Posts Tagged 'Bullying'

A Cookie Story

Photo: BeeInOurBonnet

Photo: BeeInOurBonnet

Ollie and I made oatmeal cookies last night. They turned out misshapen and crumbly. Kind of an aesthetic disaster, but tasted fine. We kept them. I ditched the recipe.

I dubbed them Ugly Cookies and got in trouble. “That’s not a nice thing to say,” Ollie said.

Stupid is a bad word, too. Sometimes J or I say something is “stupid” in conversation with each other, and you’d be surprised how many times you hear “stupid” on TV, even (especially) kids’ shows. The Bad Word Police corrects us. He’s got some serious radar for forbidden words.

Mean words, bad words – whatever you call them at your house – they hurt, period. And I’m glad we’re making Ollie aware (and he, us). Kids, with their innocence and lack of a filter, say things that hurt sometimes out of sheer ignorance. That’s why having these discussions, often, matter. You know, so you don’t end up with a bigger kid with a  mean-word problem (aka: a bully).

I think Ollie has a good handle on things, but we will continue our diligence. And he will continue his.

The part that kills me is that I can’t control what other kids say to my child. In my personal experience, as a sensitive kid, mean words hurt, fester, then dissipate, but never actually leave. If you’re dubbed “dumb,” “ugly,” or “fat” among peers (or god forbid, adults), even if you aren’t, even if they grow up, even as time passes, even if they forget – you never forget. Even though mean words are completely illogical, completely absurd when you think about it with your adult mind, your child mind still hangs on.

I guess we just have to watch what we, the adults, say at home. Make sure we’re very careful about throwing around mean words, even if it’s a joke. Even if we’re literally poking fun of cookies – that we made. And keep nurturing confident kids and keep building our kids’ self worth so if mean words come their way (and they probably will), they feel good enough about themselves to know better. It’s all we can do. Now excuse me, I’m going to go have one of those, um, cookies.


Taking the Bully by the Horns

If you were not bullied at some point during childhood, I envy you. You are the like 1 percent. Most of us have bullied, too, even if it was just once or we didn’t think of it as bullying.

Social media has turned bullying on its head. Faceless words and taunts online for everyone to see hurts in a whole new way.

Online or in the flesh, bullying sucks. Recess Music recently came out with a comp of anti-bullying tracks called “Big Bully: The Best Foot Forward Series” featuring songs like “Bully Bubba,” “I’m Sorry,” and “No Put Downs.” It’s cutesy and kiddie-centric, but it got me thinking about being bullied and bullying as a kid and coping mechanisms I wish I was armed with back then.

Confidence – I think kids with healthy self-esteem and confidence are better prepared to cope with bullying. They know the difference between exaggerated words or actions of a bully and the reality of their own self worth.

A sense of humor – Bullies love a reaction. Sometimes survival means being able to get the joke (even if it’s not funny) and show you’re a good sport. It’s no fun for bullies to pick on someone who is crazy enough to go along with the insults.

Empathy – Bullies generally don’t bully because they absolutely loathe you. In fact, it could be the opposite – they could be jealous. Or, maybe they’re trying to look cool to someone else. Sometimes the bully has some serious problems at home or is being bullied by someone else – or a combination of these things and more. If you think about it that way, it’s easier to understand their behavior. It doesn’t make it right, but a little empathy goes a long way.

Healthy (offline) interests – Everyone needs a hobby, club, sport or outside interest. They work in your favor in a number of ways. First, they are generally productive and help build self-esteem; second, you get to meet people with similar interests (new friends! FTW!); and finally, they are a huge distraction from the negative forces in your day-to-day (e.g., bullies).

Compassion to not bully – So you’re being bullied or you’ve been bullied. You know it hurts and it sucks. Don’t pay if forward. There is no balance of the universe when you bully because you’ve been bullied.

Knowing when enough is enough – There usually feels like there’s too much at stake to rat out a bully, that being labeled a rat is worse than any physical harm or blows to self-esteem. But there comes a time when you have to threaten with action and take action if all else fails.

Resources: American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, Stop Bullying, International Bullying Prevention Association.

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