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How to Avoid the 'Demons' of Summer

Tips for keeping your cool when obnoxious behavior tries to ruin your summer fun.

The Road Rager continued...

At high speeds, combat is not recommended. What else can you do to protect yourself from ragers behind the wheel?

  • "Don't respond in kind," says Fiore. "Don't escalate it, because that makes them respond again; then you respond, and before you know it you have a real situation. Let them do what they're going to do and tell yourself it doesn't matter.
  • "Change what is called your 'self-talk' -- what you say to yourself that causes you to get worked up," says Fiore. "When someone cuts you off, automatic thoughts enter your mind: 'What a jerk, he has no right to do that, and I'm going to get even.' You have to challenge that self-talk and remember it's not personal.
  • "Realize that you don't know what's going on in their lives," says Fiore. "She could have just come from the doctor's office and gotten bad news, or he could have found out his wife is going to divorce him after 30 years."

With these dashboard tools, maybe you can get back on the road to summer fun.

The Bully

The public swimming pool is a haven for this dreaded summer demon: the bully. The kid who likes to torture those younger and weaker with dunking, cannonballs, and the worst possible thing that can happen to a kid in a bathing suit during the summer: the wedgie.

"A bully is someone who attempts in an aggressive and physical way to control another person," says Charles Figley, PhD, director of the psychosocial stress program at Florida State University. "Frequently, it's children who are bullies, and its learned behavior; it doesn't happen naturally."

A bully's personality blossoms when his parents tolerate his bad behavior with a lack of punishment, as well as frequent admiration and encouragement, explains Figley.

Here's how a parent can help protect a child from a bully so the whole family can enjoy its summer:

  • "Ask what is going on," says Figley. "Their initial response may be 'nothing,' because they've learned if they tell it may make matters worse. But don't stop there.
  • "Have the child look at you, and then go through step by step what happened during the day," says Figley. "Unless the child is an extraordinarily good liar, you'll hit pay dirt.
  • "If the child finally admits that a bully held him under water, rather than focusing on your own child, ask if it happened to anyone else," Figley tells WebMD. "You're getting insight into the world of your child through his eyes, but you're focused on another child. It's less risky, and indeed it may help you both find a solution.
  • "Respect the child enough to ask what he or she has tried to do about it in the past," says Figley. "The child will then talk about strategies he or she has used to avoid the situation or to get along."

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