I just finished reading this amazing post here, written by Leslie Blanchard, which I truly wish all of you would read. Not only is it a post about the different ways bullying can occur but about the way we, as parents, need to deal with it.
First thing that comes to my mind if I think about bullying is kids that get physical in order to get something. But there are so many ways. Verbal abuse is for sure up there too. And then there are the little ones, the ones we maybe not even consider bullying. Like ignoring other kids. So many ways to hurt others, right?
“This conversation found me vacillating between heartache and fury, but one thing I knew for sure: Mama was about to put her money where her mouth had been all these years.”
I bet we all agree on this. We need to do something when we realize that our kids turn into bullies. We can’t wait and see if it happens again. Once is enough! But how do we react, what do we do then? How do we approach it best? Let me tell you: If my kids ever start bullying, I will remember this post and the way this mom approached it.
I guess it’s one thing to talk to our kids about what they do and the problem it might trigger in the other kid. But we also need to make them understand truly what they’ve done. Unfortunately the reaction often doesn’t happen…
“I’ve been on every side of the bullying social dynamic, and I am convinced this is where it begins, with a casual assessment and quick dismissal of an outsider.”
The problem though is, that we all seem to only care about us. All that matters is that we stay afloat. Empathy and kindness somehow sit in the backseat, if at all. As Leslie puts it: Everyone is jockeying for their own spot on the social food chain.
Let’s face it: How often do parents realize that their kids run over others. Maybe they don’t physically hurt them. Maybe they don’t even verbally abuse the other child. But their actions hurt. And the reaction of some parents? It’s usually a simple: That’s life, they have to toughen up!
Do they really?
See, this is something that I often hear when talking about our homeschooling journey. The lame old “kids those social challenges, they need to have to learn to deal with it and blablabla…” In short: Apparently kids have to go through all kind of shit in order to become decent adults.
To my “why” I never get a satisfying answer. Usually it’s a simple “just because it’s how it’s done”. Frankly an answer I never want to hear from my kids and try not to use either. Maybe the easiest and at the same time the silliest answer ever.
So here’s another problem of our bullying society: As long as parents think that kids need to go through this shit in order to grow up properly, nothing will change.
“Parents need to call it by name, speak it out loud, and shine a bright light in its ugly face. We need to admit to our children that we too experience this, even as adults.”
So here’s the point: If we don’t stop it in the beginning, if we accept bullying as part of growing up, nothing will ever change. The ones that got bullied as children will either always be bullied or turn into bullies. Empathy and respect fly out the window never to be seen again.
Again Leslie Blanchard nails it by saying: It’s simply not enough to instruct your children to “be nice!”
Being nice doesn’t cut it. You can be nice and still bully. You can be nice and still hurt. You can be nice and still treat others like shit. Think about it! What do we define as being nice? Smiling when asked a question? Not being mean? “Nice” is one of the words you can twist and turn and shape the way it suits you. I can look at you and tell you that I find you look nice and I might mean that you look okay. I can be nice because I never say a mean word. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t say something mean. So as long as we are not mean we can be considered nice. Right?
“Connect the ugly dots. Explain the Darwinistic social survival instinct that’s often motivating and guiding their impulses.”
“I walked her through my ATM analogy. I explained to her that she had social bank to spare. She could easily make a withdrawal on behalf of this little girl while risking very little.”
“Let’s invest! I enthused and encouraged.”
I like the idea of the ATM. I like the idea of making her daughter find out three cool things about the other girl she didn’t know yet and actually report it to the mom. I like the fact, that the mom followed up and called the other mother. I like the idea that she did not give in. And what I like is that a friendship developed and a personality changed because of her actions. She actually taught her daughter an amazing lesson.
You have to get to know someone first before you know if you like them and it all comes down to how we treat people.
“But, most importantly, she learned that while I may not be overly interested in what she gets on her science fair project or whether or not her long blonde hair is snarled, she’s going to damn well treat people right.”
Investing it is. From our kids in order to get to know they other child, but also from our side because we need to follow through. We have to invest as well. Our time, our effort, our believes. It’s called being a role model.
“Parents, your kids are going to eventually develop the good sense to wear a jacket and eat vegetables, invest your energy in how they interact within society. If we insist on being the hovering helicopter parent generation, let’s at least hover over the right areas.”