This month is anti-bullying month and I was inspired to write about our family’s recent experiences on this topic.
Sophie, my 9 year old, has been going through a challenging time lately. Not because school is hard, she loves it and is excelling, but because of one little mean girl.
I don’t think kids are born mean, I really don’t. I mean sure, there are illness of the mind but in general I beleive that children are born with a default for love, kindness and joy. Did you know that 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetic makeup and 50% by environment. When I look at mean children, to me their behavior is an expression of thier unhappiness, and that thier lashing out at other children is a result of a hostile and stressful home environment. I don’t know the science behind this tendency, but my instinct tells me this is the truth in most cases.
So when Sophie comes home in tears as she has done quite a few times lately, I don’t freak out. Instead I take it as an opportunity to teach her 2 INCREADIBLY important life lessons.
Empathy. Feeling compassion for this girl is not what Sophie wants to do in these emotional moments. I get that. But even if she isn’t responsive to my words in the moment, I still open my mouth and say them. I ask her what she thinks it may be like in this girls home. I explain to Sophie that this little girls need to emotionally manipulate and degrade her friends is not a natural element of friendship, but something she uses to feel good about herself. I don’t know this girls home life situation, but I know she is the littlest in a house full of brothers and is probably made to feel inferior on a daily basis. Sophie gets this and she begins to calm down…
Inner Strength and Wisdom. Now this is the part that we think is the most fun! I just don’t believe that challenges in your life are meant to crush us but rather are meant to point us in the direction towards greater clarity of our strength, potential and inner mojo! We talk about this point about Sophie’s power. What does she have power over? She has power over the situations she puts herself in, has the power to remove herself from situations that don’t feel good, she has the power to choose the people she plays with, people that make her feel good (she has plenty of them) and has the power to choose to be alone, that being alone and reading a book can sometimes be the most powerful thing you can do. This conversation gives her choice and allows her to see that no one, I mean no one can overpower you without your consent. I tell her the most important thing in the world is how you feel and you have the power to feel good in any moment – you create your situations and have power over your moments.
What she experiences when she does this at school is that this girl no longer impacts her, the girl has lost her power over Sophie. But she must remember to do this over and over again, so we talk about it everyday in order for this way of dealing with negative energy from others becomes habitual for her.
Before our 6 minute ride home has finished, she is lighter and she is realigned to her source of joy. There are many things we can say to our children about being bullied, but take it as an opportunity like this one to teach your children skills and habits of true empowerment that they can take with them throughout their life to combat anything life throws at them. I know more than anything that my daughter is resourceful and creative and has the power to design and craft her own life to look and feel just as she likes, even at 9. It is my job then to make that power real and tangible for her.
I would love to hear your stories of how you positively dealt with bullying situations with yourself or with your children. Let’s inspire each other!
Sending love and light to all the children out there who experience meanness and negativity on a daily basis…