Bullying has not gone away. This is my story, along with some resources you can use with your child.
When I was a youngster, I was the slowest kid on the playground. Tag was our favorite game, and the class bully fondly called me “It” because I could never catch anyone and was always… “it.” He proceeded to call me that from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Another favorite was “Carrot Top” because of my red hair. Even as a kid, I was a bit snarky and sassy and my comeback was, “You are stupid – carrot tops are green!” Some kids are just A**holes. That was Bully #1.
Bully #2 enjoyed hitting me over the head with his backpack as we walked on the sidewalk after school. My Mother was a middle school field hockey coach and sent her girls… with sticks… to chase after said Bully. He stopped. Rumor has it he wasn’t being mean, he was “pulling my pigtails” because he liked me. Twenty years later, he shared a beer and some laughs with Hubby at my class reunion. No hard feelings.
Talk to Your Kids
Regardless of the reason, our kids are still going to encounter bullies today.
Between my experience, and Mr. Green Beret Hubby, we are constantly hammering home the anti-bully message to Stepson. I’m not an expert at this… I’m just here to share how we roll as a family on this very important topic.
1. Practice and model compassion, kindness, empathy, and being inclusive.
2. Talk to your child about what bullying looks like and feels like.
3. Empower your child. Every family has their own threshold of the ideal way they would want their child to react if being bullied. Talk your child through it step by step. #1 – Look them in the eye and firmly tell them to stop or knock it off. #2 – Get a teacher or adult. Etc. Etc.
4. Don’t forget to teach your child about the rule of the second hit. They are kids, they are not perfect, and they will react. But the kid who responds to the aggressor and hits back will ALWAYS be the one caught. And probably get suspended in this day of no tolerance. Just sayin.
5. Talk to other parents. What are they hearing from their kids? Who are the bullies in the class or school? Then go back to your child. “Hey, I heard “Billy” was being a bully in school. Have you seen anything? Has he said or done anything to you?”
6. Teach your child that it’s not good enough to not be a bully, that they need to be leaders and look out for the kids who are being bullied. Talk to them about what they can do if they witness bullying. I remember to this day, the one boy who would stick up for me to my Bully #1. All he would say was, “knock it off,” and it placated the child-beast for the time being. I’m eternally grateful to him.
7. Look for teachable moments. We were at an event where one of the boys was being extremely annoying to the other kids. The other boys just ignored him. Afterwards, on the way home, Stepson and I had a discussion about the kid. “He was pretty annoying, right?” “Yeah.” “You and your friends did right by him by ignoring him and not making fun of him.” “Yeah.” “What would you have done if one of the other kids started to tease him?” “Tell him to stop or get an adult. (eye roll and sigh… ) Stepmom, I know what to do. You and Dad want to talk about this all the time.”
I’ll take the eye rolls and sighs any day if the message has been received.
One of my dear friends, Rick Saulle, of ricksaulle.com shared his story of being bullied in his youth, how he overcame these challenges, and how it’s shaped who he is and what he does today. It’s an extremely inspirational story you have to watch!
Here are some great resources for more information on anti-bullying.
Are You Inspired?
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Connect and Share
What about you? What are some of your experiences? What do you teach your kids?
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