I am an anti-bullying Mom. I have turned into a hard core advocate after walking into my daughter’s suicide attempt due to brutal bullying. Anti-bullying became my cause, and I fought it tooth and nail. I would call out bullying whenever I saw it. Every Single Time because even ONE instance of bullying is too much. We preach a lot to our kids to be kind, to be Brave and stand up to bullying, to just be NICE. We, as adults talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? I don’t think we do.
Take a look at how adults are speaking to each other these days. There is a constant barrage of bullying happening, be it over professional sports players, at work, and of course, political bullying. Spend 5 minutes on social media and you’ll see it. How are we supposed to teach our kids not to bully when we teach them how with our behavior? We can have as many anti-bullying assemblies at school that we want, but Bullying prevention starts with all of us – especially, adults.
Actions speak louder than words.
While we may try to teach our kids that bullying is wrong, we may be modeling other behavior, without realizing it. One day after a political argument with someone online. I muttered all kinds of things under my breath as I got ready to type up another storm of words about how I was right, she was wrong, and not only wrong, but an idiot to think they way she did. As I started furiously typing, my teen said to me, “Mom, what if she’s not wrong, but just has another opinion”? I was ready to ignore her and just keep typing, then I started thinking about what I was typing and how it could feel to the other person. I thought about how I was acting, and I started typing again. I simply wrote that we had different opinions, and we disagreed, but I thanked her for sharing hers. And from then on, I made my page a place to safely talk about different opinions, if people were kind. If I want to help stop bullying, I need to make sure that I am being a bully.
During the last political campaign and election, many adults voiced very strong opinions about the different candidates. Nearly a year after the election, this continues still today. While we can’t control what comes out of the mouths of public figures and leaders, we should be a good role model by not demonstrating bullying behavior ourselves.
Regardless of our opinions of an individual, we should do our best to show kindness. Or, like many of us were taught ourselves as children, “if we can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I find myself biting my tongue, a LOT, around my teens. They are old enough to have opinions and we discuss a lot of politics. I make sure that even if I disagree with them, I am kind in my disagreements.
Danielle Matthew, author of The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate and Conquer Bullying explains that we should counter the public bullying that our children are exposed to with lessons of being a positive bystander (don’t go along with the bullying, try to stand up against it), as well as honesty, encouragement and open communication.
Bullying prevention starts with all of us – especially, adults.
Showing the behavior that we want kids to follow is one of the best ways to teach bully prevention. But, let’s face it, we’re all human, and make mistakes. If you make as mistake, you should own up to it, then apologies. By modeling and teaching our kids kindness they might remind us to be kind, too. I learned this lesson from my teen, and it was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned.