Guest Blog PostEditor’s Note: Talking to your children about bullying is extremely important. I especially love Carin’s advice to teach our children that not everyone is going to want to be our friend and that this is okay. If you would like to contribute a Tiny Steps Mommy Tale, please e-mail to email@example.com.
Mean Girls: A Conversation with My Daughter About Bullying
By Carin Clark
When my 10 year old daughter came to me wanting to talk about the mean girls at school, I knew I had to settle in for our first conversation about bullying. There were some students in her class that were calling her names, telling her they did not like her, and excluding her from their social circles. It was one of the toughest conversations that I have had with her thus far because of the need we all have to be accepted by and connected to those around us. It’s natural to want to be a part of the crowd, so I did not belittle her for seeking the friendship of her classmates. I just tried to help her understand why she should not let their behavior dictate how she felt about herself.
Keep reading to find out how I approached this delicate conversation.
Everybody is not your friend, and that is OK
One of the hardest things for young children to understand is that everybody is not your friend, and they don’t have to be. When my daughter was upset about a girl who said she did not like her I told her that the reality in school, and in life, is that there will be people who do not like you; and they don’t have to. I told her that if it really bothered her she should ask her why she feels that way; and be prepared to accept whatever answer she may provide. Then, move on.
You are just fine the way you are
My daughter is naturally thin. She eats, plenty, but does not gain excess weight. When teased about her weight–and being called skeleton–she was in tears. We talked about her development and I asked her what the doctor says when she has her annual check-ups. That she is perfectly healthy and her development has been consistent since birth. I told her to be proud of her body and as long as she is healthy, she is fine. So, ignore them.
Snitches don’t get stiches
In the case of bullying, you must tell. Tell your teacher, tell your counselor, tell anyone who will listen. The only way to stop bullies is to break the silence and speak out. The only way bullies can get away with their atrocious behavior is if you allow them to. I told her to make her teacher aware so she could mitigate the situation. I don’t know exactly what actions were taken but things have improved; and no additional incidents have occurred.
Your opinion is the only one that matters
One of the most important points I made to my daughter is that her self-confidence is never up for debate or evaluation. There is nothing that anyone else can ever say or do that should affect the way you feel about you. I told her not to let bullies have any power over her. You cannot control what another person does but you completely control your reaction to it. I reassured her that she is loved, more than she can imagine, and that her family is always here for her. She is smart, beautiful, witty, talented, and so giving. I made sure that she knows nobody can ever take that away from her.
Carin Clark is a mother of three, freelance writer, blogger, and entrepreneur who works full-time as an analyst in addition to running her administrative consulting business. Visit her blog – Mrscpkc.