If your child has been bullied, and you’re feeling all alone – don’t. This is much more common than you think; we’re just not talking about it enough.
My daughter is in third grade, but we have been dealing with her being bullied since preschool. But, I haven’t talked to anyone about it outside of my husband and those in charge I’ve reported it to. I haven’t shared my experience with any other moms or even those in my family. A situation came up recently with a fellow mom dealing with her daughter being called fat by another student, and I realized that I’ve been so selfish for not sharing this sooner.
Bullying comes in many forms, both physical and verbal.
In preschool, our daughter was being verbally bullied by the assistant teacher and then the principal was weak, and we had to pull her out of that school and into a whole other one.vIn kindergarten, another girl did not like my daughter’s curls and put mulch in her hair every day for a week before I had the school principal intervene and keep the girl away from my child. In second grade, kids started noticing the birthmark on her one thumb that looks like extra layers of calloused skin, and they started calling her “disease girl” all the time until I again had to have the principal intervene and handle it.
Then, this year in third grade, she began to be called fat as a result of not being in dance anymore and losing her svelte dancer’s form. Also, this year, she was punched by a kid on the bus, so she made her way to the bus driver to tell him like we had instructed her to if that ever happened, and he did nothing to protect her. When I reported him to the school, he retaliated by writing her up for not staying in her seat that day!
Most of the times, those in authority have helped to protect our kid and all the other kids they care for. The times when the system has failed us has made it easy to start feeling jaded. But, we can’t.
I refuse to stay silent in the face of bullying.
And I refuse to have my daughter not see me stand in her defense, so she can eventually stand up in her own worth. I continually let her know that we cannot control how others choose to act, but we can choose how to act ourselves. And, I don’t let her stay silent. She so desperately wants to be friends with everyone that it’s like pulling teeth to get her to tell us when someone is bullying her. We build into her and let her know her true worth every day so she can begin to stand up for herself. We can’t help our kids if they don’t speak up and let us know they need our help! So, encourage that in your own.
When she has come to me, this is what I’ve done that seems to work:
- Reaffirm her decision to come to me right away
- Remind her to think of what makes her beautiful on the inside
- Let her know that the “mean kids” probably don’t like themselves that much anyway if they’re saying those things to other kids and not to blame herself
- Ask her what she thinks about herself and work through that conversation (when it came to her being called fat more than once, I asked her if she wanted me to help her make healthier choices and to be more active if that’s what she wants for herself)
- Help her own how she’s feeling about what has been done/said and then own any changes she wants to make for herself as a result of the bullying
Most importantly, I let her know that I’m on her side. From a fellow mom that was bullied as a child, she says the most important thing to her was to have known her mom was standing up for her more and giving her the confidence boost she needed as a young child.
From personal experience, from the experience of others, and from the perspective of an adult that was formerly bullied to the point of needing counseling, DO NOT go directly to the other parent in a school-related setting! This can often make things worse for the child being bullied in the end.
The best thing to do is let your child see you standing up for them, reporting the bullying to those in charge, letting the system work, and remembering at the end of the day that you are only responsible for – and can only control – your own household. The way you respond will have a much more lasting effect on your bullied child than anything the other parent or teacher or principal does.
It will have a lasting impact on your child to see the way you handled it so well and to know that you have their backs always! And, hopefully, now you know you are not alone and you can take all the fear, frustration, and anger you feel as a protective mama bear and turn it into something constructive and positive.