Exercising on a Budget: Making an impact without making a big investment

Editor’s note: This article is another in a series from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation about making healthy lifestyle choices on a budget. 

EXERCISING ON A BUDGET:

MAKING AN IMPACT WITHOUT MAKING A BIG INVESTMENT

By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

Are you one of those individuals who can easily find an excuse not to exercise? I had to do this. I had to do that. I have my kids. I’m tired. It’s dark out. It’s not in my budget to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. Well, you can cross that last one off your list of excuses—you can exercise if you’re on a budget and you don’t have to join a gym or invest big bucks. In fact, there are so many low-cost or free ways to exercise, by yourself or with your family, you may start to find those other excuses are no longer necessary.

According to the guidelines from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, individuals should have at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. So, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out how often and affordably you can fit exercise into your day and reach your 30 minute minimum without trying too hard or changing too much of your routine.

Everyday Exercises

Start small. Did you know that you can turn almost your entire day into an exercise routine? Consider:

• Using the self-check out at stores – not only is it faster, but scanning and bagging your

own groceries is more movement than you would normally get when using the regular

check-out lane.

• Taking the steps instead of the elevator – sound familiar? That’s because it works. If

you’re on the 25th floor, start small – go up a few flights and add more flights as you

progress.

• Cleaning your house – yes, you get exercise every time you vacuum, scrub the floor,

and polish the furniture—30 minutes of housework can burn up to 215 calories!

• Doing squats or lunges while brushing your teeth or waiting for the microwave.

• Balancing on one leg while drying your hair, shaving or putting makeup on.

• Doing exercises during commercials while watching your nightly TV—ab crunches,

squats, “jump” rope, march in place.

• Mowing the lawn and weeding the garden in spring and summer, and raking the leaves

and shoveling the snow during fall and winter.

• Parking in the farthest away space so you have a longer walk to the store.

 

Free Exercises

Perhaps you are interested in more structured exercise, not just what you can fit in where you can. There are many FREE things you can do to get started. Try:

• Walking or jogging – still the best bargain there is. However, the one investment you do

want to make is in good athletic shoes.

• Putting on some music and dancing.

• Going online and finding free workouts on YouTube.com

• Finding an exercise program on TV.

• Checking out exercise DVDs from your local library.

• Hiking and biking – check out http://www.missionhealthyliving.org for local parks, bike trails

and hiking spots in our local area. (Check out local parks at the Parks & Rec page at PositivelyPtown.com, too!)

• Strength training – using just your body as resistance. Try squats, lunges, calf raises,

push ups, tricep dips and crunches. Not sure how? Look it up on YouTube.

• Scouting around in your basement or garage for old fitness equipment that you may

have purchased long ago, but forgot about. You may find a basketball, tennis racket,

Frisbee, paddle ball games, baseballs, step equipment, etc. that you can begin to use

again.

 

Low-Budget At-Home Gyms

Having an at-home gym does not mean you have to invest in a costly machine. There are many ways to build a gym at home that will not set your budget back. Consider:

• Making your own weights from full soup cans, laundry detergent bottles and water

bottles; milk or orange juice jugs filled with sand; and PVC pipes filled with sand.

• Seeking out used equipment from garage sales, relatives or friends, Craigslist,

Play it Again Sports stores and Ebay.

• Making a modest investment in versatile, but inexpensive equipment: medicine ball,

jump rope, dumbbell set, resistance tubing, exercise/stability ball, mirror, step bench.

 

Other Options

Finally, just when you think there cannot possibly be more choices to exercising on a budget—good news, there is! Consider:

• Seeking out low-cost, local fitness classes that are not associated with a gym.

A Fresh Start Fitness has a number of workout choices, and the Ballroom on High

offers Zumba classes.

• Starting a fitness class at work if you have the interest and the room—kettlebells,

Zumba, yoga, etc. There are many local trainers and teachers who may be looking to

teach extra classes. The more people you get, the less expensive it will be!

• Starting a fitness class at work, not with a trainer, but with a DVR player. Take turns

bringing in your fitness DVDs and get moving.

• Looking into low-cost gym options. Planet Fitness offers a membership for only $10

a month and the YWCA also has low-cost options.

Above all else, exercise should be fun—if it is, you are more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you need motivation, buddy up with a friend or involve your family. And now you know there are many different inexpensive and free choices for exercise that will not impact your budget, but will have a big impact on your health. Get started today!

About the Foundation – The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

Wellness Foundation Helps Community Garden Grow

The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation recently awarded a grant in the amount of $30,000 to the Preservation Pottstown/Mosaic Community Land Trust to build Pottstown’s first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street. The Foundation’s grant will allow for the construction of up to 42 raised beds for planting and the installation of fencing, paths, a trellis, rain barrels, compost bins, benches, and a play area for children.

“We are honored and grateful to receive this grant from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, which will allow us to complete Pottstown’s first community garden this spring,” said David Jackson, President of Mosaic Community Land Trust. “The garden will greatly increase access to healthy foods and already has many supporters in Pottstown and surrounding communities.”

Community gardens are a growing trend particularly in vacant lots in urban areas. They are viewed not only as a way for people who have limited access to full-service supermarkets for fresh produce to improve their nutrition, but also as a way for neighborhood residents to reconnect. Residents pay a small annual membership fee and are given a small plot in which to grow vegetables and flowers. Educational workshops will teach members how to garden and what tasks need to be completed throughout the entire growing season. Jackson noted, “Some of the additional benefits of a community garden include: improving the quality of life for neighborhood residents, stimulating social interaction, beautification of the neighborhood, and improving opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.”

A key to the success of a community garden is the development of partnerships. Jackson includes as Mosaic’s partners for this project: Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, Borough of Pottstown, Pottstown School District, Genesis Housing Corporation, Susquehanna Bank, Lowes, Davey Tree Experts, Lointerhome, and many individual donors and volunteers.

The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation enhances the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. The Foundation was formed in July 2003 with the proceeds obtained from the sale of the Pottstown Memorial Medical Center. Non-profits interested in learning more about the Foundation’s grants program and application process should visit their website at www.pottstownfoundation.org. For great ideas on how to create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, check out their online community, Mission Healthy Living, at www.missionhealthyliving.org

Eating healthy on a budget

Editor’s note: Positively!Pottstown periodically posts articles from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. During the holiday season it may seem difficult to eat healthy, let alone eat healthy on a budget, but this article provides some inspiration and strategies sure to help you and your family throughout the year.

EATING HEALTHY WHILE ON A BUDGET:

ADVICE WHEN APPROACHING FOOD SHOPPING

By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

The grocery store has become a complex labyrinth of possibility, especially for families who desire healthy food on a smart budget. According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average number of items carried by a traditional grocery at the end of 2010 was a whopping 38,718. As consumers, we crave the concept of choice but are quickly overwhelmed by the multitude of options at our fingertips.

Having an exorbitant number of options may seem like a small worry; however, budget continues to challenge families who visit the grocery stores on average nearly twice per week.  According to the latest projections by the US government, grocery prices are expected to climb between 4% and 5% by the end of 2011. Many operate under the assumption that eating healthy equates to spending money. Therefore, a 5% price hike may hinder healthy decisions in favor of what is on sale or featured in coupons. Suddenly all of those options lead to bad decisions in the name of saving money.

Health and wellness are intrinsically linked to maintaining a sense of happiness, yet achieving them at a time of uncertainty leads to questionable behavior, even while grocery shopping. The past couple of years have encouraged consumers to hone their spending skills. Generally speaking, a smaller percentage of Americans are willing to spend on quality, unless they’re given good reason. For families, the fact that childhood obesity rates have been termed a national epidemic is just one reason to make smart and healthful choices in the grocery, as well as the kitchen.

It all begs the question: Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? With a little dedication, the answer is yes! First, consider your resources:

Plan ahead. The thought of planning your excursions to traditional supermarkets may seem like an unappealing step if you are not accustomed to it, but a little thoughtful strategy can go a long way. Generally, we crave instant gratification. When food shopping, it is easy to succumb to impulse purchases, which elevate expenses and usually equate to unhealthy prepared foods. A list gives consumers a sense of direction and purpose when navigating the aisles. In addition, consult, but don’t rely on, weekly flyers and coupons. Whereas they offer competitive pricing, they do not always pay attention to the healthiest choices. And just because you have coupons do not feel the need to use them. Especially if the foods are not something you normally use or are for unhealthy items.

Enjoy variety. While many of us call the traditional grocery our main source when food shopping, a plethora of options exist for consideration. For instance, farmers markets and roadside stands sell locally-grown produce, while specialty stores and mass retailers create a competitive market. Though it may take away some of the efficiency of the one-stop-shopping experience, it does create potential for more robust savings. It is all a matter of simply knowing your community.

Do-it-yourself. More Americans are returning to their gardens as a means of growing their own organic produce. The fresher the better; processed foods may seem enticing, but they lack the nourishment meant to support a smart diet. For families, gardening offers an engaging project that emphasizes and educates all members on the importance of healthy living. Also, consider the benefits of canning or freezing your produce, whether home-grown or store-bought. The laws of supply and demand dictate that seasonal foods have the potential to be less expensive. You may enjoy fresh produce throughout the year, just by thinking ahead, stocking up and preserving foods when pricing is right.

Eating smart. Americans love their fast food lifestyle. A diet that includes increased levels of refined flour, sugar, salt and fat, coupled with a decrease in physical activity has taken its toll on our collective well-being. According to recent comments by Dr. Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “The typical American diet is promoting major health problems, causing serious environmental pollution and unintentionally creating poor working conditions for those who harvest, process and prepare our food.”

In addition to improving shopping techniques, budget-conscious consumers must also consider how to eat smart and watch out for the foods that miss the healthy mark. Some suggestions:

  •  Eat less meat. Experts suggest that Americans indulge in their passion for meat more often than they should. By reducing intake, it is possible to invest in better quality meats to balance additional costs. Additionally, incorporating other sources of protein, such as poultry or beans, creates a more well-rounded diet.
  • Consider whole grains. Whether bread, cereal or pasta, steer clear of refined or white flour in favor of whole grains. As is the case with fruits and vegetables, whole grains offer a bevy of necessary vitamins and minerals to support a balanced diet.
  • Buy bulk in moderation. There is a difference between buying bulk paper supplies versus fresh fruits and vegetables. Unless you plan to preserve, can or freeze for later use, often produce will go to waste in refrigerators. Also, pay careful attention to expiration dates. Americans are especially guilty of throwing away spoiled food, with estimates suggesting anywhere from 25% to 40% of food purchased being disposed of annually.
  • Walk the perimeters. The adage is true – fresh food and baked goods typically line the outside edge of grocery stores, while processed and junk foods take up aisle space. Keep focused on your list and take to the aisles sparingly.
  • Drink more water. Sugary beverages equal empty calories and can easily raise your grocery tab. Water is essential, and in the best scenario, tap water is free.
  • Mix and match. Fashion stylists suggest that you need only a handful of items to create a versatile wardrobe. The same is true for food preparation. By planning ahead of time, you can outline family meals that stem from a standard group of healthy ingredients, while still offering the variety you crave.
  • Snack responsibly. It’s inevitable that snack foods will find their way into our grocery baskets. By including healthy snacks, as well as an indulgence or two, on your list, you can curb detrimental and pricy impulse purchases. 

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Making just a few behavioral shifts will strike the right balance between feeding your family responsibly while remaining on a budget. 

About the Foundation – The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

Squeeze in a visit to a park before the sun goes down!

Monacacy Hill Rec Area

It is an absolutely gorgeous day! If you’re reading this, you’re missing an incredible opportunity to enjoy one of the area’s many fabulous parks, playgrounds and trails before the next hurricane or snowstorm hits!

Please visit our Parks & Rec page to see where all the parks are in Pottstown and the surrounding area.

Last fall, Rosemary Keane and I visited all of them and blogged about them for the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. We found so many gems, and trust that you and your family have, too. These pages have gotten lots of hits over the past year, and we encourage you to keep checking them out and discovering the great outdoor resources that our section of southeastern Pennsylvania has to offer.

U.S. Army Reserve’s 78th Army Band to play at Sanatoga Park this Wednesday night

This Wednesday, July 13th, at 7pm, the 78th Army Band out of Fort Dix, New Jersey will make an appearance at the band shell at Sanatoga Park. They are appearing as part of the Lower Pottsgrove’s summer concert series, sponsored by Exelon Nuclear. Check out Joe Zlomek’s story in the Sanatoga Post.

Joe also wrote via email: “To my knowledge, this is the first time in many years a military band unit has played an outdoor concert anywhere near Pottstown, and the first time in several years a unit has played in the greater Pottstown area at all.” They will be playing in much larger cities and towns this week, including Baltimore and Philadelphia, so this is a fantastic opportunity, so close to home, to hear our service men and women perform and to acknowledge their musical talent and commitment.

We featured Sanatoga Park in our Parks & Rec Series last fall for the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation; you can see photos here. The band shell and lawn overlooking the water provide a scenic setting for the community to come together and share a musical experience.  So, gather up the family, throw a blanket or some lawn chairs into the trunk, and head over to Sanatoga Park this Wednesday night!

 

 

What’s on tap in Pottstown – June 24

Bees, Butterflies, Beaches and Bridges: The Gallery On High’s Summer Member Show Is running now through August 13th. The Gallery on High is located at254 E. High Street. Their hours are: Tuesday – Friday from 10am to 4:30pm, Saturday from 10am to 3pm. They’re closed on Sunday and Monday. For more info, visit their website: www. GalleryonHigh.com.

This next event might not be right in Pottstown, but if you’re in the mood for some good, old-fashioned polka fun, oldies, country, big band music – whatever – get yourself over to the band shell at Sanatoga Park for the Bill Koss Combo, this Sunday night, June 26th, beginning at 6 pm. I have to give a shout-out to the Kosses because my dad used to play trumpet at gigs with their founder “Itchy” Koss when I was growing up. And the Positively Pottstown blog featured Sanatoga Park in last fall’s Parks & Rec Series, sponsored by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. Lower Pottsgrove puts on a 6-week summer concert series at Sanatoga Park with Exelon Nuclear again sponsoring this year. For the whole line-up, check out the Township’s website at www.lowerpottsgrove.org.

Next Thursday, June 30, the Pottstown Regional Public Library will host a performance of the Ill Style and Peace Dance Troupe. The event starts at 4 pm and is open to all. The Library is at500 E High St. See their website for more news about this and other summer events and programming for all ages. Their website is www.ppl.mclinc.org

When you’re ready to unwind on this Saturday night or any Saturday night, head on over to Sunnybrook Ballroom for their weekly “Hot Summer Nights” at The Tiki Hut. There are drink specials, music and dancing for the 21 and over crowd. Sunnybrook is located at 50 N. Sunnybrook Rd, Pottstown. Check out all their upcoming music and entertainment at www.sunnybrookballroom.net.

The Evolution of Bullying

This is the third article in a series on bullying, provided by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.

THE EVOLUTION OF BULLYING:

FROM SCHOOLYARD TO CYBERSPACE

By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

Would you be surprised to know that according to current statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice 77% of students admit to being bullied mentally, verbally or physically according to a recent national survey? That translates to one in four kids being bullied. Eight percent of students miss one day of class per month from fear of bullies. One out of five kids admits to being a bully or doing some bullying. You may not only be surprised, but downright alarmed.  Unfortunately, bullying is a widespread and serious problem. It’s not a phase children have to go through, it’s not just “kids being kids,” and it’s not something children will grow out of. Bullying is a serious situation that can cause lasting harm to both the victim and the bully.

Granted, bullying has been around forever. So why is it only now getting the attention it deserves? Is it because there is now global awareness that children are committing suicide from being bullied? Is it because there are now other, sneakier ways to bully than the schoolyard, such as cyberbullying? Is it because it’s now affecting a larger number of kids than ever before? Yes, yes and yes.

Definition of Bullying
Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. It involves repeated acts; physical, emotional and/or inappropriate social behavior; it is intentional, controlling and hurtful; and it is a learned behavior, sometimes as early as age two. Bully power comes from physical size and strength, verbal skills, popularity and gender.

Physical or verbal bullying includes hitting, kicking, pushing, tripping, name-calling, cruel teasing, threatening and/or intimidating words, sexual harassment, ethnic slurs, spreading rumors, group exclusion, stares and glares, unreasonable territorial bans, and destruction of property. Cyberbullying includes the creation of insulting or threatening websites; ISP warning wars; harassing instant messages, emails or text messages; chat room gossip; rating sites/internet polling; suicide sites; conspiring and excluding online; impersonation, password stealing, and harassment during online games.

Statistics indicate bullying is more prevalent in middle school (grades 6-8) than in senior high school. Emotional or verbal bullying is the most common form of bullying with pushing, shoving, tripping and spitting on someone being the second most common form. Cyberbullying, however, is more prevalent in the last three years of high school than in grades six through nine.

Portrait of a Bully
Of course, there is no typical bully, but there are various behaviors that bullies or potential bullies may exhibit. These include:
• Demonstrating aggressive behavior with others including parents and teachers
• Frequently hitting or pushing other children
• Seeking to dominate and or manipulate
• Enjoying feeling powerful and in control (whether real or not)
• Being physically strong and socially dominant

• Appearing to derive satisfaction from other’s fears, discomfort or pain, and lacking empathy  for others

• Being emotionally immature, irresponsible and not accepting responsibility for their actions

    • Hiding bad behaviors or doing them where adults cannot notice
• Displaying uncontrolled anger and an intolerance and prejudice toward others

Bullies often have assistants or watchers that help them carry out the bully behavior. Multiple studies have shown that peers are present in more than 85 percent of bullying incidents. Many times the watchers want to be accepted by the bully and his or her group or fear that the bully will turn on them if they intervene. Watchers also develop a logic that the victim deserved it, and they don’t really see the victim as a person. Unfortunately, watchers do not consider the consequences of their actions or those of the bully. Some researchers actually believe that the watchers and witnesses to the bullying are the key to eliminating bullying behavior because this group is the sizable majority in any school.

Portrait of a Victim
Unfortunately, no child is immune to being bullied, but there are certain types of kids who may be more susceptible to being a victim—including popular children. Bullies tend to pick on kids who:
• Are anxious, insecure or cautious
• Suffer from low self-esteem
• Are the most popular
• Are isolated or quiet
• Rarely defend themselves or retaliate when confronted
• Lack social skills and friends
• Tend to be close to their parents or may have overprotective parents
• Are minorities, physically disabled or have a visible defect

The effects of bullying, whether a child is the victim or the aggressor, can last a lifetime. Behaviors, attitudes and hurts can manifest over time if left unaddressed, and become ways that children use to define themselves as they grow into adulthood. Long-term effects can include delinquent or criminal behavior such as incarceration or gang activities, as well as decreased self-esteem, long-term depression, becoming an adult bully at home or in the workplace, or becoming a child- and/or spouse-abuser.

If your child is a victim of bullying or is a bully, the first place to start is to recognize and acknowledge what is happening, and then find resources that can help you work together as a family to resolve the situation. One such resource is The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s Mission Healthy Living website. You can view webisodes that address various topics on bullying and feature expert local guests at http://www.missionhealthyliving.org.
About the Foundation  The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

What to do when your child is being bullied

This is the second article in a series on bullying, provided by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO WHEN THEIR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?

Plus, Tips To Help Kids Heal And Move On

 

By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

It’s a helpless feeling when you know your child is hurting and you’re not sure how to fix the problem or even where to begin. What would you do if you discover your child is being bullied? Your initial inclination might be to stop the bullying, but that may actually do more harm than good.  But, there are things that can be done to begin to alleviate the situation and work toward a resolution.

What You Should Not Do
Once you’ve determined your child is being bullied, you may think it’s a good idea to call and talk to the bully’s parents. This can be detrimental, especially if the child you think is the culprit is not the right child—this can be especially true with cyberbullying. Also, if the parent does take action and punish his or her child, the child may turn around and make even more trouble for your child.

Trying to mediate a bullying situation yourself by bringing together your child and the bully to “work it out” is not a good idea either. It may further traumatize your child and send the wrong message to both parties. Remember, bullying is a form of victimization; it’s not a conflict. Other things that parents should not do include:

• Asking your child to solve the bullying problem. The child will likely suffer further. This is not
something that will go away on its own and requires adult intervention.
• Advising your child to fight back—this may violate a school conduct code and your child may be
seriously injured. Plus, answering violence with more violence only perpetuates the problem.
• Blaming your child. It’s likely she has done nothing to provoke the bullying. However, have an honest
look at your child’s social skills and behaviors. If your child is hyperactive, impulsive or overly
talkative, the bully may be reacting out of annoyance. This doesn’t make the bullying right, but
it may offer an explanation. If your child easily irritates people, seek help from a counselor so that your
child can better learn the informal social rules of his or her peer group.
• Allowing or encouraging your child to respond to threatening messages or texts—this can backfire on
your child. Don’t respond, and start to save all evidence.

What You Should Do
There are three major steps parents should take when they find out their child is being bullied or cyberbullied.

Step One – Gather Information
Many kids are embarrassed to say they have been bullied—you may have only one chance to step in—so listen carefully and learn as much as you can. It’s important to take the bullying seriously. You also should emphasize with your child that bullying is wrong, not his fault and praise him for telling you about it. As you’re talking, gather all the information on what has been happening—where, when, how, who. Then create a written record and have your child start to keep a journal of all instances. If the bullying is or includes cyberbulling, keep all texts and emails, and print out and SAVE all evidence. Don’t wait until your list gets longer or your child’s journal fills up—it’s important to address the situation as soon as you are aware of it, but continue keeping track of the situation. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your child.

Step Two – Contact the School
If the bullying is occurring at school make the school aware of the situation. You should also ask to see the school’s bullying policy. The school should investigate your concerns and inform you of the outcome. Give them a reasonable amount of time to investigate both sides of the story—however, it should not take more than a week. Do not expect that you will be part of any meeting with the children involved or your child. This could be embarrassing and intimidating for your child. If the bullying continues and the school is not doing anything else, you should contact school administrators or the superintendent for help. Don’t give up. Remain persistent and ask that you are kept informed at all times.

If the bullying does not occur at school, it is still a good idea to alert your child’s teacher or principal so they are aware of the situation and can watch for any unacceptable behaviors.

Step Three – Educate Your Child
While the bully situation is being addressed, take time to educate your child about how to act if a bullying episode occurs. First, she should just avoid the bully as best she can. If she must see the bully, your child should put on a poker face and act as though the bully’s behavior does not bother her and walk away as soon as possible. You can also teach your child safety strategies, like seeking help from an adult if she feels threatened. Above all else, make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment where she can take shelter and express her feelings in a non-judgmental way.

After Care
After your child has been the victim of bullying and it has come to an end, there are ways to help your child become more resilient to bullying and maybe prevent further incidents. Suggest and facilitate activities for him to get involved in, like music, sports or art outside the school environment—a fresh start with some new peers can build confidence. Encourage him to make contact with the friendlier students—his or her teacher may be able to suggest such students. You can also role-play how your child should react if someone starts to bully him again. It might seem awkward at first, but it will give your child practice in being assertive and brave, but not aggressive. He needs to feel he can retain power in a bullying situation.

Unfortunately, the effects of bullying can last a lifetime if left unaddressed. Behaviors, attitudes and hurts can manifest over time and become ways that children use to define themselves as they grow into adulthood. Long-term effects can include decreased self-esteem, long-term depression, anxiety, loneliness, withdrawal, suicidal ideation, and actually becoming an adult bully at home or in the workplace, or becoming a child- and/or spouse-abuser.

So remember, the most important thing to remember is do not keep quiet about bullying incidents. Hold the bully accountable for his or her actions, because no child should have to suffer in silence and hope it goes away—it won’t.

About the Foundation  The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

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