I just lose it when someone bullies or tries to mess with my 4-year old. May it be an innocent tot grabbing a toy my little girl is holding while in a play area, my eyes would widen, frantically finding assurance from my little one that she’s okay… then turning my head in search of the folks of the “bully” to give them a piece of my mind.
Okay, the latter I haven’t done really. But come on, it’s something you can’t really help especially when your child gets hurt physically or emotionally.
Kids are arrows – we’ll release them from our quivers when the time is right so they can hit the target they’re meant to fly towards in this life. Temporarily, we let them go once in a while when they are a few hours in school, in sports, or in other activities they enjoy. It is outside the corners of our home and away from our attentive gaze that they might be treated in ways that we will not allow and tolerate.
Bullying is any form of mean behavior that is done towards another repeatedly. Maybe the first time was an accident – maybe the bigger kid didn’t mean to push your child. But if it becomes habitual and done on purpose with the intention of being mean, then it’s worth taking action.
Before this happens to your children – hopefully, it doesn’t and hasn’t – here are some of the things you can encourage your kids with when it comes to dealing with school bullies:
Distinguish wrong behavior. Help the child pinpoint what kind of behavior towards him or her is not okay. Pulling ponytails? Name-calling and constant humiliation? While explaining the various forms of bullying that may happen, try to notice if your kid reacts to specific ones. It could be that it is something that has been experienced already or repeatedly.
Model empathy. Monkey see monkey do. When your child sees how you respond to bullying – whether it’s towards the bully or the bullied – it would give him or her a sense of model response when faced with the situation. How gracious were you when you saw that your kid was crossed by another? How forgiving were you when it was your child who had offended someone?
Secure identity. One of the early ways a child gets confused and insecure about himself is through bullying. Remind your kid that the way he looks, dresses, talks, acts, and thinks are not his fault and are not, under any circumstance, valid reasons to be treated wrongly. For instance, the child is being bullied for being geeky or too smart compared with other kids. Encourage the little one that his gift of knowledge is not a curse, but potentially something that is perhaps envied or wanted by others.
Communicate constantly. Your kid will develop an open and solid relationship with you through communication. This way, you can also find out if there are other areas in his peer relationships that need immediate attention. The more persistent, pursuant, and intentional your talks are, the more trust your kid will give you. Plus, you are passing down emotional support!
Monitor online activities. If the child is old enough to be allowed internet access, see to it that you have eyes on your kid’s online behavior. Cyberbullying can be as subtle as a comment or reaction. Since kids don’t fully understand the online social sphere yet, they might misconstrue some of the words they receive into something that makes them feel less valuable than they are. Be available to openly discuss issues like this, but tread lightly – it is also important that they feel a sense of privacy and trust for them to give you the same.
Before the little ones are out and about conquering their own mountains, let us firstly foster for them a godly, loving, and secure environment where they can thrive as individuals. That way, no matter how they are treated outside, we can be assured that they will take the moral high ground at any cost, involving us to mediate when needed.