Sometimes it's not bullying, it's just being a kid
What would you do if you found out that your child was making fun or being mean to another child? We'd like to believe that we would be the parent who had all the answers. The fact of the matter is this: These situations are not black and white. Every child is different, every situation is different and your reaction might be different than you expected.
Children have bullied both my daughters over the last few years. As the parent of a child who was on the receiving end of the bullying, I made sure to talk to my children. I let them know that this was through no fault of their own and reassured them that they were good enough. I approached the teacher, she intervened and it stopped.
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It never occurred to me what I would do if my child were the one being mean. I knew punishment would be swift and just because I know the toll bullying can take on a child. I've never been one of those parents who think that "bullying" is just a part of growing up and lets kids handle it themselves. These are teachable moments.
Last week, my daughter was part of a letter that listed insults about a little boy. Another girl in her class, a known bully, instigated the situation. She wrote the letter and assigned four different girls names to each insult. One of the names was my daughter. My daughter tried to take the note to the teacher and was shushed and the note was ignored until a little later when the teacher caught my daughter with the note.
She's never done anything like this before and I want to ensure it never happens again. It took a lot of thought and careful discussion between my husband and I. We sat our daughter down to find out the whole story, had a conversation about bad behavior and asked why she did it. Then we explained why it wasn't right or acceptable. We expressed our disappointment in the behavior. Then we found a punishment to fit the crime, one that would teach her a lesson and one where she would feel the weight of her consequences.
We decided her punishment would be no television or electronics for 30 days, no birthday parties, no play dates and she had to write the child a sincere apology letter and say five kind things to him. I don't believe humiliating a child who misbehaves is the way to change their behavior. I want my child to grow from this experience, not learn that humiliation and behaving badly is okay if done by an adult. I want her to be compassionate, caring and know that her words have weight.
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