Advice on Bullying Is Hard for Parents to Follow

bullying adviceThis may sound crazy, but another mom to a kindergartner and I were discussing bullying and how to prepare our kids. I mean, we have 5-year-olds. But sadly, kids do start bullying at really, really young ages and we've witnessed that bad behavior already. Of course parents of our generation are much more prepared to deal with issues such as bullying because we read blogs like these. We talk to each other in online forums, we watch Oprah and Anderson, and we soak up any information about protecting our kids that we can.

I'd like to think this is a good thing (and compared to what our parents did -- or didn't do -- it is), but now I'm armed with some information about bullying that I'm having hard time getting behind. And I wonder what that says about me.


A non-profit organization, Eyes on Bullying, is designed to help children recognize submissive, aggressive, and assertive behaviors and act appropriately. This amazing resource has information on how to identify your behavior, and how to stand up to a bully. We really needed this when we were kids. They also have a chart of specific actions by a bully, and how to identify the reactions you may be having. The assumption being you adjust your reactions to more effectively diffuse a bully.

Loving it. LOVING. Then I read the reactions deemed "aggressive" and I thought, "That's what I would do, and would want my kid to do too."

Because if someone is mean to me, or to my kid, I get mad. Instead of analyzing the bully, I just get furious at whoever is being an asshole in the moment. So naturally my response would be aggressive. It's satisfying, it's fighting back, it feels good. To choose an example from the chart, if a bully said to me or my kid: "You stink on first base. I'm taking over. Out of my way, stupid." I would shout back and call the kid a moron. I would. What I should do, however, is to stay put and calmly say, "I'm playing first base for the rest of the game." And teach my kids to do that as well.

Trying to take the emotion out of bullying and doing the smart thing is admirable. It is what I will teach my kids. Even though what I really would want is for them to fight back. I know intellectually that bullies need to be approached in specific ways in order to keep your kid from being a victim, or constantly coming home with black eyes and bruises. But what I really want to do is see a bully pummelled for being mean to my kid.

I know that's wrong, I know that's reactionary and not productive. God help the bully that catches my eye while being mean to my kids. Or other kids for that matter. I can be irrationally aggressive on behalf of other bullying victims as well. And let's hope I remember the chart. But I can't promise that I will.

What would you do, or teach your kids to do, when faced with a bully?


Image via trix0r/Flickr

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