As a parent I know how hard it is to let my kids explore the world and have their own adventures. It gets even harder and more complicated when one of them is different. Society has a history of being unkind, and children are the worst. Or are they?
I’m not talking about bullies here…
I’m not saying you should let your child be bullied. Society has been making huge strides in fixing this, its not a perfect world. It is still very broken. Always step in if you suspect bulling.
However, this is the world that our kids have to live in, and we need to let them live. That means working together on solving misunderstandings. It means helping empower them to deal with misunderstandings. They will have their own stories, their own pain and triumph.
Here is the thing, if we don’t ever let them try, then they won’t every have a triumph. Its our job to encourage, to help, and to eventually step back. Kids are amazing at doing so much more than anyone ever thought possible, when given a chance.
Are you letting your child find his or her own triumphs? My book the Little Purple Porcupine is about a mom’s worry for her child. How she steps back and lets him find his adventures.
If mama’s not happy, no one is happy!
The same goes for worry. If mama’s worried, then everyone is worried. Mom is the security blanket and rock that kids turn to.
This is why I wrote a children’s book about a mother’s fear. Kids know when mom is worried about them. Its not a surprise, so it makes since to read a book about this topic. It makes it easier to open up conversation. Communication is always the best way to move forward.
You may not be aware of doing it, but we start teaching our kids from the time they enter the world. We introduce personal responsibility when we introduce potty training. What I do in my book is take the next step, making children aware of this responsibility.
Once our children start to walk we teach them to not cross the road alone, to hold someone’s hand, etc. As they get older we give them more room to move around this world, its just as important to set boundaries then as it is when they are tiny.
Your child’s boundaries might be the room in school or preschool, the fence, or your yard. It may be stay with your buddy, or stay with your sibling. But what happens when they are outside of the normal boundaries, or their buddy/sibling wants to do something they know you won’t like? That is being personally responsible. They know=not doing it.
At least that is what we as parents would like. So how do we increase the odds of that happening?
Books spark conversation
In my book “Bubbles and the Mermaid Adventure” we delve into personal awareness and personal responsibility. We even introduce real world consequences without, well the real world consequences. By showing kids, hey we know its easy to get distracted, to just go along. Unfortunately, that won’t stop a bad thing from happening.
In my story I give the kids an out from truly facing the negative consequences. I’m hoping it will spark conversation about what could really happen.
Talk while they are willing to listen.
We have just a few short years to have conversations with are kids about important concepts, before we sound like we are lecturing them. Between 3-9 kids are still exploring the world of peer pressure with some adult supervision. This is the time to talk to them! Let them know that just because everyone else is doing it, that is not an excuse for doing something they know is wrong.
How does my book help?
The kids in my book all want to go the beach. You may hear from your kids things like I want to go to the park or just outside with the neighbors. Just like you, they get permission to go, but boundaries are set.
In the book, the kids are told to stay out of the deep water and to be careful of sharks. Okay, so their probably aren’t any sharks at your park or in your neighborhood, at least they don’t look like sharks. We don’t want to scare our kids, but they need to know why you have boundaries. Their are people out there that will hurt kids if they get the chance.
Consequences., in my book the kids get in the water and meet up with some mermaids. Insert, the popular kids, and just like most kids they simply followed along paying no attention to anything but the popular kids. At the end, those mermaids took off and left them in deep water and deep trouble.
Do you have a Bubble Blowing Dragon in your back pocket?
Me either. In my book it was the dragon that saved them. Their are tools you can give your kids to help, a whistle, pepper spray(for older kids), but the best thing you can give them is awareness. Talk to them about how they would get out of a bad situation, and why its so important to pay attention and not get into the situations to start with.
At the end of the day. Tell them you love them.
No matter what happens, make sure your kids know you love them. Once way to do that is to listen. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say.
Bullying is a hot topic these days. We all seem to agree that being bullied is a bad thing. It is a bad thing, I’ve been bullied so I don’t take it lightly. What we can not seem to agree on is what bullying is. I’ll try to shed some light on this, so we can have a healthy conversation with our kids about this important topic.
Kids need direction from us to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. That means if we, as adults, are confused about a topic, then kids are even more confused by it.
For example, right now it’s common to label any instance of one person being mean to another as bullying behavior. Someone who makes mean or insensitive comments and physically acts out towards others is a bully right? In order to understand that we have to have a solid understanding of the word bully and agree to a definition.
Words have meaning
Webster’s Dictionary puts it this way: abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully.
The US government takes bullying seriously enough that they have a website to help explain it. I think it is does a pretty good job. https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html
Now that we have a working understanding of the definition of the word bully, the hard part starts.
What bullying is NOT becomes the next question. Along with how to stop mean behavior before it is escalates that far.
So far we can see that bullying has to do with power between two people. So what happens when misunderstandings occur? Often hurt feelings arise and kids don’t know how to deal with that. Let’s face it, adults don’t always know how to deal with that. So what happens when a child or person, acts out because they are hurt? It can look an awful lot like bullying.
Let’s be clear though. A single instance of mean behavior is NOT bullying, but it can lead to bullying. Kids, just like adults want some control over themselves, their surrounds, and yes other people. Kids figure out pretty quickly that certain words, and certain actions get them what they want.
What they haven’t figured out is that the world does not in fact revolve around them. This is the real cause of misunderstandings. The combination between wanting control, and not understanding that things happening might have nothing to do with them personally.
So what can I do about it?
Here is what I propose. We need to teach kids how to navigate social situations, this means helping kids figure out how to make sense of their own feelings. Only then can they understand the feelings of those around them.
Let’s teach kids that the power of “WHY” doesn’t just extend to driving mom, dad, and teacher’s crazy. It has a real purpose in figuring out how to interact with each other.
“Why” can help us weed out true bullies, from misunderstandings that got out of hand.
“Why” can help us develop empathy, and connect with the people around us.
First, get in the habit of asking yourself, then your child, “why” someone might behave a certain way. Are they tired? Are they mad? You don’t know then ask them. If your efforts are met with more abuse then you have a bully on your hands. Maybe, just maybe, you will find a misunderstanding is the source of mean behavior. “Why” has just become an olive branch.
Finally, the most important step, talk with your child about these difficult topics. Find out what they think. Modelling healthy relationships, is great, its big, but it doesn’t replace conversation. Kids need to know they matter, and they feel that the most when you talk to them.
How to start
Don’t know how to bring it up without feeling awkward. Well, I wrote a book that helps with that. Check out “Bubbles and the Berry Bush” here on amazon.
I hope this was helpful. Please remember that I don’t know your situation and I don’t think that bullying is ever acceptable. I do believe that misunderstands happen and we need to learn to identify them. Kids need to know that their parents are listening and care about what is happening in their lives.