My daughter has always been a happy child that is quite mature for her age. She has never got a thrill out of making someone else feel bad but now in the fourth grade I am learning other kids don’t seem to share these same values.
Growing up I also had a few bullies that wanted to try and get a rise out out of me and if I just brushed it off it never went away. I found out quickly the best way for me to deal with them was to stand up or myself. Even if that meant fighting. I know a lot of the school programs try to focus on positive solutions and not retaliation but people can only take so much. So I don’t seem to share the popular belief like most parents and school counselors that when being bullied you should tell a teacher. In my experience, this just made things worse. Don’t get me wrong, I wish it were that easy but most kids will hold a grudge for telling on them and it just adds fuel to the fire. They become more sneaky and disturbed by the situation that they are constantly seeking out ways to get even while being careful to not get caught.
My daughter has been an A+ student throughout school and has become accustomed to having all of the teachers like her. She is afraid to do anything that will get herself in trouble and sometimes that means not standing up for herself. If it is a quiet time and another kid is making faces at her or kicking the back of her chair she would rather be quiet than turn around and give them a piece of her mind.
In my attempt to find the best solution to every problem my daughter encounters I have enlisted help from others. I have asked her best friend about this to see what she does in a similar situation and I was quite interested by her answers. When a bully picks on her, she just ignores it too! She is afraid to get in trouble with the teacher and also afraid that speaking up may cause the bully to target her even more. I spoke with even more kids at her school and found the same is true with them as well. This blew me away, apparently lots of kids feel this way. How come the bully doesn’t worry about getting in trouble and why don’t these kids band together to stop the bully using power in numbers?
My best guess is that on both sides it is a confidence issue. The bullies are over compensating for their own lack of confidence by drawing the attention to what they see as their victims flaws. This would shift the focus from their own insecurities and draw attention away from themselves. They boost their confidence by being able to control the way they make others feel and this makes them feel more powerful.
The victim of bullies don’t have the confidence to let their voice be heard and take a real stand against the bully. They are afraid of repercussions of their actions with teachers and other authority figures because this is a very gray area. They don’t know what the boundaries are for standing up for themselves and actually crossing over to becoming the problem. Teachers have talked about bullying in school and let them know it will not be accepted and they have a real fear of being conceived as the trouble maker just for standing up for themselves.
I have decided to take a different approach and tried to prepare my daughter with the tools she needs to effectively take on bullies. We brainstorm ideas so she can feel confident that when in the situation of someone picking on her she knows what to say and do. I have made it very clear to her that she should not start a fight but always finish it. If a kid calls her a name her best defense is to outsmart them which shouldn’t be hard because in my opinion the kids that are being bullies are making up for their lack of brain power by spewing their hate onto others. I explained my theories on bullies trying to make up for their short comings by belittling others. This made sense to her and she has become proactive and has been able to handle herself better in these situations. She has even began to help others stand up for themselves.
Ideally everyone would just get along but since that is not the case and doesn’t seem to be on the horizon I hope these tips will help others in similar situations. How has your child had to deal with bullying? What are some ways you would suggest kids dealing with these situations?