Let’s talk about bullying! It’s something that my family personally encountered in 3-year-old childcare and ever since, I have been on a mission to understand what bullying is and how is society contributing to this epidemic issue facing our children.
You could ask “how was it bullying at the age of 3?’ It was 2 older boys (5-year olds) who thought the Geelong batman t-shirt my son wore was unacceptable and thought it was funny to taunt him about. He had no idea what football is back then, and it was a super hero t-shirt as far as he was concerned. Then he got teased for having his soft toy to sleep with. So, he stopped napping and taking his soft toy! It was such a distressing time for him!
My reaction? What a great opportunity to start learning about the mechanics of the world and how we can contribute positively to it.
You see, although there are varying degrees of bullying, it is important for our children to learn that the world is not a rosy place, and that regardless of what the world does, it is their reaction to what is happening that ultimately matters.
Bullying campaigns are focusing on bullies as being the bad people and the victims as powerless victims. Yet, bullies only have power when they are given it and victims become powerless when they are not empowered by knowing that they can respond how they want. There is also a 3rd category involved in bullying and that is the bystanders. The ones that either fuel or diffuse a situation where bullying is taking place. How are we teaching our children to react in uncomfortable situations?
I invite you as the parent to have conversations with your children from as young as one around this topic. Make it relevant to them in terms of language with dialogue based around kindness, compassion, addressing feelings no matter how big or small, and bringing their attention to how someone feels linked to their actions.
Out of our own experience, we have been able to talk about how it feels to be picked on, where that hurts and how could it be different. By having this conversation with my then 3-year-old, he is aware of what it feels like to be bullied. I am certain there will be times when he may become the bully. However, with these dialogues happening in our household, I hope that his awareness would be to shift out of bully and to someone who will rectify not only his actions, but to also call someone out on theirs.
What are your thoughts?