I scroll down through my Facebook timeline and I see so many topics about bullying (kids getting bullied, parents reaching out for resources on how to deal with it, etc). That’s when I decided to write this blog. It is simply my opinion on the topic and how I deal with it personally.
First off, I would like to start off that I work at a juvenile detention center. I see (firsthand) bullying at its worst. I’ve seen the “tough” child cry themselves to sleep because of something another kid had said to them. I’ve seen children self harm because the bullying just wouldn’t stop. I’ve seen children act out because that’s the only way they knew how to deal with their emotions after being bullied.
Something I think what we, as parents, need to do is make our children aware. A lot of children truly don’t understand that there are horrible people in the world until they experience it. Whereas we don’t want our children to think everyone and everything is bad, we definitely don’t want them thinking everyone and everything is good either. Children have to be taught how to respond to bullying, just like they’re taught everything else. When someone is consistently hateful to your child, how do you tell them to respond? Turn the other cheek? Stand up for themselves? If it gets physical, hit them back or tell a teacher? Tell them “Don’t worry about what others say about you.” Every parent is different. Whichever method you prefer, one thing I think is important is to never teach your child to become the person who hurt them.
I remember the first time my son came home and told me a little boy was being very hateful to him. I told him that it didn’t matter what he said because he knew that it wasn’t true. My son (5 years old at the time) then began to cry and it opened my eyes. That was a lesson I didn’t learn until my early 20’s and I’m expecting my 5 year old to understand it. Because bottom line is, to my son, it did matter and it hurt his feelings. I hadn’t had the talk about bullying with my child yet because I had no idea children started being hateful THAT early, but boy was I wrong. That’s when I decided to have the talk with him about it. I simply let him know that some people’s parents just didn’t teach them to be kind; that some children have parent’s that simply don’t care about how their children act. He was shocked when I said this. He lived in a household where his parents had rules about how he was supposed to act and if he didn’t, he was disciplined accordingly. Children tend to think that how things are in their own household is how it is everywhere. It’s important to teach them that this is NOT the case.
If it gets physical, I have told my son to tell them one time to stop and if it continues, he has my full support if he decides to fight back. I didn’t always feel that way. When I was a single mother, I always told my son to tell the teacher and let the adults handle it. It wasn’t until I got the input from a man who I trusted that I changed my mind. It’s so important for a child to stand up for themselves. I don’t want other children to think they can bully my child and he will just sit there and take it or will just run to a teacher and tell them. I want him to be able to stand up with confidence and take care of it himself, IF NEED BE.
When teaching your child about bullying, it’s important to also teach them not to be the bully. This requires you to teach them how to treat other people. You (and who you choose to bring around your child) are your child’s very first example. Your child learns how to treat other people by how they see you treat other people. Everything starts at home.
We are sons and daughters of God and are called to love one another. Being treated with love and compassion tends to have a domino effect. What we don’t teach our children, they’ll learn from another source, and that source may not be a good one. Be an example for your child and take the time to teach them.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29