I grew up in a very simple town called Buena Park. Everyone knew everyone on our street and we all got along. Just about every evening after families sat down for dinner within their perfectly manicured homes and lawns, multiple parents would gather outside of the Stewart's home with their lawn chairs talking and laughing while sipping their wine.
All the kids of these families loved this time because it meant play time. The boys would play baseball or toss a football back and forth. The girls would play hopscotch or bring their dolls out to while sharing with the other little girls.
Yep, a true Norman Rockwell moment. If there was any dispute between any of the kids such as name calling, teasing the girls, boys becoming a little rowdy, it was always referred by the parents as, "oh it's just kids being kids"
Too often if there was a fight that broke out the parents never became involved, they let the boys handle it with a good old fist fight and if the girls began to tease the other girls, the mothers never stepped in breaking up the cat like words shared between them. I often heard my parents telling other parents, "oh that boy Johnny, he's such a bully"
Growing up in the sixties as I did, life was much simpler. We often refer to life as being what many call "easy" and "simple" families made it a point to sit down and eat dinner together as a real family. They talked and shared their day between them. Dad came home from work in his suit, mom was in the kitchen making dinner, and the children were sitting around watching "Bozo the Clown."
Changing the remote on the television meant we had to get up off the couch and change the channels. Phones were on the wall never sitting beside us on the couch or easy chair. When it comes to kids, we had to invent our own fun. Kids could go outside and play until the street lights went on and even then, my mom never once worried about us being outside let alone who we played with.
Kids during this time grew up with manners, they were polite, they were well-rounded kids who had a sense of kindness and many knew just what "empathy" was.
Now, fifty years later, we all know to well name calling, cruel taunts, cyberbullying and even physical bullying happen each and every day in our children's lives. Kids in the sixties never once ever considered "suicide" as an option for their pain yet now, kids are using this form of releasing their pain and it is just out of control.
Moving to a New Home
For myself, and only speaking for myself, there were and are so many similarities when moving to a new home. For the parents, it is supposed to a happy time. Moving means a fresh new start. Some move to get away from bad neighborhoods to what they believe are good neighborhoods.
Many of the families want to move before their kids enter high school or middle school. Parents believe that enrolling them into an elementary school is the simplest and easy way of having their child adapt to their new surroundings.
Actually, this is when the bullying begins. When a family moves their son or daughter into a new school they are removing them from their familiar surroundings, taking them from what is secure and safe in the child's mind and planting them into a situation that is actually hard. Kids already have their "clicks" and when one comes along that is new is often not accepted. They can and will be out casted leaving the child to feel vulnerable as well as resentful for the move that once was a dream of the parents.
So how can a family assist their child when they are in fact bullied?
If there was a child that bullies another some parents want to take it to the families of one tormenting their child. A father may want to confront the family of the boy calling their son names or calling their daughter names. I have witnessed father's who just don't care what their son does or who he hurts.
I have seen mothers who retaliate to the concerned mother telling her, "oh your just helicopter mother who has nothing better to do with your time."
I have heard other parents say..
- Maybe your kid deserved it?
- Did you think maybe it was your kid doing the bullying?
- What's wrong with my kid, or is it maybe your kid who's being the chicken?
- If your kid doesn't know how to fight, that's not my problem.
- Don't bring your problems to my house, my kid didn't do anything wrong.
The Nine Steps to Take When Your Child is Bullied (www.empoweringparents.com)
1. First and foremost, listen to what your child is telling you. Become an active listener because when you do, the child will feel you have their best interest. Empowering Parents suggest you ask your child, "What can I do to be helpful?"
If your any parent like myself, you want to get in your car, drive lighting speed to the school, walk in and kick butt then take names later. Take it from me, that does NOT work. It can actually bring more pain and suffering to your child. There could be backlash from other students taunting the one being bullied such as, "Your mommy has to come fight your battles you cry baby."
When your child tells you they are in fact being bullied, listen, I know it's going to hurt, I know it is going to draw up frustration and anger, but trust me, from my own experiences, just listen. A child wants to be heard more than have action taken. Your child is coming to you to share and get advice not have someone fight their battles for them. This effect of a parent lashing out will have a negative impact on your child and your child will no longer come to you for advice or feeling safe.
The Blame Game
As you listen to your child do not make accusations of it being their fault. Trying to find fault or who is responsible for the bullying will create a distance between you and your child.
Remember, if your child is being bullied, they are in fact a victim to it. There is nothing worse then being blamed for something that is not your child's fault. Parent's of children who do in fact bully will support their child for bullying another because they are in fact bullies themselves.
Never, and I mean NEVER blame your child because that can and will have such a mental impact on them. They can turn their fear into panic attacks such as my daughter Sela. They will fear going outside, being with friends, they can and will find every reason to stay home. They can and will disassociate themselves from even having friends. Remember, your child is the victim please treat them with respect, empathy and kindness.
2. Make this about your child not how your child experiences were. Growing up in different eras and different times is one should never compare to with your child. I learned going through the police force during my training, one should never say, "I know how you feel" because even though the stories may be the exact same, exact same situation, exact same end result, you really do not have a clue how they are in fact feeling.
Just because it is your child does not give you the right to know just how your child feels when they are being bullied. Every situation is different, every child is different no matter if it is yours or not.
When Sela came to me and told me she was splattered all over social media from Emma and Diane, I took it to the school immediately. What the school failed to do was take action right away. Because they failed to, the bullying through social media went from a 5 to a 20 within three days. Sela feared going to school, she begged me to not send her to school.
I continued to take it to the school for an entire week. I desperately tried to find the families number of the girls doing this to my daughter and to no avail, nothing! So, I called Sela and asked her what time she went to lunch. I got in my car headed to school and stormed right through the doors. I walked up to the table and looked at both girls, Emma and Diane and with a tone of death in my voice, I told them this was going to end. I told them you never know when I am going to notify your parents, but when I do, you will know.
Well, the school came after me like a fireman running with a hose to put out the fire! But I held my ground. I told them I brought this to their attention almost two weeks ago. I told the school I talked to the counselor, I talked to the principal and both active members of the education board did NOTHNG to protect my daughter.
I showed the pictures that were take on the property of the school during the school time of my daughter with captions that read; "she's a fat slut, she needs to die, she's ugly, she's disgusting, no one wants to be her friend, she is the ultimate LOSER!" well that was when I pulled her from school and now is home schooled...that is a different topic for another day.
Against the Family
3. Never retaliate against the family of the child who is doing the bullying. Set examples for your child on how to solve a problem. I understand it is just as easy to retaliate against the family of the child who is doing the bullying, but I have learned to set example and these life lessons were really hard for me. Look, we all want to put on the white cape and become our child's hero yet if we retaliate against the family of the child that is in fact bullying your child that makes you just as much as a bully as well. That is not teaching your child anything.
4. Empowering Parents explains how to coach your child when they are being picked on. Bullies tend to search the weak and vulnerable who will not stand up for themselves or who they can overpower. Teaching your child how to react to the bully is far more effective than reacting. Teaching your child who to take the bullying to as well as avoiding the bully is going to make your child feel empowered and gain security within themselves.
5. When I learned Sela was being bullied in the 4th grade, my oldest daughter and myself sat her down and taught her how to avoid the bullies. Sela is so very shy and her ability to speak up for herself was a very daunting task. But through a lot of coaching and talking she promised she would tell someone that she trusts. That is the key to success, make sure you tell your child to tell someone they trust.
When a small boy in Sela's class told her he was going to kill when she got out of school. She took everything my oldest daughter and I taught her and got up from her desk and shared what the boy said. The boy was immediately taken from the school and his parents were called. The sad thing is they blamed my daughter. They said maybe she made him say it, maybe she was the one tormenting him.
Stand by Your Child
6. Empowering Parents continues to educate on their website to take your child's side. Have your child's back! Reaffirming situations that can be taken and used against the bully gives the child a sense of security and care.
7. Get support, get support from family, friends, ones that have gone through such a horrible event. Get some advice and tips on how they handled it. Engage the entire family meaning moms, dads, other children involved and talk about this as a family. This is not just a mom and child issues, when a bully attacks a child, that bully is in fact attacking the entire family and it needs to be discussed openly as a family.
Give It A Name
8. Helping kids understand what is happening to them is the first step in the right direction. By naming it as "Bullying" you are giving your child a strong sense of what is happening to them and how to deal with it. Some kids refer to it as teasing, some refer to it as being mean, but in reality, it is in fact bullying. Remember, deal with it as a family and seek out support from others.
Finally, Help Your Child Find Their Strengths
9. As I watched my daughter Sela lose her self-esteem, it was like watching the rabbit fall down the rabbit hole in "Alice in Wonderland" Seek out what your child is strong at, if they are good at art, support them in that area. If your child like mine loves animals, have them volunteer at your local animal shelter. The goal is taking a negative situation and turning it around and making an impact to raise your child's self-esteem while giving them confidence to strive for greatness!
Take these steps and learn from them. Some may work for others and some may not. Take what I have given and learn from it.