What Do I Teach My Child about Bullies?1
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “You must prepare your child for the road, but you can’t prepare the road for your child.” If you’ve never heard that before, stop a minute and let it sink in. We all want to keep our children safe; they are precious gifts from God. We can’t even begin to consider what we’d do if something were to happen to one of them. But so often as parents we go too far in our wanting to keep them safe and miss what is really important whenever they face a tough challenge.
I can hear you now thinking, “Has this woman lost her mind? What have my parenting goals got to do with teaching my child how to handle a bully?” What I want you to consider is what is really important for your child to learn if faced with a bully. Does he need to know at that moment how much you love him and to what lengths you will go to protect him? Or would it be better to help him learn how to not allow someone’s unkind, even mean, words or actions make him feel less about himself? There will ALWAYS be people out there who say things or do things to hurt others (you can’t prepare the road). Children are going to face tough situations. It’s part of life. So what they need is a firm grasp on who they are - a person created in the image of God with unique talents and abilities that He has given them. And NOTHING anyone can say or do can change that.
Also, your child needs to know how to deal with conflict. The Bible has much to say on the issue, but the principles of conflict resolution are often difficult for us to follow. We must learn to go to people, to tell them what we don’t like, but also to listen to them and their reasons. As parents and teachers, it is our job to help children walk through those steps. When we give them a sound understanding of who they are and teach them how to directly deal with others who hurt or offend them, then we are preparing our child for the road.
Finally, they need to look at the situation from the viewpoint of a victor, not a victim. Too often our hyper-attention unintentionally leaves children feeling like victims like everyone is always out to get me. While we do need to sympathize with them and comfort them, we also need to help them get back up and handle the situation for themselves. That’s how they become a victor. At that point, parents and teachers become cheerleaders. We’ve taught them how to view themselves from a biblical perspective. We’ve shown them how to confront a bully. Now, we need to stand back and let them become the victor we all know they can be. And we can sit back and think, I’ve given my child what he needs - I’ve prepared him for the road - I’ve helped him walk in victory, not in victimization.