Monday, July 22, 2013

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When Bullying Rears Its Ugly Head Before The School Years

That moment, when you leave your child in the care of someone else, or with other kids, what is the one thing you fear when you walk away?

For me, its the fear that my child will not be accepted, either by his peers or the adults in charge. Last week I had some instances that happened where my four year old was playing with other kids and in the process was bullied, on three separate occasions. It broke my heart. The last straw was seeing my kid with bloody knees and thankfully in that instance it was handled appropriately by the other child's mom. But all too often the phrase, "boys will be boys", or this is just how boys act is thrown around and I'm not cool with that.

I think when you provide an excuse for the behavior, then you allow your child to act that way. So when you say "boys will be boys", and your child is a boy, he is simply acting the way you have labeled him. He is, what you say he is. Don't give your child an excuse to push other children around by labeling it "boy behavior". If I ever caught my child bullying another child, I would make him take responsibility for his behavior. He would have to apologize, and if the behavior continued, we'd have to leave immediately, and there would be some form of punishment to drive home the point that his behavior is not acceptable on any level. Making your child apologize for their actions makes them understand that what they have done is wrong, it makes them take responsibility. But when you apologize on behalf of your child, then you make an excuse for them, then you are encouraging the behavior, not halting it.

What upset me, is the first occasion when the two boys that were picking on J myster, were not asked to apologize. Instead the parents apologized to me for their kids behavior and then said, "well that's boys for ya." And part of me cringed when I heard that. There you go, you just excused your child's behavior and allowed him to do it again. But of course in that situation, I was just glad the other parents realized the behavior was bad and I hoped that in private, the matter would be addressed.

My parenting tactic, is making a child responsible for his actions as early as they are able to understand the behavior is unacceptable.

So for me, when I leave my child, I want him to make friends, feel accepted and I don't want to return to see my child all bloodied up. Have you had instances of bullying with your preschool aged child? I never realized that it could start before school. But I've always known that J myster might be the result of bullying due to his small stature. Last week my heart was broken when I saw my child crying and knew his feelings were hurt more than the physical pain he was feeling.

He's too young for this. I am not ready for this yet as a mom and I don't want to have to toughen up my son so early in life. I don't want his innocence taken away due to some kids that think its funny to hurt others. It starts with parents. Parents please don't allow your child to bully others. Teach your child that all people deserve respect no matter their size, stature, color, gender or ethnicity. Bullying starts with you. Will you allow it, or will you teach thru it?


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