Tag Archives: bullying

Bullying … A Revisit

Well I’m almost 2 weeks into the Summer Blogging Challenge, and I’m about to be a cheater. I’ve been in celebratory mode all day, and haven’t had a spare moment to do anything but nap and relax in the peace and quiet. ūüėȬ† In other words, I didn’t write anything new today.

But, I’ve got a plan. Instead, I’m going to share one of my favourite blog posts from the past. One that I think it’s incredibly appropriate for this time of the year. One that will hopefully make a difference in the lives of the little’s around you.

Forgive me for my laziness but please read these words that I had to say …..

Bullying. Sucks. A lot. Having been the fat kid growing up, I suffered¬†through my share of it. Not from my peers¬†so much, but from older kids and people in the world around me. Society as a whole can be really hard on¬† people who¬†are different. Different in any way, shape or form. Body shape, skin color, height, weight, age, sex, glasses, crooked teeth, freckles, etc, etc. It’s a never-ending¬†list of stupid being¬†perpetuated by people who have ZERO confidence in themselves. I survived it, but it hurt. A lot.

Having said all that, I’ve also been the parent of bullies, on a few¬†different occasions. (Remember ~¬†I’m a foster parent). I’ve seen the world through their eyes and their outlook is just as grim as the persons being tormented. These kids believe that they’re worthless and stupid and ugly and horrible and that no one likes them. They feel abandoned by their parents, their friends and the world as a whole. They are lonely in a way that not many of us can understand. They feel powerless in their personal lives and bullying gives them POWER. They are controlling the situation instead of the situation controlling them. Bullying is almost NEVER about the victim, it’s about the Instigator. Almost Always.

It’s sad and maddening, but bullying is never going away. No matter how many posters we hang up, or how many commercials get shown on TV, bullying is here to stay. Think about how many “bullies” you know right now in your own group of friends. We all know someone who¬†will push and push until they get their way. We’ve all got a friend that thinks it’s funny to pick on you or your other friends, and then justifies it with a “just kidding”, or “you know I love you”. I can guarantee we’ve all had bosses that took their position of power to an unreasonable level while we just had to stand there and take it. Are those not all instances of bullying? Adults do it ALL the time … we just use bigger, fancier¬†words.

I think that it is worth educating kids on how to handle a bully. How to safely tell on them, how to avoid certain situations, and how to walk away. Kids need to feel safe at school and in their community. But there’s other ways to educate our kids and teach them to be better, in spite of the bullying going on around them.

Number One. Teach children their worth. If you’re a parent, make sure your children know how fabulous they are. Teach them about strength and confidence and grace. If you’re a teacher, pay attention to the kids that come from bad situations. Be their positive influence. Build your kids up so they find value inside of themselves as opposed to searching for it in the world around them. In my experience, my little “bullies” have had almost no self-esteem and were just desperate to have someone, anyone pay attention to them. No one made them feel good about themselves, so they set out to make other people look worse than they felt. Empower your children. They need your strength, until they feel it themselves.

Number Two. Teach children to not be followers. This seems like a pretty obvious statement, but how many of us really teach it? We teach our kids that there is strength in numbers and that they’re safer in groups. We should be teaching them how to be leaders … good, strong, positive leaders. Bully’s are not all that scary when they’re standing there on their own. Teach children to leave jerks and morons standing there by themselves and walk away. Teach them that it’s not rude to walk away when their friends are being mean or fighting. They don’t need to always have their buddy’s “back”. We spend so much time teaching kids to be polite and not enough time teaching them to be their own person. Give your children excuses for getting out of uncomfortable situations … “my Mom will take away my phone if I stay here”, “If I say that, my Dad will take away hockey”. Something, anything, but give them your words, until they have their own.

Number Three. Teach children that they have a voice.¬†Kids need to understand the power that their words carry, especially positive ones. Teach them that it’s okay to tell people what they’re doing is wrong. That it’s okay to say No, and to stand up for someone else. Teach them how to tell someone when they see bullying occur. Teach them that a smile and a Hello can make a difference in someone’s life. Encourage them to speak up and not be quiet.

Number Four. Teach children that they don’t have to be friends with everyone.¬†A lot¬†of times bullying starts because kids are different from¬†the majority of their peers. Everyone is NOT going to be friends, and that’s okay. The world is a big place and there is a match out there for everyone. Kids need to know that. A lot of times,¬†they think we want them to¬†hang out with the “weirdos”, so they fight against doing the “right” thing.¬†¬†I always tell my kids that they don’t have to be friends with everyone, but that doesn’t mean they get to be mean to anyone. Ever.

Number Five. Be an example. Do not laugh at the fat person that walks by. Don’t point out someones dirty, awful clothes. Don’t call people ugly, stupid, crazy. Don’t laugh when your children tell you an inappropriate story. They are watching you. They are copying you. Show them the proper way to behave. If you aren’t guarding your words and actions, why in the world will your children?

Finally as parents and adults, OPEN YOUR EYES.

Do not assume that your little “angel” is behaving appropriately at school. If someone tells you that your child has been misbehaving, don’t brush it off, look into it. Talk openly about bullying and the different forms it takes. Be present in their lives.

Watch for changes in your children. Are they pulling away from you, are talkers suddenly quiet, are social butterfly’s now¬†hiding in their bedrooms? Have they stopped eating or are they grossly overeating all of a sudden? Something is wrong. Get them help.

Bullying is about Power. I’m giving my kids the power, so bullying has NO POWER over them.¬†How about you?

 

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Click on the links below to check out some of the other awesome bloggers involved in the challenge. So much awesome.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

My lesson in Humility and hopefully, Forgiveness

Today has been an interesting day. It’s Anti-Bullying Day and I wrote a blog about a few of my personal experiences¬†of being bullied. It was tough to write, but it was one of the chapters that makes up my story and has helped me become the person that I am today. As it turns out, my grade 7 story is shared by someone else, and unfortunately, I was on the other side of it.

I received a reply on my blog post, and it absolutely broke my heart. I read it four times, and then replied privately to the writer, and instead of instantly hitting “approve”, I¬†did nothing.¬†I logged into the back of my blog and read some other comments and replied to a few of them. And some way, somehow, I ended up deleting this particular response. My first thought was, “phew, no one needs to see that” but my second thought was, how would I want my words addressed, so here we are.

Thankfully, I still have the original email, so I’m posting a screenshot of it here for you all to read.

sunny

I know that’s really hard to read, so I’m copying and pasting it here.

Very well written! Good for you for standing up against bullying. It is terrible that you were bullied. I do hope you remember that you were also on the other side of the boat in grade 7. I considered not saying anything but since you are calling out people that you know I feel I had to stand up for myself too. Do you recall writing a note with your friend about how you couldn’t believe the new girl wore the same shirt for two days in a row and then proceeded to pass it around the ENTIRE class? I do. That was my first taste of bullying, it knocked the wind of an already awkward shy girl. I put it behind me and realize now it was probably what you had to do to get some revenge for being picked on yourself. Before you call out everyone in your former Junior High school please know that some of us know exactly how you felt.

Now you know why my first instinct¬†at the mistaken¬†delete felt “good”. To say that I feel ashamed of what I’ve done is a gross understatement. I actually still cannot even believe that I did such a thing, and don’t remember doing it at all. But if this person says that I did this, I need to own my part in it.

So “Sunny”, whoever you are, this response is for you.

Number One. Thank-you for writing this reply, I’m sure it was really hard to do and I so appreciate your willingess to put yourself out there.
Number Two. I am so very sorry for hurting you. I honestly can’t remember doing that, but I’m not going to say that I didn’t do it either. I’d love to say that I hope you were right and that I did it to take the attention off myself, but that would be a total cop-out. If I did that, there is no excuse and it shouldn’t have happened.
Please know that if I could go back and redo that moment in time, that I would. When I read your words, I literally felt like throwing up. It makes me sick to learn that I made someone else feel the exact same things that I was feeling. That is so not okay, and I am so sorry. Please forgive me for being a part of something that so obviously affected you deeply but thank-you for giving me the opportunity to set it right.

Today has been a day of humbling for me. As an adult, I conciously make the effort to choose better because I know the pain that bullying and judgement can cause. But today, this one simple act of courage taken by someone from my past has forced me to once again look in the mirror.

Thank-you for not expecting me to be perfect and thank-you for forgiving me in my weakness when I wasn’t yet strong. Your words affected me deeply, and I promise you, they will not be taken for granted.

Grade 7 was my Nightmare

As most of you know by now, I’m overweight, and have been my entire life. It’s changed over the years, but I’ve always been bigger than everyone around me. Always.¬†Because of that, I’ve spent a good portion of my life being people’s punching bag and the butt of many a joke. But Grade 7 was the worst. By far.

It’s bad enough moving into a new school with older kids, and not knowing what you’re doing or where you’re going. It’s the first time¬†we had to switch to different teachers for each class, and not have recess. Everything was different. And I was the fat kid.

I can vividly remember walking down the Grade 7 hallway, and having 3 grade 9 boys call me over. I can still see their faces, and I still know their names. In fact, 2 of them have tried befriending me on Facebook, and yeah, not happening. But I digress … they called me over which I thought was nice, or I hoped would be nice and well, it wasn’t. They looked at me and said, “do you like football” and I said No. They then told me that I should because when I got to high school, I was going to make an awesome linebacker. “The school needs a big mama on the front lines’. They laughed hysterically and left me standing there, alone. I refused to cry and give them the satisfaction of winning, but it still really hurt.

I spent the ENTIRE year being teased by these boys and their friends. Every time¬†I walked by them, they commented about my weight. EVERY TIME. It was either names, or football references or “see you at tryout’s”.¬† I never responded to them, or even acknowledged their existence. But it was 3 years of heart stopping palpitations at the sight of them, and their words were etched on my brain.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the kids that did it, there were teachers too.

Our school had an event called The Turkey Trot. (How’s that for a stupid name)?¬† It was basically a really long run, and the winner won a turkey. Obviously, I’m not a runner and the promise of winning a turkey wasn’t all that exciting or inspiring for me, but it was what it was, and we were all expected to participate. Fortunately for me, I had sinus surgery 3 days prior to the event, and I had a doctor’s note to get me out of it.¬† Woot!! It¬†said that I couldn’t participate as my sinuses had just been ripped apart and breathing¬†would be an¬†issue. But¬†what this¬†horrible¬†teacher read was, “she’s fat and just doesn’t want to participate”, and he MADE me run the race. Made me.

So off I went. I ran for about¬†a block and a half¬†and quickly discovered that my doctor was right, I wouldn’t be able to breathe. So I walked instead. Soon enough, the other overweight classmate and I ended up walking as everyone else ran by us. We were trying, we just couldn’t keep up with everyone else. But we were trying, and we didn’t quit. Unfortunately, our teacher didn’t see it that way. He called us fat and lazy, and if I remember correctly, called my “running” partner fat in front of the whole school. Needless to say it isn’t a happy memory. It was the day my friend and I were humiliated in front of our peers by a teacher. The one person that was supposed to protect us from bullying was in fact, perpetuating it. ¬†I ended up with a bleeding nose for 3 days, and we both had to bear yet another mark left by mean words and judgement.

Even with my friends, I wasn’t safe from bullying. I know that their intentions weren’t to be mean to me, but their words hurt me more than anyone elses. They were my “safe place”, but even they felt like it was okay to “say it like it was”. I hated phys. ed for obvious reasons, but hated the “track and field” unit the most. Especially high jump. Really?? High jump for fat people … not so much. I would do everything I could to not have to participate in this unit, anything. I would beg my Mom for notes, I would get a headache, I would do whatever. It wasn’t that I was lazy, it was that I just plain and simple couldn’t do what they were asking me to do. It was 60 minutes a day of people laughing at me. High jump, long jump, triple jump, sprinting, long distance running, all things not made for me. It was humiliating and horrible.

Well, my friends wrote me a note and handed it to me at the end of the school day. I had a 10 block walk home, and I cried for 8 blocks of it. The note said, “we know why you hate phys. ed, it’s because you’re fat and it’s hard for you. Everyone knows that’s why you don’t participate so stop being a baby”. I think they were hoping it would empower me somehow, but all it did was sting. They were right, but having this group of people call it out like that, left me feeling so exposed and vulnerable. I felt safer thinking that no one knew why I was hiding, and now my secret was out.

Why couldn’t people just leave me alone? Why did my weight matter so much to them? And why in the world did my being different give everyone license to say whatever they wanted to me?

Speaking out against bullying has kind of become “my thing”. I’ve written numerous blog posts about it, and if you’re interested, you can read them all here. I go out of my way to teach my kids that they are not better than anyone else, that their differences don’t make them more “normal”, and that I EXPECT them to always choose the high road – no matter how hard it is. If you’re around me and you start teasing people or make rude comments, you will get called on it. No one deserves to be made to feel like they’re “less than” ever.

I try to not see the differences in the people around me. I accept that we may all believe in different things and/or have different opinions, but that it doesn’t make one of us more “right”. I recognize that many of us have been deeply hurt by others, and that sometimes all we need is a listening and non-judgemental friend. I don’t pretend to be perfect and I most certainly don’t expect others to be either. I choose to not point out others weaknesses or flaws in order to steer the focus away from mine. I¬†strive to be a light to this world instead of someone promoting darkness. I want people to not go through what I have.

It’s time for us to get real, and stop assuming that we’re better than someone else. Our looks, our beliefs, the clothes we wear or the churches we attend shouldn’t be fodder for cruelty. We don’t need to agree with each other, and we don’t even need to get along, but we do need to be decent human beings. Say it, believe it and model it to the world around you. We are “different” from each other, we are not “better”.

Today is Anti-Bullying day. I hate that we actually have to have a day to remind people to be decent human beings and think about others before they open their mouths. We shouldn’t need to put on pink t-shirts to “take a stand” and make a difference. I appreciate that it’s a reminder that we can do better, but please, no matter what colour shirt you wear, DON’T BE A BULLY.

meanpeople

A Letter from a Fat Girl to the World

Today I was out buying some groceries and had the absolute joy of being surrounded by ignorant people. Not one time, but three times did someone make a comment about my weight. I heard these words …. “Who’d date that”, “Fat Cow” and “Holy, Big Mama”. I‚Äôve heard this crap my whole life, but today was an award-winning day of stupid. Today I feel like saying something about it, so I’m writing them a letter. A letter from this Fat Girl.

fatdiet

Dear Mr.¬†& Mrs. Perfect that isn’t¬†overweight and believe that based on that alone,¬†that you are¬†better than those of us that aren’t like you. I want you to know that you’re wrong. You are stupid. You are ignorant. And you are missing out on some incredible people, experiences and relationships because of it. You are the one losing out here, not me.

When you called me fat, it was shocking, I had no idea. Thank-you for telling me and because of you, I¬†can now lose weight and get skinny. I wish I’d know years ago. Thanks Captain Obvious, I know I’m fat, you haven’t told me anything I don’t already know. Shut-up.

I am not a lonely loser and sitting at home pining away for a man.¬†In fact, I’ve been married for almost 20 years to an amazing man, who just so happened to marry me in spite of my fat-ness.

And he looks like this ….¬†¬†¬† ¬†Kevin¬†¬†¬† … so there.

Yes, a totally buff and muscular body-builder chose me to be his wife. Shocking huh?¬† So maybe, just maybe I’ve actually got some value that’s greater than what I look like. Yes, he chose me, I didn’t kidnap him and force him to marry me.

I am not sitting at home eating cookies and cake all day, and in fact, I probably accomplish a whole lot more than many of you that are judging me. I own and operate two successful business, I have 2 of my own children, and am also a foster parent to a minimum of 2 additional children at any given time. I long for a day filled of eating bon-bons and nothingness.

I am beautiful. In fact, I get told that a minimum of 2 times/day by total strangers. I may not be skinny, but I’m attractive and people are drawn to my demeanor.¬†I’m gracious, I smile at everyone, and I treat everyone with respect. I’d rather be known for that than skinny any day. If you would rather be skinny than a decent human being, your life is going to suck. A lot.

I have birthed 2 children, and as such, it’s changed my body. Frankly, until you’ve had a minimum of 2,¬†9 pound human beings push themselves out of your nether regions, you should probably just shush. Enjoy your 20-year-old¬†skinny, perfect body and give me a call in about 10 years. Just sayin.

I live a VERY full and fabulous life. I am not lonely or sad. I live in a beautiful home and drive a really nice vehicle. I’ve written stories for magazines and have done public speaking engagements. People come to me for advice and help ALL THE TIME.¬†Who knew a fat person could actually contribute something to this world? Craziness, I know.

I challenge¬†YOU to look at the important people in¬†YOUR life. How many of them are overweight?? I’m guessing more than a few, and somehow, you’re able to love them in spite of their weight. Why do you think it’s okay to treat me as “lesser than” based solely on my appearance. You don’t know me, what I believe in, what I do, where I’ve come from or where I’m going. The “extra body” that I carry does not determine my worth. I don’t judge you based on your slouchy pants, caked-on make-up, badly behaved children and bad breath. I see those things as exactly that, things. Things do not a person make.

I am SO very blessed to be surrounded by other stong, intelligent and world-changing women that ALL don’t fit the “perfect image” that society demands. Instead of judging me by what I look like, judge me for what I do. I’m okay with that, in fact, I challenge you to do exactly that. Call me on my mistakes and shortcomings, but don’t you dare judge me on the size of my clothing.

Thankfully, my parents raised me right, and I KNOW my value. I know my worth and just how awesome I am. But I also know that many overweight people aren’t like me and are struggling to just fit in and belong, so I not only wrote this letter for me but for them.

I am¬†smart, I am¬†caring, I am¬†kind, I am¬†helpful, I do things that other people refuse to do, I love my fellow-man,¬†I’m a business owner, I’m a mother, I’m a daughter, and I’m a wife. I have a name and it’s not “fat cow”. It’s April. Never forget that.

hystericalfat

Want to stop bullying? Then stop it.

I’ve written a couple of different blog posts about bullying … one explaining my take on the situation and another one showing how I’ve tried to deal with it in the past. In both of them I talked a lot about building our kids up so that bullies don’t have to power to take them down. I still wholeheartedly believe in that but I think it’s time that we as a society stand up and take responsibility for our part in perpetuating this insanity. Children look to us to lead them and guide them. They copy what we do. We are their guides and leaders. We need to take that more seriously. Now.

I’m thankful that people are finally¬†really acknowledging¬†bullying and the horrific¬†ramifications¬†that¬†it brings about.¬†What makes me sick is that it took the death of a young girl to make people take notice. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first death as a result of bullying. We should’ve¬†taken better notice a¬†long, long time ago. My hope is that these same people who have jumped on the “bullying is bad bandwagon” will actually do something to make a change and not just use this event as a way to make themselves look righteous. Please let that be what happens.

If you want bullying to stop, we as a society need to stop bullying. Stop telling and laughing at fat jokes. Quit pointing out “gingers” and making ignorant comments about them. Stop commenting on buck teeth, freckles, greasy hair, pimples, etc, etc. Quit pointing out the faults of everyone around you and/or laughing along when someone makes ignorant remarks.¬† Next time you get the urge to call someone fat or ugly, picture your daughters face on their shoulders. Not so appealing now is it? Grow Up.

Don’t post on Facebook how upset you are by bullying and how awful it is, and then go and post ignorant “jokes” or pictures. Don’t say that bullying is terrible and then start all of your sentences with “I don’t mean to be rude”, or “no offense”.¬† Don’t shove people out of your way in the grocery store, don’t butt in line, don’t belittle people in lower positions than you. Be respectful. Be polite. Be a decent human being.

When your children make ignorant comments about peers or people in their world. Correct them. When they tell inappropriate jokes. Correct them. When they comment that someone is poor or stupid or ugly. Correct them. Please don’t agree or laugh with them. You are their example. When the opportunity to teach your children arises, use it. Talk about how we’re all different and that it’s okay. Discuss how some people look different because they can’t help it. Teach them about money, and how not every has as much or has more than your family. Explain to them why they’re being corrected. They’ll get it sooner than you think, and their bad habits will be replaced with kind and compassionate ones.

Really teach your kids their worth. No one should ever think that they need to lift their shirt and bare¬†their breasts to make someone like them. Teach them that they don’t need the approval of others to be valuable. Show them that they don’t need to be “sexy” to get attention. Teach them that the number of friends they have on Facebook or the numbers of TBH’s they participate in, is in no way reflective of their value. Kids need to be built up and reminded DAILY of how awesome they are. If they are getting approval and encouragement at home, they’re not going to seek it out everywhere they go. Kids still want to fit in and belong, that’s never going to change. But if they feel secure and “know” their worth, it’ll be a lot tougher for someone else to take advantage of them or beat them down. Period.

Teach your children that they don’t need to share every little piece of themselves with others. Facebook , Instagram and Twitter are not diaries. Pictures and words are forever, help them understand that. Talk to them about online predators, and REALLY talk to them. If you’re going to allow your children to use social media, take the time to figure out how it works. Learn what texting shortcuts mean. Never assume that your child is smart enough to know when they’re being lied to or scammed. And on the flip-side, don’t assume that your child would never behave inappropriately online. Kids that are normally shy or quiet will quite often open-up online because it’s so anonymous. They can hide behind a fake persona and become anything their minds can imagine.

Consider setting up a “fake account” with a picture of someone cute. Pretend to attend another local school, pick common “likes” to your kids – food, sports teams, video games. Then send your child a¬†friend request¬†and see what happens.¬†If they don’t initially accept it, try again. Add a note to¬†your request saying something like, “we used to play ball together” or¬†whatever.¬† Once they befriend you, starting asking questions. Will they give you pictures when asked for them? Will they tell you where they go to school, share their phone number, address, etc, etc? If you invite them to an awesome party, will they agree to go? Maybe your kids will surprise you and will never¬†accept your¬†request but if they do, use this to show them just how easy it was to get them talking. Predators do this¬†EVERY DAY.

We need to change what is normal. And what is expected.¬†Children aren’t sexy. Physical appearance doesn’t determine your worth. Money does not equal power. Domestic Violence is not cool and should not be ignored. Movie stars, pop icons and their lifestyles are not reality. Please figure out a way to help your children see that and believe it. We need to set higher standards for our children and ourselves. Stop accepting¬†wrong behaviour¬†as normal.

Frankly, we as adults also need to recognize the power that we have. Our words bite just as much as those of a teenager. We are just older and “smarter” and a little bit braver. We somehow find ways to justify our behaviour because we “know” that we’re right. We’re educated, churched and have lots of life experience. Quit mistaking those things as “rights to abuse or bully”.

Politics, religion, ideals and opinions will always be fodder for bashing. Instead of joining in on the bandwagon of crazy behaviour, listen. Hear what people have to say, and then agree or disagree. If you have a concern or you don’t understand something, ask about it. So many of our “fights” are a result of mis-information or blatant gossip. Before you make a judgement, make sure you have all the facts. Agree or Not, doesn’t really matter. Your response is what’s important. Hatred should never be an option.

Bullying is a horrible, horrible thing but it’s just a symptom of something bigger.¬†As we all move forward, working towards change,¬†please think of this one simple word. Respect. Respect for yourself, and respect for the people around you. If we could all just focus on that, the world would be a much happier and safer place.

Bullying … A New Approach

Bullying. Sucks. A lot. Having been the fat kid growing up, I suffered¬†through my share of it. Not from my peers¬†so much, but from older kids and people in the world around me. Society as a whole can be really hard on¬† people who¬†are different. Different in any way, shape or form. Body shape, skin color, height, weight, age, sex, glasses, crooked teeth, freckles, etc, etc. It’s a never-ending¬†list of stupid being¬†perpetuated by people who have ZERO confidence in themselves. I survived it, but it hurt. A lot.

Having said all that, I’ve also been the parent of bullies, on a few¬†different occasions. I’ve seen the world through their eyes and their outlook is just as grim as the persons being tormented. These kids believe that they’re worthless and stupid and ugly and horrible and that no one likes them. They feel abandoned by their parents, their friends and the world as a whole. They are lonely in a way that not many of us can understand. They feel powerless in their personal lives and bullying gives them POWER. They are controlling the situation instead of the situation controlling them. Bullying is almost NEVER about the victim, it’s about the Instigator. Almost Always.

It’s sad and maddening, but bullying is never going away. No matter how many posters we hang up, or how many commercials get shown on TV, bullying is here to stay. Think about how many “bullies” you know right now in your own group of friends. We all know someone who¬†will push and push until they get their way. We’ve all got a friend that thinks it’s funny to pick on you or your other friends, and then justifies it with a “just kidding”, or “you know I love you”. I can guarantee we’ve all had bosses that took their position of power to an unreasonable level while we just had to stand there and take it. Are those not all instances of bullying? Adults do it ALL the time … we just use bigger, fancier¬†words.

I think that it is worth educating kids on how to handle a bully. How to safely tell on them, how to avoid certain situations, and how to walk away. Kids need to feel safe at school and in their community. But there’s other ways to educate our kids and teach them to be better, in spite of the bullying going on around them.

Number One. Teach children their worth. If you’re a parent, make sure your children know how fabulous they are. Teach them about strength and confidence and grace. If you’re a teacher, pay attention to the kids that come from bad situations. Be their positive influence. Build your kids up so they find value inside of themselves as opposed to searching for it in the world around them. In my experience, my little “bullies” have had almost no self-esteem and were just desperate to have someone, anyone pay attention to them. No one made them feel good about themselves, so they set out to make other people look worse than they felt. Empower your children. They need your strength, until they feel it themselves.

Number Two. Teach children to not be followers. This seems like a pretty obvious statement, but how many of us really teach it? We teach our kids that there is strength in numbers and that they’re safer in groups. We should be teaching them how to be leaders … good, strong, positive leaders. Bully’s are not all that scary when they’re standing there on their own. Teach children to leave jerks and morons standing there by themselves and walk away. Teach them that it’s not rude to walk away when their friends are being mean or fighting. They don’t need to always have their buddy’s “back”. We spend so much time teaching kids to be polite and not enough time teaching them to be their own person. Give your children excuses for getting out of uncomfortable situations … “my Mom will take away my phone if I stay here”, “If I say that, my Dad will take away hockey”. Something, anything, but give them your words, until they have their own.

Number Three. Teach children that they have a voice.¬†Kids need to understand the power that their words carry, especially positive ones. Teach them that it’s okay to tell people what they’re doing is wrong. That it’s okay to say No, and to stand up for someone else. Teach them how to tell someone when they see bullying occur. Teach them that a smile and a Hello can make a difference in someone’s life. Encourage them to speak up and not be quiet.

Number Four. Teach children that they don’t have to be friends with everyone.¬†A lot¬†of times bullying starts because kids are different from¬†the majority of their peers. Everyone is NOT going to be friends, and that’s okay. The world is a big place and there is a match out there for everyone. Kids need to know that. A lot of times,¬†they think we want them to¬†hang out with the “weirdos”, so they fight against doing the “right” thing.¬†¬†I always tell my kids that they don’t have to be friends with everyone, but that doesn’t mean they get to be mean to anyone. Ever.

Number Five. Be an example. Do not laugh at the fat person that walks by. Don’t point out someones dirty, awful clothes. Don’t call people ugly, stupid, crazy. Don’t laugh when your children tell you an inappropriate story. They are watching you. They are copying you. Show them the proper way to behave. If you aren’t guarding your words and actions, why in the world will your children?

Finally as parents and adults, OPEN YOUR EYES.

Do not assume that your little “angel” is behaving appropriately at school. If someone tells you that your child has been misbehaving, don’t brush it off, look into it. Talk openly about bullying and the different forms it takes. Be present in their lives.

Watch for changes in your children. Are they pulling away from you, are talkers suddenly quiet, are social butterfly’s now¬†hiding in their bedrooms? Have they stopped eating or are they grossly overeating all of a sudden? Something is wrong. Get them help.

Bullying is about Power. I’m giving my kids the power, so bullying has NO POWER over them.¬†How about you?