I was bullied as a child. It was so awful that in some ways, I believe I’m still healing from the invisible scars. Because of this, I’m incredibly sensitive regarding the possibility of our children being bullied. When our twin sons, David & Joshua, were in preschool, they began learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a form of martial arts. It was our way of taking initial steps of protecting them from those who may attempt to harm them. Over time, we’ve come to learn that while teaching them to defend themselves is very important, it’s equally important for us to emotionally equip them to navigate a world with others who have different ways of dealing with conflict. Little did we know, even in preschool, we would all get a lesson in how to deal with a bully.
When David & Joshua were in preschool, we had a season when they would come home repeatedly telling us about another child at school who, according to them, disobeyed the teachers and didn’t treat the other children (including them) with kindness. Then one day, it happened. We got a report that the little boy hit one of my babies! (Imagine my Angry Mommy response). We immediately scheduled a meeting with the school directors and expressed concerns about what our children were being exposed to. Shortly into the conversation, it became evident that complaining wasn’t the best approach to take. Although our concerns were heard and addressed, the conversation led us to take an action that was not initially instinctive to us. We felt led to reach out to the other family, and in doing so, we learned about certain circumstances within their family that was leading to some of the child’s behavior. After communicating with the other mom, and a few playdates, not only did we stop hearing bad reports, but the child became one of David & Joshua’s best friends.
It's been said that, “Hurt people hurt people.”
It’s true, isn’t it? I’ll bet if we dig beyond the surface, we’d find that the root of the bullies’ behavior is some sort of hurt that they haven’t learned how to process. Now, we don’t think it’s reasonable to expect our small children to provide counsel for other children, so yes, they’re still in jiu-jitsu! (Can you see my “Mommy side-eye”?). However, we are also teaching them to see others through a lens of compassion, which helps them process differently the behavior that they may sometimes encounter from others.
We also have regular check-ins with our children. Instead of saying “How was your day?” when we pick them up from school, we ask very direct questions regarding dialogue they have with classmates, sharing that may or may not take place on the playground, and what’s happening around them that they may not directly be involved in. We also feel strongly about teaching them not to bully others, nor to be mean-spirited towards others. Most parents are concerned about their kids being bullied, but we believe it’s also important to consider how we can take action to prevent our kids from being the bully!
So how about you? What do you teach your children about bullying? Sound off below.
By the way, did you know that we’ve written a book about our kids’ experience with a bully? It’s a great learning tool for parents to use with their kids when talking about bullying. It’s available for purchase HERE.