It had been on my mind to write on this topic for a while, but yesterday something interesting happened which triggered me to write this post.
So my child is in middle primary school years, she and her circle of friends are in that transition age or rather phase of moving to their tweens. Those confusing 3-4 years before they become teens. I say “confusing” because children in this age are at different growth spurts. Some have transitioned from Disney printed school bags to Adidas bags while others are still grabbing that last opportunity to buy their favorite Elsa or Anna schools bags before they outgrow them or choose to outgrow them for the fear of being the “odd one out” in their circle.
So yesterday when my child took her fancy brand new Little Mermaid bag to school, someone in her class tried to pull her down.
Friend : Oh, you got a Mermaid bag. Ewwww. That is so babyish. I don’t like it at all.
Cuddles thought in her mind whether she wanted to stay quiet. She decided not to be passive. She was very proud of her new bag, this was her first day and she was quite excited about it.
Cuddles : Hmm. That’s all right. I love it.
Friend : You are the only one with this babyish bag. Everyone else had grownup bags from Adidas, Smiggles, Jansport etc. Everyone in my section hates Disney bags. You should get a new bag.
Cuddles : You know, this is MY bag and I loooooooooooove it. And that’s what matters. If you don’t like it, then don’t buy for yourself.
Cuddles chose to be not passive, she stood up for herself. She was assertive, she felt very confident all through the evening yesterday. Coming from a very polite and well behaved child, this meant a lot for me. Today I am listing down few things that have helped us in the past.
5 THINGS EVERY CHILD MUST KNOW EVEN BEFORE HE MEETS A BULLY
#1 Never ask “Can I play with you?”
We all know the answer varies from No you cannot, after sometime, in extreme cases you are wearing green so you cannot play today and an occasional whimsical Yes. Why not teach our children to say “I am also playing” and include yourself in the game. The idea here is to preempt chances of rejection, and this is one question children brave every single day.
#2 Let them have an opinion
If a child doesn’t want to share her toy, so be it. It’s best to let her decide as to when she would like to share. Stand by her decision instead of negotiating with her in front of all her friends. Let her have an opinion of her own, independent from yours. Ofcouse I do talk to her about sharing once we are back home in a non-threatening way but I make sure I don’t interfere or worse pull her down when she is with her friends. Having an opinion of your own is one of the most important tool to defuse the bully.
#3 A Best Friend
All bullies love to pick on an aloof child, sort of easier target. Over my umpteen discussions on this topic with other mums, I have arrived at this one conclusion. Ek se bhhale Do . When a friend stands by your child and usually supports her friend’s side of the argument, the bully looses force and the child doesn’t loose confidence. Ofcourse it is not easy to foster such deep friendship but by being cognizant of this fact you as a mum are more likely to encourage your child to develop meaningful friendships.
#4 Look into the eye of the bully
HOW you look at the bully while talking to him is probably more important than WHAT you say. When you look into his eye, your head is perched up. You come across as a much more confident child than when you are staring at the floor. Also when the argument starts to stretch, its best to say “Doesn’t matter, I know I am right as my heart says so” or a simple “Whatever” and walk away.
#5 Reach out for HELP
Yes, that’s an equally important aspect of bully-readying the child. It’s very important to teach our children to reach out for help say a teacher or a parent who is easily accessible at that moment. A child with a voice gives out a strong signal to the bully to stay away in future. Children face all types of bullying. They may not even be aware that they are getting bullied at the first few instances and hence not necessarily narrate it to you. I have realized that my children open up about these feeling very slowly. Typically after we have chatted for some time. Spending time with kids outside of study or play hours helps them unwind and off-load their inner feeling. Children have short term memory, remember that. So make sure to have a dedicated half hour in the day, atleast, chatting about their day, their interests, likes and dislikes.
Still, these donot 100% bully proof my child. There are days when things do go out of control, but I can confidently say that the number of such incidences have drastically reduced now. I have been practicing these for a while and it took almost 8-9 months initially for my child to learn to take on the bully and show first signs of assertiveness.
These are some of the simplest and yet powerful techniques we can equip our children with starting as young as age 3. So when they are outside their circle of trust and face a bully, they know how to defuse him/her or atleast walk out un-shattered.