselors and others in the form of a story of a little boy who suffers from bullying at school.

As I wrote the story, I thought about all the children who are bullied-—at school, at home, by someone in their life, even by family members. I started reading it with some of the children I see in therapy and their parents, and we began to see positive changes in their social situations. One mother wrote: “We LOVED the Lazer story! My son Tzvi, age nine, identified strongly with Lazer and said a few times, ‘He sounds like me.’ (Like my son, Lazer loves chess and is a good student.) We discussed the strategy and he laughed at some of the comebacks Lazer gave the bullies.This definitely got us thinking how to help Tzvi learn to handle the boys in school… We are beginning to role play and feel equipped. Most importantly, Tzvi feels hopeful, and even imagines himself becoming a winner like Lazer!”

Just the other day, I met with another mother whose daughter is being bullied. I read her “Lazer Becomes a Winner”” and we started to role play. Within minutes, she arrived at an “aha!” moment. “I can’t wait to get the book to bring to my daughter,” she said. “Now I have a path forward!”

The successes from all these simple, fun and validating story interventions have been incredible. These days our children are suffering, more than ever, from complicated mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to ADHD and ODD, and they and their parents are begging for simple, sensible interventions to help reset mental health and healing.

That, in a nutshell, is my mission: I strive to support parents in helping their children navigate their intense emotions and thrive. I aim to build every child into his or her best self. One day, I’d love to give a TedTalk about using simple mental health tools to produce transformative results. Sometimes a children’s book—one story, one idea, read over and over — can have a huge impact that transcends even the realms of traditional therapy.

I’m so excited to share the publication of” Lazer Becomes a Winner.” I believe it offers tools and hope to children and their families who are struggling with bullying and other similar challenges.

For more information and to reach Yael Walfish, LCSW, go to CenterForGreatness.com

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles