It’s inevitable as a parent. At some point or another your child is going to come in the house crying, upset because another child has said or done something to hurt them physically or emotionally. Now kids will be kids, but there is a fine line between learned behavior and a child who bullies others.
Trace has had a very rough time this week, being picked on by several boys where we live. He constantly comes in the house crying because the boys are teasing, making fun of him, not allowing him to play with other kids or hurting and hitting him physically.
I sat down with Trace to talk to him about bullying and bullies. Here is the conversation we had:
“Why do the kids be mean to me?” Trace asked.
“Because they are getting a reaction out of you,” I explained to him. “They say things and see you get upset instead of ignoring it and walking away. You are giving them power and that makes them feel important. You need to learn to just let things go and care more about yourself and what you think of you, then what they think of you.”
“Yeah but they are stealing my friends. Nobody sticks up for me!”
This was hard to listen to, let alone explain. So I used my hand (all five fingers) and set two fingers aside. “Here are the bullies,” I told him. Using three fingers — “Here are your friends.” Now if your friends come over to where you are standing what is going to happen?”
“They will get bullied, too.” Trace said.
“That’s right. So these friends (three fingers) join the bullies (two fingers) and together they tease and make fun of you. Now here you are. (Using other hand one finger to represent Trace) You run away crying and the bullies they laugh at you. You walk away, ignoring them and not caring what they do or thing, and they lost the battle to affect you.”
Trace thought about a moment. “Why do they bully?” He asked me, not really understanding why kids can be so mean.
I explained to Trace most kids that bully it’s because they themselves are unhappy. Maybe they are bullied at home, so picking on others gives them a sense of control back. It doesn’t make it right but it makes it sad they need to do that.
“What do I say to them if they try to hurt me or pick on me?”
We over key phrases for him to use. I am trying to teach Trace to use his words. Not in anger but in power. Words can be powerful. Some words are hurtful and meant to hurt. Others are simply meant to give you the power you need over control in your life. Here are just some phrases we came up with:
- Stop, leave me alone.
- I don’t like what you are saying.
- I’m going to leave and play somewhere else.
- If you don’t stop I’m going to tell my mom and she will talk to your parents.
- I’m sorry we can’t be friends.
I told Trace saying nasty words or giving in to anger actually gives the bully power over him. He understood. He wiped his tears. He’s asked for anger management for the past month, which we are working on getting him into. I told him it takes a strong person to know they need help with something and enough to ask for it. I also told him to feel sorry for those bullying him. By doing this it lessens his fear of them and makes them more human in his eyes.