Editor's note: This article was originally published on Hilary Erickson's blog, Pulling Curls. It has been republished here with permission.
I had gum put in my hair. I had glasses and REALLY frizzy hair, a giant retainer and then braces. Life wasn't pretty back then. I wouldn't say it's especially pretty now " but I hope you get the picture.
I seriously need a picture of me when I was about 12 ... I'm going to work on that.
Anyway, I learned how to know that I was good and OK. I didn't need my mom to fight my battles. I didn't need to care what everyone thought. Here's a newsflash, people still tease me now. Most of the time I know if I dish it, I need to take it - but sometimes my dander gets up. Which, of course, is a shame since I am allergic to dander.
But, I digress.
I see posts on Facebook about people's kids being bullied by being called names or not being played with at recess.
And I just don't think that's bullying. When I think bullying, I think the kid in "A Christmas Story" that comes and pounds that kid like crazy until he's bleeding.
Of course, that's an extreme.
I would say that my mother dander hasn't particularly gone up for my kids. Sure, they get called names and feel like no one is playing with them. Sure, I get called names and I sometimes feel like no one is playing with me. Because I live with imperfect humans who are trying to be funny and survive in their own way. I have learned to become a duck, and let the water slide right off.
_Are we raising kids without their duck skin_? Are we raising kids who allow each bit of water to enter their skin and weaken them a bit?
For me, when my kids have complaints of "bullying" (and they too have found this to be a "key" word and sometimes use it), I come back with these:
1. How was your day?
Sometimes your day is just rotten, so whatever anyone does you feel like you're being bullied by life and that person just put a face to the bully. It's understandable. I sing them "Let It Go" often in my amazing opera voice.
2. I ask them if that is someone they value
I mean, if someone I could care less about says something mean to me - I don't really care. They need to decide whose opinions they value. You can't value everyone's, because we're all so different. I am learning this as I get more comments on my blog. Someone called me ignorant about healthcare last week. It got my dander up.
3. I ask them if what they said is true
Like, if they smell - have they not taken a shower? Positive peer pressure rocks! That's not bullying, that's GETTING MY KIDS TO SHOWER. Thank you!
4. I give them a hug.
Sometimes you just need a hug and that makes it fine. Sometimes I just need a hug. I know how that feels.
5. I evaluate it.
I'm not saying that there isn't bullying. But I find bullying to be consistent, VERY mean spirited, often physically harmful or at least emotionally quite harmful. And then it might be time to act. Every situation is different, I am sure your mom-sense (similar to spider sense) will react in a way that you KNOW something is wrong. A lot of the time I only have one side of the story and I will query his teacher to find out the other side of the story. She often knows the truth and already has a handle on the situation.
Anyway, those are my thoughts? What do you think? Do you think bullying has become a "code" word for anything your kid doesn't like? Turns out I bully my kids into cleaning their room every day. That's just how I am. Deal with it kiddos!