I have had people of late either emailing me or private messaging me on our Vital Wellbeing Facebook page about bullying. All correspondence had an underlying theme of “what do I do to support my child.” Interestingly we recently had two bullying situations created which has prompted me to share with you how we handled the circumstances. I imagine we handled it differently to most, at least in the discussion, as to why bullies show up in your life or your child’s life in the first place. I have chosen one of the circumstances to illustrate how we handled the conversation and situation.
About two months ago now our eldest boy had an experience with another boy in one of the sports he participates in. For two weeks running he came home after training with a different vibrancy. At our evening meal, when we have our discussion of the day’s activities my husband and I noticed he was not himself and we both asked him if he would like to share what was happening for him. He said nothing. As his mum I knew something was not quite right, he was different in thought, more pensive. I stayed with my “mother’s knowing” and let him know my ear was present whenever he wanted to share his story. Of course throughout that time I was engaging in conversation, open and ready to delve into his mind and feelings of what was happening. Another week past and more of the same continued. The following week he returned from the sports training and once again we all sat down to dinner. A little voice suddenly began to share what was happening for him. He spoke about being bullied at training and how it made him feel. We all (including his brother and sister) allowed him to share his story completely. We then slowly and skillfully began to remove the bully from the conversation. This we felt was a key to moving beyond the bullying to truly see the opportunity that lay before him.
We have always taught our children the world exists in perfect order, that indeed you cannot have health without disease, males without females, light without dark, nice without mean, happy without sad and so forth. We explained to our eldest boy of 10yrs that if a bully is presenting them self in his life then where is he not standing up for himself and governing his own life. In other words, where is he not empowered. We went through the seven areas of life – spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, familial, social and physical – with him so he could indeed see where he felt inferior to others and as a result attracting a bully to give him a new found strength of self.
We went on to explain to all our children that night at the table that NO ONE is a victim to a bully. But rather these circumstances are created to give one new insights about themselves whilst adding more bows to a quiver to draw upon as one matures and experiences life.
We wanted to make sure he understood the part where we said he was not a victim but rather had a hand in creating this opportunity for his growth and maturation. He got it.
We then went on to have the conversation about what he felt he could do to gain his strength and empower himself in the area of life where the bully was showing up. He made some suggestions of which my husband and I fully supported because his response was driven from him. My husband and I also offered some tweaking to his words from a guidance perspective as well. Essentially however we empowered him to say what he felt he wanted to say in the moment to that person. The following day at training the bully presented himself which we told our son would continue to occur until he, himself, confronted the situation.
These are the exact words our son spoke to the bully …
“If you friggin don’t stop telling me that my face is ugly,
I will friggin tell the instructor that you’re a friggin bully and you
won’t be friggin allowed back here, so friggin leave me alone”
The bully has not come back.
I am a mother who will step in to protect and support my children. However I too acknowledge that I am here to guide my children through particular life experiences which I feel they are the only ones able to resolve. This instance was one of those times. I didn’t want to be the one to show up to speak to the bully because he, the bully, did not show up to me. Nor did I want to feel like I was going in to “battle” for my son in a “battle” I didn’t create. But rather I wanted to give him the skills, the insight and above all the confidence to step forward and resolve this for himself.
As a family it took almost two weeks to guide the conversation with our children about bullies and what they do and do not represent. Towards the end of the two weeks our eldest decided to rehearse what he wanted to say. Each time he rehearsed out loud to us he felt more attuned to the protector within himself.
I feel the importance in sharing this with you is not that my son was empowered to speak his mind in the way he did, but rather how we framed the bully for him; the fact that the bully is there to teach you a lesson about YOURSELF, to offer you another bow for your quiver of life, to enable you to step up and speak your truth. We taught him too that if he didn’t stand up and speak what he wanted to with this bully and essentially kept walking away and ignoring him that he would create another bully somewhere else in his life until he got the lesson and notched the experience under his belt.
The night he came home from having spoken up for himself and essentially taking responsibility for his life, there was a different young boy sitting at the dinner table with us. He sat sharing his experience with a new found empowerment that I knew could not have been given or provided had I, the mum, stepped in to make it different for him. However this too does not mean a bully will not show up again, in fact it would be an illusion to think it wouldn’t happen. What our son now has is an understanding and an insight as to why a bully shows up, the openness to share the circumstances and confidence to stand up for himself. Bravo. Thanks to “the bully” or what we called “the gift” which showed up that eventful day to teach my son an irreplaceable life lesson.
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