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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Evolution of Bullying

Bullying is such a hot topic in the media and amongst celebrity talk shows.  We see thousands of kids, who suffer from it long term ... and sadly some of them do the unthinkable, by taking their life to escape it.

My kid has had a run in or two with an aggressive kid, but what really constitutes bullying?

Some parents I've talked to say, "Oh, kids are just mean.  They're always going to be that way.  It's part of growing up."

Now, I get that.  I know we all have to go through dealing with our fare share of meanies. Even as adults, we still have those mean spirited types to deal with as bullies eventually grow up and  infiltrate the upper academic scene and work place.  I've been employed by a bully or two, who made it their mission to make others feel bad about themselves.

I think a bully is someone, who doesn't care about other's feelings.  They, out of insecurity, push those insecurites outward by taunting others.  By taunting others, it makes them feel better about themelves.

My son is currently dealing with a child, that I've tried to coach my son through.  How do you coach someone through another person?

Well, for starters if the communication lines are open between you and your child, you listen to what is going on daily in his/her life in regards to the bully - and help them learn to cope and coach them to speak up for themselves ... to take a stand.

At first, it seemed harmless with this other kid at my child's school.  This other ten year old was hot one day ...or cold the next.  My son would come home weekly either up or down depending on this other child's mood.  Either he'd made my son's day by being friendly, or made him upset by being cruel.

My answer to my child when seeing and hearing this go on for a long period of time:  "Kiddo, you can not get on that emotional rollercoaster.  You need to value yourself more - than to look to someone else for approval.  You're an amazing kid, and a great friend to others.  If this other kid valued you, as a true friend, he would not treat you this way.  A true friend would be there for you, not keep you guessing."

With that advice, my kid learned to cope pretty quick.

Then once my kid stopped reacting to the emotional rollercoaster, this other child started name calling.  He told my child that he was 'weak', 'small', or 'tiny'. 

Again, I coached my kid by telling him that he was none of those things, but on the contrary he was big .... in heart and spirit.  And that only 'small' minded people called others names and made fun of them.  I told him again... that a true friend wouldn't tear him down.  I told him to tell this other child to stop the name calling, and go to the teacher.

Again, my kid learned to cope and it seemed to even out.

Then last week, I learned that this child teasingly said, "You're so small that I could put you in the hospital because I know tae kwon do."

Okay.  If the other behavior didn't cross the 'bully line' ... this certainly did.  Looking back, instead of trying to keep my kid centered and strong through it ... I should have called this other child's mother sooner.  However, like other parents, I thought ... he's going to have to deal with a portion of this type of behavior as there will always be that kid, who gives others a hard time.

And no matter how old kids get ... that kid is there causing trouble ... stirring it up.

However, I also want my kid to get the balance that he can come to me if needed, knowing that I'll take care of it.  I want my kid fight his own battles, but know that if it's too hard - I'm there to back him up.

Through this experience, I think he's learned that.  He's learned what he can handle, and when to come to me.  Once I learned he was threatened (even if this kid swears it was joke), I called in the calvary with the other child's parent and other faculty members.  You see it doesn't matter if this kid was teasing ... after the year my son had in dealing with the other issues ... my son didn't feel safe. 

Thankfully, my child has other friends to spend time with... friends that lift him up.  He's not letting this kid get to him anymore.  I'm proud of how my kiddo handled this. 

And it warmed my heart to hear in the end of all of this he told my mother, his nana, "I'm so glad I told my mom.  Somehow she always makes thing better."

I love that rugrat... Parenting is a day by day adventure and we don't always have the roadmap to success but at least my kid knows he has me to fall back on.
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