How to Deal with Relational Aggression: A Review of My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Relational aggression is a form of emotional bullying that involves hurting someone's feelings, reputation, or relationships. It can include name-calling, gossiping, excluding, ignoring, or spreading rumors. Relational aggression can be very damaging to the victim's self-esteem, mental health, and social skills.
One of the challenges of relational aggression is that it often happens among friends or acquaintances, making it hard to recognize and confront. This is the case for Monica, the protagonist of My Secret Bully, a picture book by Trudy Ludwig. Monica has been friends with Katie since kindergarten, but lately Katie has been acting mean and nasty to her. She calls her names, humiliates her in front of other kids, and makes her feel left out. Monica doesn't understand why Katie is treating her this way, and she feels hurt and confused.
With the help of her mother, Monica learns to cope with Katie's bullying and reclaim her power. She realizes that Katie is not a true friend, and that she deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. She also learns to stand up for herself, find new friends who appreciate her, and report the bullying to a trusted adult.
My Secret Bully is a valuable resource for children, parents, teachers, and counselors who want to address relational aggression in a constructive and compassionate way. The book includes a foreword by the founder of the Ophelia Project, a national organization that works to prevent relational aggression among girls. It also includes helpful tips, discussion questions, and additional resources for further learning.
If you want to read My Secret Bully, you can download a free PDF version of the book from Archive.org[^1^]. The PDF file is 30 pages long and contains the full text and illustrations of the book. You can also find more information about the book and the author on Goodreads[^2^].
Relational aggression can have serious consequences for both the aggressors and the targets. Research has shown that children who use relational aggression are more likely to have low self-esteem, poor academic performance, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and delinquency. Children who are targeted by relational aggression are more likely to experience social isolation, loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and physical health problems (Crick & Grotpeter 1995; Crick et al. 1999; Prinstein et al. 2001).
Therefore, it is important to prevent and respond to relational aggression in preschool classrooms. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), some of the strategies that teachers can use to prevent relational aggression include:
Creating a positive and supportive classroom climate that fosters respect, empathy, cooperation, and inclusion.
Teaching children social skills such as sharing, taking turns, listening, communicating, problem-solving, and expressing emotions in healthy ways.
Modeling and reinforcing positive behaviors such as complimenting, helping, inviting, and apologizing.
Monitoring children's interactions and intervening promptly when relational aggression occurs.
Using literature, role-play, puppets, or other activities to discuss relational aggression and its effects.
Encouraging children to report relational aggression and providing them with support and guidance.
Working with parents and other staff members to address relational aggression and promote prosocial behaviors.
Some of the resources that teachers can use to learn more about relational aggression and its prevention include:
The Violence Prevention Initiative at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which offers information, tips, and programs on relational aggression and other forms of bullying.
The Friend to Friend (F2F) program at CHOP, which is a school-based intervention program designed to reduce relational aggression among high-risk girls as well as improve the broader classroom climate in urban schools.
The Ophelia Project, which is a national organization that works to prevent relational aggression among girls by providing education, training, and advocacy.
The book Banish Bullying: Create a Peaceful Classroom with Activities from A to Z, by Nancy Mullin-Rindler and Nan Stein (2015), which offers practical activities for preschool teachers to address bullying behaviors in their classrooms. 061ffe29dd