October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having been bullied all through grade school, it’s a topic that hits pretty close to home for me. Now that I have a grade-schooler of my own. I worry what he’s going through when I’m not there to help him. He is very open with me, so if someone is mean to him he’ll tell me what happened. Usually it’s nothing serious, and the teacher takes care of it.
One day his friend called him fat in front of other kids and really hurt his feelings. I talked to the mom about the incident – and she handled it just fine – but we moms aren’t there to fix things every single second, and at some point he may even stop telling me if something like that happens.
My son is overweight, I know this already. We eat ridiculously healthy, so it’s not like he sits around eating junk food all day. He also has some issues with his speech and balance. We’re working with his doctor, but in the mean time he is a target for bullies. He’s really tall as well. So while mentally and emotionally he’s just a little kid, he physically looks older, which often gets him bullied by older kids who may not realize what they are doing.
I’ve noticed him being picked on by older kids at the park pretty often. While I’m not the kind of mom who parents other people’s kids, I’m also not the kind of mom who sits back and lets my kid “deal with it” himself. Whenever a situation like this arises, I simply pull my son aside and loudly – so all of the kids can hear me – explain to him that sometimes kids are mean, and while they may or may not mean to hurt his feelings, we can choose not to play with them and find someone who is kind to us.
Here is some things you can do to try to prevent a young child from bullying or being bullied:
- Build up their self esteem. Praise them for being a kind person, and for succeeding in things. Try not to concentrate on physical traits.
- Teach them not to worry about what other people think of them, but also give them a way to deal with someone who might pick on them anyway. I tell my son to say “It’s not nice to make fun of people, I’m going to find someone else to play with.”
- Most importantly, never talk about someone else in front of your children. Whether you think they’re listening or not, they hear it. Even if you are criticizing someone on a TV show, they can pick up on it and repeat that behavior on other kids.
So far these techniques have worked well for me. And after teaching my son about kindness and feelings, I’ve even witnessed him sticking up for other children as well – a behavior that I make sure to tell him I’m proud of.
Has your grade-schooler ever talked to you about bullying?
Photo Credit – Scholastic Bullying and Teasing: No laughing matter