Monday, April 20, 2015

How Do We Teach Kids to Stand Up For Themselves?

From birth we begin to teach kids to stand up for themselves. We teach them phrases like "Stop it" "I don't like that" "That hurts my feelings" and many others when they have a conflict with another child. When they enter school, preschool even, the schools implement anti-bullying campaigns. 

Walk into any PreK or primary school and you will be bombarded with images like these:

When you go into a middle school or high school you may see posters like this:

And that's not all. During presentations to students they use visuals like this:

Why then, do some kids not stand up for themselves and others?

I never thought much about bullying because I naively believed my kids were kind and that they knew what to do to stand up for themselves and others. I was very, very wrong.

One night I went into my daughters room to tuck her in. That is when I saw the most shocking thing:
It was a piece of notebook paper on her desk that read "I HATE (classmates name) because today she......." This line was written out ten times with space to write what is done to her each day at school by this girl. The first line was filled in with "licked my erasers, poked me with a pencil, threw my folder on the floor" 

This broke my heart. I had a talk with her and found out it had been going on for about a month, ever since she was seated next to this girl. She had done other things also. She licked her clothing, brushed eraser shavings onto her desk just to be annoying, pinched or scratched her, and threw other belonging of hers such as pencils and erasers. 

We discussed ways she could stand up for herself. She said she had done those things. I explained that the next step is getting help from an adult.

I explained to her that she needed to tell her teacher. She is such a kind tender-hearted girl. She said she did not want her classmate to get in trouble and that her classmate was only teasing. That is not teasing. Why does she not know the difference? She was afraid.

I offered to e-mail the teacher ahead of time to have his ask my daughter what has been happening with her seat mate so that she wouldn't need to approach the teacher. It all worked out. She was honest and the girl was moved. 

My question is, how many other things like this has happened that I do not know about? What will she do next time? Will she tell me? Will she allow mistreatment and not say a thing? I do not know. 

Will all the anti-bullying education, why is this still happening. What more can really be done. Are kind children like mine always going to be easy targets?

What do you do to teach your kids how to stand up for themselves?