The past two weeks I have watched someone’s child who’s close to me being bullied . At first honestly I thought it was harmless and that the girls would work things out . After all this child attends a Christian Private School . In the days following the initial admission of bullying , things began to escalate . As a mother and as a friend we tried to understand what was going on and how they could successfully deal with the issues at hand . As a mother the first thing you want to do is attack and retaliate because you do not want to see your child mistreated and hurt . But as an individual and a grown up you realize that your children will have to learn how to deal with issues . Bullying does not just go away once school is over , adults bully as well.
I am sure that I told you the story of my eldest son Peyton , if you don’t remember here is a refresher . When Peyton was four I placed him in a private christian school. The classes were super small . There were only seven people in his K-4 classroom. I was quite impressed with this school because of the curriculum that they offered and the christian atmosphere. But there was something that I noticed, Peyton hated going to school. I asked him if he had any friends and why did he not eat his lunch. Well he wasn’t a big eater at that time so leaving half of his lunch wasn’t too odd but at the same time you just don’t want your child in school starving . As the weeks passed I noticed that Peyton grew increasingly timid about going to school and one day he finally told me that some little guy was hitting him at school. I was so upset . This was his first experience in school and though I tried my best to place him in a school that I thought would remedy the problem of bullying I quickly realized that its not the environment that causes bullying its just what’s in you. Like the parent I am I decided to make a pop up visit to the school and just as I suspected Peyton was crying . I asked the teacher what was going on and she had no idea. I told her that he mentioned that there was a little boy that was teasing and hitting him on the playground . With a class so small I wondered how she could have possibly missed this . She asked me would I mind talking to Peyton and the little boy ( this is one good thing about small schools) . I took them out one at a time, first I talked to the little boy . I learned two things about him , he was a foster care child and he was actually a sweet guy who needed a little attention. I asked him a simple question , do you like Peyton? He said yes I do . I then went on to explain to him that when you want to be friends you don’t hit or tease. Because they were only four I wanted to make sure he was understanding what I said . And then I asked him what would be the worse thing ever to happen to him . He said never having anyone to play with . It kind of crushed me a little to hear that but I knew that at that point I was able to reach him . After I told him that being a friend means being nice I asked him very nicely not to mess with Peyton again . He agreed and walked into the classroom. And then it was Peyton’s turn . I looked at him and I knew that his feelings were hurt and as much as I wanted to hug him and take him home I said one thing to him and I think that this stayed with him forever, you never let anyone know that they have hurt you . Wipe your tears you are a big boy and I will be back to pick you up at three. We never had anymore trouble and Peyton ended up being a well rounded student.
This doesn’t always happen .And most parents don’t have skills to deal with other children. I happened to have a little experience in that area and was able to sit and understand both sides of the situation. It however didn’t not mean that I didn’t want to pop the other kids bum it just means that sometimes you need to know where the bullying is coming from, in his case it probably had to do with missing his parents . Who knows but it came from a very vulnerable place. So we are here and the thing we as parents need to understand is that we have to give our children skills on how to combat bullying . I was bullied in school . I was not successful in how I dealt with being bullied and because of that I have learned better . Bullying doesn’t stop with age , social media has opened a new door for adult bullies and they are possibly the worst kind . At least when you were in school you knew who hated you now you have to figure stuff out because they use catfishing as a way to bully .
Here are a few things that you can possibly teach your child to handle bullies .
- Never let them see you upset. A bully vie’s off your weakness. There were times in middle school that I cried everyday and my tears were just what they wanted to see . It was not like they lightened up , they tried hard to make me cry . So never let them see you cry. This was the first and just about only lesson I had to give Peyton against bullies.
- Teach your child their worth . Sometimes we take this one thing to a place that it doesn’t need to go . When I say this I mean don’t tell your child that everyone is jealous of them and what not . Because even though that may be true we are actually setting our children up for failure. This is when they start to think that they may in fact be too good to be around people and then nobody wants to be around them for real. When I say teach their worth , I mean point out what is good about them . You’re a great singer , your handwriting is wonderful, I like it when you read , etc . This will allow them to see their strengths and puts little emphasis on the things that the lack .
- Give them a hobby . Whether its spending time reading books, crossword puzzles, ballet , jazz or tap and even cross country running , find something that makes them happy and something that they look forward to doing . The worse thing is to be bullied and to have to come home and there is nothing to do but cry and try to sleep it off.
- Educate your child in all areas of life. Again this can get their mind off issues that they may face day to day . Give them room to explore but don’t leave them to figure out life on their own. The thing that has always bothered me is when a parent knows that their child is suffering and they don’t give them ways to deal with life. You will not always be around to help them thru things so show them positive things .
- Hug them and give them lots of encouragement . I was bullied in school and I don’t even know why . I was probably one of the most sensitive children that you ever wanted to meet. And the only thing I wanted more was friends and feeling like I belonged. And though I never felt that way in school, I never felt like I was a part of a group or that I had a group of friends I always felt like I belonged in my family. My parents made sure that I felt like I could do anything and that went a long way with me. And that support still helps me as an adult.
As a parent we all want what’s best for our children but we cannot fight all of their battles. They have to learn to become strong and bounce back from any obstacle . And my friend’s daughter that I was talking about in the beginning had a few bad days but she’s growing and developing and we feel like she’s going to make it …basically