How to be “Unbullyable”

How to be _Unbullyable_

As a parent and a counselor for children, one of my biggest fears as my oldest entered kindergarten this year was that she would encounter the dreaded “bully”.  Growing up, we have all experienced that child, but somehow, it’s different when it’s your child preparing to enter a world that you have very little power or influence over.  Unfortunately, my precious girl inherited my qualities of being very caring and compassionate coupled with extreme sensitivity.  I am definitely experiencing a taste of what my mom felt raising a sensitive kiddo.  While these are wonderful qualities, they can make dealing with a “bully” that much more challenging.  My husband on the other hand has always been remarkably unbullyable.  Negativity and the harsh judgment from others do not faze him and never really have.  As you might imagine, this absolutely baffles my mind.  I kept thinking there must be something to it, some method or way of teaching what is so incredibly innate in him.  Turns out, there is!  And it can work for grownups too.  So, it’s not too late for anyone.

In my research of the word, “unbullyable” I stumbled upon Sue Anderson and her brilliant work.  She is a speaker, trainer, coach, and author located in Australia.  She wrote a book of the same name, “Unbullyable”.  She originally began helping children who had experienced bullying at school through coaching.  This eventually

41s1gUZNVeLtranslated into her work with helping the bully to improve relationship functioning, emotion regulation, and behaviors.  It helps to start with the source and I wish there were more local programs that focused on this side of the work.

My absolute favorite takeaway from Ms. Anderson’s work is what she calls, The “Four Powers”.  These powers enable a child to reclaim control of his or her thoughts, feelings, actions, and words specifically with regard to bullies.  This translates so beautifully into how we would like our children to approach life in general.  I love how she describes helping the child “stubbornly refuse to be affected by bullying attempts toward them”.  Ms. Anderson describes the “Four Powers” as follows: 

“We have the ability to control what we think, how we feel, what we say and what we do”.  This mindset helps the child feel a sense of power and control.  Both words are generally associated more with the bully than the individual on the other end.  Long term benefits of individuals using this method involve strategies similar to mindfulness training and neuro-semantics.    

Remove the power unbalance:  We all tend to view those that bully others as being in a position of power over the chosen target.  This is really actually a perception of power based upon physical size, socioeconomic status, popularity, or role. Now there are times when this is absolutely the case as in workplace bullying by a supervisor or boss.  Most of the time however, it is someone who may be the exact same age/grade with no authority whatsoever over the target.

Decrease blaming and increase acceptance of responsibility: By taking control of our “Four Powers” we take out of the equation the tendency or desire to blame someone else.  This is helpful in assisting the child with becoming the “unbullyable” one because they are focusing more on what is theirs to manage vs. what someone else has done or not done to them.    

After learning about this approach to bullies, I couldn’t help but think about super heroes and their special powers and abilities.  So, that is how I now approach that dialogue with my daughter and my clients.  I encourage them to picture themselves as super heroes with super powers.   I even recommend that they draw themselves as the superhero with their special ability being the “Four Powers”.  It is so empowering, I mean who doesn’t want to picture themselves as a powerful super hero in the face of adversity.  Adults too can benefit from being intentional about using their personal powers to take back control from individual who is attempting to take it away.  What we think, what we feel, what we do, and what we say are powers that someone can only take away if we allow them to.

Four Powers YouTube video

The Power to Choose What You Think YouTube video:

Bailey Circle Written by Bailey McAdams M.Ed., LPC


My teen must be faking, right?


As parents, we try to ensure we do what is best for our children. As they grow we try to lead them, teach them, and mold them into young people that can think for themselves and make good decisions so that when the time comes for them to go out on their own, they have the tools they need to succeed.

It can be difficult if your once so called “perfectly healthy and happy” child suddenly starts having problems with sadness or anxiety. You may ask yourself questions like: What went wrong? Was it something I did or didn’t do? Is my child making this up? Are they making these issues into more than it really is?

Placing blame or assuming that your adolescent is just looking for attention is easier than facing that your child may have a problem that is deeper than you can fix with a quick conversation at home. If your adolescent experienced a traumatic event in their lives, if they have gone through or are going through puberty and hormones are kicking in, if genetics are a role, and sometimes for no known reason your teenager can begin to suffer from depression and or anxiety. It is not your fault, but it’s also not your adolescent’s fault. There is no blame to be placed here, only help to be sought.

If your adolescent starts exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety such as depressed mood or irritability, loss of interest in activities, fatigue or loss of energy, change in sleep patterns, change in activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, decreased ability to think or concentrate, thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideas or a plan, excessive worry or anxiety about several different things and the worry is hard to control, edginess, trouble with relationships (friends, teachers, parents), and/or intrusive thoughts it is time to call for an appointment with a counselor. Please do not delay, the longer you wait the more severe the depression and/or anxiety can become.

It is not uncommon for depression and anxiety to go hand in hand. So if you or your adolescent notice several from both categories it is possible that they are dealing with


both things. Sometimes the severity of the depression and/or anxiety can be overwhelming for a parent to see in their adolescent making them feel that surely they must be looking for attention or making up some of the problems. Unfortunately, in most cases this is not true. Many adolescents suffer from severe depression/anxiety and it takes a lot of time and hard work to get them to a place where they are able to cope and live their lives in a happier place.

Parents please don’t ignore the signs and symptoms or your own intuition about your teens. If your teen comes to you and mentions feelings such as those listed above please listen and get them the help they need. Also, please don’t forget that we are here for you and your teen when you are ready for the next step.


Anne CircleAnne Wiggs, MA LPC-Intern
Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D, LPC-S


My Give a Darn is Busted


I am burned out, I don’t know what is going on but I’m frustrated and angry when people ask me for help. I just want to be left alone. These are just a few of the things that one may be experiencing when they have compassion fatigue. Who gets compassion fatigue? I mean, it doesn’t even sound real right? On the contrary, it is known that people who have caregiver roles and/or jobs are at risk.

Compassion fatigue occurs as a result of working in a field such as medicine, 9-1-1, police, among others and as a result of taking care of a family member who is unable to care for themselves. It is likely that people who are drawn to working care giving jobs could have compassion fatigue already. Many people have spent their lives as people compassion2pleasers and care more about helping others than taking care of themselves. You may be the person your friends run to when they experience upsetting events and need to vent or get some advice. This is great until those events become enmeshed in your brain and you suddenly can’t stop thinking about that horrible event that your friend described that happened to them, or that other event that your other friend told you about that evoked some strong emotions, oh and don’t forget when your other friend told you about that traumatic experience and you stayed up for hours with them trying to make them feel better. As caretakers, we tend to deny ourselves any kind of helpful self-care. Some symptoms include burnout, isolation, excessive complaining about admin decisions, drug/alcohol use, preoccupied, trouble concentrating, and more.

For 9-1-1 operators, EMTs, and Police compassion fatigue is very common. These people spend all week seeing people in traumatic and emergent situations, helping people who are having emergencies, and talking to people at the worst moments of their lives. After time one may notice they start using defense mechanisms so that these events “don’t bother them”.

take-care-of-yourself-263x300What do I do if I think I have compassion fatigue? Own it, realize that if you think you are suffering from it, you likely are. Talk to others who understand the things you deal with on a daily basis. Know your limitations and remember to practice self-care. Remember family is great but may not understand what you are going through. Do not use drinking, drugs, etc. to make yourself feel better. Do not ignore the symptoms and let it go until you have a psychological break down. Do ask for help from a professional if you need it!

Our FREE gift to you! Click here for a FREE download of 10 Easy Coping Techniques

Anne Circle Written by Anne Wiggs, MA, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D., LPC-S


Stop for a second – it’s OKAY.

Stop, Breath & Restart

Recently, my precious 2 ½ year old gave me a real test of patience.  I’m not entirely sure that I would say I passed that test with flying colors.  Allow me to explain…

On this particularly beautiful day, my sweet child decided that going through the front door of the house was far preferable than going in through the garage.  She made this choice as we were already walking into the house through the garage, and she was alerting me to this at a full-volume scream.  Now, I’m coming off a long day myself, not feeling very good, and my husband was away on business.  (Basically, already not my best day.)  I decided to humor her and walked through the house to the front door and took her out on the porch to then enter the house form the front.  WRONG.  Somehow, this only made it worse.  Now I have the screaming banshee on the front porch for the whole neighborhood to enjoy my parenting skills.

Oh, and now she is refusing to come inside.

At this point, it’s possible that I may or may not have uttered a few words that I am now thankful she isn’t repeating.  I picked her up and brought her into the house, shut the door, and took her into the kitchen.  She is still mid-meltdown.  And now, I am, too.  So what great parenting thing did I do next?  I actually put my hands on my head and screamed “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO??”  So now we are both in the kitchen crying, and neither of us knows what to do.  It’s not my shining moment.

Here’s what I am proud of, though:  I walked away.  (Wait, what?)  Yes, I walked away.  I sat in a chair (within eyesight of my kiddo) and gave myself a minute to cry and catch my breath.  Believe it or not, it helped.

So after maybe 2 minutes of taking some deep breaths and calming myself, I walked back over to my child, who is laying on the floor crying.  I put my hand on her back and asked her to sit up, but I used my very best Calm Mommy voice.  She did, and she let me pick her up.  I sat her on the counter so we could be eye to eye.  And then I told her I was sorry I yelled.  I told her I thought we both felt frustrated and that sometimes mommy feels that way, just like she does.  Then I told her how much I loved her and how no matter how frustrated I felt, I always love her.  Then I wiped her tears, I wiped my tears, and I asked her if I could give her a big bear hug.  (She let me, and it was awesome!)  And then we made chicken nuggets for dinner and we had a really good evening.

So here’s what I want to point out about this:  It’s okay for you to get upset!  Parenting is tough, and you have to do it even when you don’t feel good, or are tired, or just want to have the night off.  But when you feel that way, you can model something important for your precious pumpkin.  You can show them it’s okay to stop and take a moment to collect yourself before you react in a way you wish you hadn’t.  I had a lot of guilt about my reaction at first.  And then I felt pretty good about what I did.  I taught her to stop and check in with herself.  And I held myself accountable.  I turned it around.  And when I brought myself back down, she was able to match what I was doing.  And then we both felt better!

So stop and take a second when you need it!  It’s okay!

Walk away and collect yourself (make sure your little one is safe, though). When you do this, you help both of you.  And you might end up with a surprisingly amazing night!

jennifer-circle Written by Jennifer Willis, MA, LPC- Intern
                                     Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D, LPC-S

We all experience it, but did you know that it may be affecting your health?


STRESS! We all experience it, but did you know that stress may be affecting your health? Stress symptoms can affect your body, as well as your thoughts and feelings. If left unchecked, stress can lead to many health problems, like high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.

Effects of stress on mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Problems with focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability
  • Sadness or depressionstree2

Effects of stress on your body:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle Tension
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Change in sex drive


Everyone experiences stress every now and then. It is a natural reaction to life experiences. Many different things can trigger stress, such as work, family, or even serious life events such as death or a diagnosis. For short-term situations, stress can be beneficial. Your central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of your “fight or flight” response. Your hypothalamus gets the ball rolling by communicating to your adrenal glands to release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormone increase your heart rate and send blood to the vital parts of your body, such as muscles, heart, etc. When the perceived threat is gone, the hypothalamus tells all systems to go back to normal. However, if your stress levels are elevated for too long then this can have a negative impact on your health.


  1. Take a breath
  2. Take a time out
  3. Use positive self-talk
  4. Think of something happy
  5. Express your feelings to someone
  6. Think about someone you love
  7. yogaHum your favorite song
  8. Schedule time for yourself
  9. Visualize your favorite place
  10. Practice yoga


jennie-circleBlog written by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D., LPC-S