Rudolph: A Parable On Bullying, Peer Pressure & Soaring High

Dec. 17, 2010 Media madness has hit some new toxic tipping points lately, from sexualized cues for tweens to slink around like a ho-ho-ho (great awareness-raising via this new PTC study) to teen pot use rising after years of decline, and of course the influence of Miley’s latest messes surging sales of ‘salvia’ …

Sooooo today I’m (re)running Lessons From Rudolph about being different, holding your individuality intact like a red beacon nose and teaching kids how to not just fly, but SOAR over the rooftops (sans drug-induced mood altering states, and bong hits, sigh.)

Yep, today I’m taking a page out of Kidlutions’ playbook, since Wendy Young profiled Annie Fox of the Middle School Confidential series of anti-bullying media…a year ago to the day. Why NOT do winter reruns when the content is snap-fresh and relevant? It’s not like peer pressure and bullying has gone away.

In fact “real friends vs the other kind” is if anything, even MORE apropos for parents and kids taking some winter break down time to hang out, slow down , and actually CONNECT about what’s going on in everyone’s lives amidst digital drama and the fast-paced  finals fandangos akin to the film ‘Race to Nowhere.’ …So I did just that with my teen yesterday.

I actually experienced an Annie Fox media moment myself, learning how to hold a boundary, not be ‘self-bullied’ into a tailspin of shoulds/coulds and unrealistic expectations, and do a ‘makeover’ on the ‘must’ list.

In short, we took ‘cramming for finals’ angst amidst eldercare trauma and brought my teen’s Spanish vocab practice into the pedicure chair for an early respite…we ultimately ditched Espanol altogether in favor of a deeper talk about digital drama, school unrest, peer pressure cookers and social media reputation management impacting personalities, moods and entire personas.

Important stuff, as this research via Newsweek reveals:   “How Teen Experiences Affect Your Brain For Life”–Highly recommend it for flipping the media messages and getting in touch with your inner Rudolph. Besides, couldn’t YOU use some time for self-care and disengaging from holiday hoopla?

Shaping Youth RD nutritionist board adviser Rebecca Scritchfield has an entire holiday wellness campaign about these self-nurturing principles called “The Me Movement” as in “Me First” (put your own oxygen mask on). Definitely applies to kids, too. So:

Without further ado, on Prancer, on Dancer…

Here’s my post about the ever amazing Glenda Watson Hyatt, who has soared as her OWN confident Rudolph for years teaching peers (and the world!) about perceptions/realities when it comes to accessibility and disability.

Thrilled to add that her award-winning book “I’ll Do It Myself” is now available on Kindle (which means mobile media mavens can get a dose of inspiration on the go, and pack some serious punch in their pockets) Post below orig published 12-19-07

Lessons From Rudolph That Are Shaping Youth

By Amy Jussel

I’ve been waiting to profile Glenda Watson Hyatt, who inspires me beyond words for her dedication to blogging despite her use of only her left thumb.

I met Glenda via Facebook, through one of my Age of Conversation co-authors, and became mesmerized by her clarity of vision to educate the public about cerebral palsy and end the ‘pity party’ with her fabulous venture and book titled, “I’ll Do It Myself.”

Truth be told, whenever I grow weary of late night hours in passionista mode, I look to Glenda’s blog for a boost of ‘buck up, baby’ realizing that whatever I’m doing, she’s doing in triplicate…Kind of like the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire “dancing backwards in high heels” bit.

I’m striving to shine the spotlight on her experiences living with cerebral palsy to motivate and inspire others to think about how they perceive their own situation and their own world around them.

With that in mind, I’ll point you to Glenda’s post in her Reader’s Café about holiday stress, and also reprint her fabulous “What We Can Learn From Rudolph” piece with her permissions and blessings.

I urge you all to think about how Rudolph’s conundrum of being “different” translates to youth and the “odd girl out” playground posse…for it pertains to children throughout the globe.

Merry Christmas. Here’s Glenda, who is a gift in and of herself:

What We Can Learn From Rudolph

by Glenda Watson Hyatt

From age two to ninety-two, we all know these fun lyrics:

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!

But, how many of us see the valuable lesson here?

Rudolph is teased and ostracized because he is different. He is excluded from reindeer games for the sole reason that his nose glows bright red. How heartbreaking is that?

In the classic Christmas special, a dejected Rudolph and his elf friend, mocked for his dream of becoming a dentist, head out to find a place of acceptance and happen across the Island of Misfit Toys; segregation at its finest.

It takes the fog to come down for the big guy (possibly the employer) Santa to realize the value in a bright, shiny nose. And that’s the point when Rudolph is duly recognized for his unique ability, giving us the Christmas story that we know and love.

But this story leaves me thinking about the other parts of the story — the bits that didn’t make it to the song.

I am left wondering how many other reindeer before Rudolph were discarded because their unique ability or talent wasn’t valued.

However, I am comforted in believing that discriminating practice will not be repeated when Rudolph and his reindeer friends retire and new flying reindeer are chosen to pull the sleigh.

After all, believing everyone is welcomed and accepted is part of the magic of Christmas!

Rudolph teaches children young and old about the importance of valuing diversity and inclusion.

Without this reindeer’s different coloured nose, Christmas was surely doomed to be cancelled that foggy night. With him, that lesson went down in history!

Bravo, Glenda…

I urge you to learn from her ‘best practices’ and wisdom in social media as well, for she’s got nine great tips for how to campaign for votes and champion a cause…(a great gift for us all!)

Also, a huge shoutout to the world that Annie Fox’s Middle School Confidential media (and interesting podcasts) should be on your hit list for solid reading and interactive online chats. Ditto with Wendy Young of Kidlutions.com and her “Talk About It” solutions…

Do any of these scenarios look familiar?  Tweens? Teens? ADULTS?

Whether it’s body snarking on Facebook or a lobbed zing to the pride on the anonymous Formspring, holding your own in a media saturated world takes more than a shiny object and good fortune…it takes GUIDANCE to light the way…

Right Rudolph?

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