It’s fall and school is starting back again. I’ve seen moms running around getting back to schools supplies and new clothes to prepare their kids for the big first day. I can’t help but wonder are they preparing their precious ones for the bullies that lurk in the hallways and behind the school buses?
I saw a story on Facebook last month of a heartbroken mother whose son killed himself after bullies told him his life wasn’t worth living. My heart went out to the mother as I listened to her tearful plea to other mothers. I felt a little judgy of her because I felt she could have done more.
In reality, I suppose she did all she felt she could do. She went to the school to talk to the principal, she went to the superintendent and the school board. She asked that they move her son to a new school. She did all that but her son still was harassed, beat-up, and basically stalked online and on his phone. The bullies told him repeatedly to kill himself until one day he did.
I felt judgy because I felt his parents didn’t do all they could’ve done for their son. You see, I’m a mama bear and will fight anyone who hurts my kids. I am the kind of mother who will go to drastic measures to ensure their safety from other kids, other parents, the teacher, the principal, and anyone who intentionally harms them. I’m that mama who will go toe to toe with the biggest and baddest bully whether it’s in the classroom, the courtroom, or the boardroom. I don’t play. My 5’3” presence will be felt. That’s me; but then I had to remember that sometimes parents simply are not equipped to empower their children.
I was bullied as a child on the playground by peers and by kids in my extended family, but I learned how to stand up for myself and have never had a problem with it since that time. As a mom I was able to help my daughter deal with bullying by teaching her self-esteem comes from within. I taught her that others have no right to touch her without expecting consequences and how to give people the stare-down, daggers-in-the-eye look. No children were harmed with this strategy, of course. As a result of my empowerment training, she learned to carry herself in a confident manner so she was not a target. She reminded me that I told her never to come home beat up without at least making sure the other person felt her licks.
I believe parents who are confident raise confident children. On the flip side, parents who were bullied often have children who get bullied if they never healed and/or learned how to be confident. Children take their cues from their parents and unfortunately they may be bullied at school too.
Parents have to empower their children to feel strong and capable of going through school and life without antagonism from bullies. Adults get bullied in the workplace, the PTA, and in the home. Coping strategies start from within and it’s only after a child is strong internally that other tactics like self-defense, martial arts, etc. can work effectively.
I’m a mother of a special needs teen son who is on the Autism Spectrum. He has been homeschooled since 5th grade but insists on going to school to finish out his high school years. Of course, I am concerned about bullying because he is “different”.
To prepare him I’ve given him tips to deal with kids who may decide that his differences deserve abuse, mistreatment, and bullying. I’ve empowered him to:
- Stand up for himself if provoked.
- Walk away if confronted.
- Face the issue if necessary and
- Finish any fight that anyone starts with him.
Some parents may think that is too radical because it advocates violence. I respond by saying that if I do not empower my child then who will? I helped my adult daughter through the struggles of middle and high school bully-free. My son will do the same.
So what should a mom do to empower their child? Here are my 10 tips for parents to bully-proof their kids:
- Find the courage inside yourself as a parent and tap into your own self-worth. Kids model what you do vs. what you say.
2. Teach yourself and them to practice the Superhero Pose to build and help feel confidence. Stand with feet apart.Hands on lower waist. Back straight. Head held high. Cape is optional.
3. Allow (even encourage) them to fight back if they are shoved, hit, or punched. Teach them that no one has the right to put their hands on them. This teaches self-respect.
4. Reduce access to social media or monitor closely especially if you suspect bullying. Do the same with cell phones and require that phone numbers not be given out. Change the number if harassment or cyberbullying of any kind begins.
5. Come out of the fantasy world and live in the reality that not everyone has the same supportive and happy environment as your home. Some kids are sad, mad, and miserable and want other kids to be a part of that misery.
What to Teach your kids about bullies::
- Some kids are being bullied at home so they bully others. Hurt people hurt people.
- Some kids feel small and inferior at home so they want to feel superior and in control at school.
- Some kids have parents that bully them so they bully kids that are different or look smaller.
- Sometimes a bully will challenge them to see if they are tough/confident to stand up for themselves.
- Whiners get bullied so either remain silent and look them in the eye or speak clearly while looking them in the eye.
6. Teach your kids that their body language will either attract or repel a bully. Show them to walk tall, look people in the eye and to speak up clearly, loudly, and with boldness.
7. Practice or role play at home with your kids how to stand up for themselves if a bully confronts them.
8. Check your fears at the door and don’t project them onto your children. Your children feel your feelings because their intuition is strong. They know when you feel helpless, fearful, depressed, or angry in the same way they know when you are confident, happy, and feeling strong.
9. Pray for and with your child and teach them the scripture, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” Ephesians 6:10. If you don’t believe in prayer teach them positive affirmations.
10. Teach your child that compassion and kindness go further than being nice and non-confrontational. A kid with a cause (defending the weak) will learn compassion/ kindness is also strength.
A friend on Facebook shared that her daughter was hurt because the kids did not want to play with her. She felt left out and rejected. I share the following:
I hope it helps you empower your child to become a champion on the playground and have an amazing new school year!