Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Please Don't Feed the Bullies


 We finally got an IEP through for our granddaughter with full-blown ADHD, along with a few other issues she's had to deal with for years. Even with her issues, she is one of the sweetest little girls you'll ever meet, if you're lucky enough to still meet sweet girls by the time they're school age.

She's getting extra help with a couple of her subjects most every day. Now and then, the special education teacher can't give her that help due to anti-bullying day. They have an ongoing session to teach kids why it's bad to be a bully and how to handle it if they are bullied. Back to that...

Little one has been dealing with two bullies on the bus starting in Kindergarten. Two years ago. Last year we kept all of our young grands home for other reasons, but it started right back up this year. One of the bullies is her age, the other a bit older. Brothers. They have been reported time and again and not only by us. They're also doing it to our two grandsons. It's wrong for all of them to have to deal with that. And it's not minor. It includes physical threats and indecent exposure. They have been kicked off for a couple of weeks at least once, but it's hard for their parents to drive them to school and pick them up due to work schedules, so the school has been lenient.

Well, how convenient for the parents who haven't taught their children to be nice to others.

Meanwhile, our little ones, including our special needs little one who is just as sensitive as she is sweet, have to deal with the insults, harassment, threats, and inappropriate sexual conduct. On the school bus. In SECOND grade.

The typical response has been handed down to Sweet Girl time and again whenever she gets upset about someone being mean/rude/unfair: 
1) Ignore them
2) Don't let it get to you
3) Laugh back if they laugh at you
4) Get tougher because the world is tough

Awful. All of it. 

All of that advice is awful, and I've been guilty of telling her to simply read or color or talk to her friend on the bus and pretend not to hear them. Because what else can she do when the school won't stop it? Should we have to drive ours in and pick them up every day, taking their privilege of being on the bus with their friends away because the bad behavior isn't being stopped?

And more importantly, should kids really have to toughen up because the world is tough?

Yes, maybe they do, to an extent, and in time. Not, however, when they are young enough we're supposed to be protecting them. That's why they have parents/grandparents. That's why they're supposed to have constant supervision by competent adults. 

We don't need fewer sweet kids who show their emotions. We need more of them. They are the lights the world desperately needs.

And yet we start early trying to extinguish those lights by telling them to toughen up.

No. That sweet baby should not have to toughen up. That sweet baby who notices when someone else hurts or needs a hand and jumps right in to try to help any way she can must be protected. Her light must not be extinguished or dimmed. It must be fueled and encouraged. 

That anti-bullying program thing in schools? Just stop it. It doesn't work. Never in the history of telling an aggressor to please be nice has it ever made said aggressor suddenly be nice. It doesn't. It never has. It never will. Those programs only fuel them because it's giving them the limelight they want.

They WANT that limelight, in the same way children being naughty at home want the attention their parents give them for being naughty. We are feeding their egos with these programs. We are empowering them.

Two things will stop bullies:

1) A good example. Be nice to your children so your children know how to be nice to others. Bullying comes from home. If your kid thinks it's funny to make others mad or upset, it's YOUR fault. Look at your actions and correct them. Teach them respect by being respectful to them. Teach them to care by showing you care about them. (NOT with stuff. Not with overindulgence. With real quality time and respectful discipline.)

2) When that fails, appropriate discipline must be applied from the outside. No amount of begging or pretty little slap on the hand will work. Those boys need to be kicked off the bus. Not for a week. For the rest of the year. If it's hard on the parents, good. Maybe they'll learn to do their job. Make the perpetrators pay for the crime.

We have turned into a nation of coddling with stuff rather than giving of ourselves, and we are rewarding criminals at the expense of the victims. We are dampening our own lights every time we do so. 

We are feeding the bullies. We are letting them win every time a light is dimmed in the name of "toughen up and deal with it."

Stop trying to change the sweet, gentle little ones, the noticers, the lights of our world. Stop telling them their emotions are wrong, or that showing their emotions is bad. We spend so much time these days trying to convince each other that it's okay to feel what we feel and be who we are, and yet we're still telling our sweet kids to toughen up and hide their feelings. We are creating more trauma for them than bullies ever could when we force them to hide who they are and how they feel. Stop it.

Comfort them when they need comfort. Hug their tears away. Tell them how beautiful they are and how much you love them. Stand up for them. Teach your kids to stand up for themselves, but don't try to make them hard. The world doesn't need more hardening. It needs more noticing the good. It needs more light. Feed that light and they can learn how to deal with the harshness of the world while still seeing, and spreading, the beauty in it.

Those sweet children are a true gift to us and to the world. We need them as they are.