She was having so much fun climbing the rock wall at the park, in fact it’s the only thing she wanted to do and she did it over and over and over again. Then he saw her having fun on her own. He looked at me and smiled a sinister smile and then proceeded to block her way up the wall and tried to stomp on her hands. She whined but didn’t cry.
He wouldn’t stop until I approached him and asked him to let her get to the top. This same scenario happened repeatedly until about the 4th or 5th time when I scolded him. He then ran off and never bothered Claire again.
This is not a new scene at a playground. This happens nearly every time we go to the park, any park and though Claire may not be the target of said bully, someone is. There is always a child who exerts his own will onto others and often looks for those who are mild mannered to do so with.
I love watching my kids play. I enjoy seeing them make new friends and run around giggling. So when I saw her being bullied, I immediately got defensive of my daughter. My heart literally hurt for her and I was automatically on alert. I know my “justice” emotions can run high sometimes and there’s always hesitation in emotionally charged situations, but I realized that I’ve never had to deal with bullies of my kids before.
So what happens when we (moms) see our children being bullied? What should we do? Honestly, I don’t know that I have the answer. I’ll share what I did and what others have told me they did which seemed to work.
1. Kindly talk to the child who’s being a bully and ask for appropriate behavior.
I know my own kids, who are expected to treat others kindly, do not always do so. Granted I am usually watching them so as soon as I see them treat someone unkindly I go to them and correct it myself so that others don’t have to. However, on the off-chance that I didn’t see something, I’d want another mom to speak kindly to my kids, especially on the first offense.
2. If the behavior keeps happening, talk with him/her more firmly.
In the above situation with Claire, I scolded him. I instructed him that his actions toward Claire are not acceptable and that he needed to go find someone else to play with. In his mind, he may have been “playing”, or trying to, even though her response should’ve told him otherwise. So I told him, firmly but not mean.
3. Ask where his/her parent is.
This was my next step should the boy not stop antagonizing my daughter. I was going to tattle on him. The reaction of his mom would’ve told me whether she accepted his behavior or not, and also what may be influencing his behavior. This information would help me ascertain how to proceed if I needed to.
4. If the other parent is either apathetic to their child’s behavior or unwilling to address it, then I will remove my child from the environment.
We would have left the park and played elsewhere. I won’t stand by and let my child be bullied. I will stick up for her but if it’s goes unheeded then it’s no skin off my back to find another activity that will allow my child some peace while she plays.
5. Follow up with your own child.
Ask questions about what happened, let him/her tell you how they felt in that situation. Identify with their perspective, be empathetic to their role. I’ve been bullied before, I can relate my own feelings to her so she knows that I know how she feels. Talk about why God wants us to be kind to other people, reiterate the values that you want your child to display, whether or not other people are nice back.
6. Pray with them!
Pray that God’s love for other people would permeate through their hearts and that they would treat others kindly despite how they are treated. Also pray that they’d see their worth and that their perspective would come from what God thinks of them rather than from how other people treat them. Pray for the other child, the bully, to be redeemed from the mindset of bullying by recognizing the love God has for them and that they’d turn away from their sin of hurting people with their words and actions and turn to Christ who can set them free from sin. Pray for all parents involved as well. When our kids see us going to God on behalf of their hurts, they learn to do likewise.