Speak Up And Get Along!
By: Scott Cooper
Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.
Socialization is a part of life that all people experience, and it's often the most intense during childhood. During that time, children test the boundaries of friendship, push the limits of established folkways, and jockey for positions within an often complex social hierarchy.
Children will innately use any tool available to them in order to survive and find acceptance within their tiny, but personally significant sub-culture. They'll use verbal skills, favorable appearance, and even physical superiority to claim their space. One of the outcomes of this positioning often comes in the form of bullying.
Bullying has been a part of children's lives forever, but it's only been in the last decade or so that educators and researchers have begun to take it more seriously. With the onset of more extreme cases of bullying, and more frequent occurrences of death by the result of bullying, authorities have finally started to take notice.
Scott Cooper is one of those people who has taken notice, and is now offering a new resource for children to help them better cope with bullying. Scott is an anti-bullying advocate, and has worked as a youth volunteer, drug prevention board member, and school board member. His new book, Speak Up And Get Along!, attempts to offer tools for children to help them make friends, stop teasing, and feel good about themselves.
The book offers concrete tools to help children get along. The tools fall under the main categories of:
- Expressing Yourself
- Making and Keeping Friends
- Ending Arguments and Fights
- Stopping Teasing and Bullying
- Dealing With Blame
- Talking Back to Negative Thoughts
Each section is attached to a different animal. This makes the material more palatable for children, and also acts as a mnemonic device for remembering the sections and its tools. For example, the section for stopping teasing and bullying uses The Tools of the Hummingbird.
Scott handles his tools delicately, and is careful to point out how his tools could be used poorly, and therefore backfire. An example of this can be seen with his tool, The Comeback Kid. The Comeback Kid is a tool used to respond to teasing, and involves a somewhat clever comeback that's meant to diffuse the situation. However, Scott offers this warning to children who want to use this tool.
With comebacks, it's important to remember not to push things too far. If you feel like the conversation is getting too hot, loud, or angry, it's time to stop talking and walk away. Is the person clenching a fist? Is the person breathing hard or getting bug-eyed? If so, it's time for you to get out of there. If you know a certain person is dangerous before he or she even starts bothering you, don't try a comeback. In these situations, your best bet is to get help from an adult as fast as you can.
Speak Up And Get Along! is the type of book I wish I had when I was growing up. I could have certainly used The Comeback Kid (along with its warning) before standing up to my brother or other kids while growing up.
I would recommend this book to any parent or educator that wants to teach their children sound, and balanced advice on how to get along better with their peers. The lessons are easy to understand and learn, and can be applied to most situations that involve conflict.