Bullying Prevention Begins at Home
A guest post and giveaway from Michelle K. Pickett.
So, it’s National Bullying Prevention month, and I’m so proud to write for a publishing house that supports this cause. When Clean Teen asked the authors if we wanted to write a blog post about bullying, I knew immediately that I did. What I didn’t know was what direction I wanted to take. I wrote last year about getting bullied when I was in school, and a little about my son, who is facing bullying now. I wanted to talk about something new this year, but it took me a while to figure out what I needed to say. And then I saw this…
The image, or rather what it said, gave me pause. As a parent, it’s easy for me to talk about how horrible bullying is. I can lament about my struggle. I can rage about my son’s struggle, because seeing him bullied is worse than being bullied myself. It just works that way with parents, I think.
But I get a weird quiver in my chest when I think of what I’m actually doing to stop bullying. Yes, I speak against it. I blog, I participate in prevention month activities, I tell my story, but what am I Doing? Not much, actually.
What I realized, and this is a hard truth for us all, is that bullying begins at home. It’s learned, for the most part. Or, at the very least, it isn’t discouraged—until it happens to us. It’s only after the bullying begins that most of us speak out. And I’m pointing the finger at myself when I say that.
So what’s the answer? What should I be doing? Well, I don’t know. And that’s probably what causes that quiver I mentioned. I know I should do something, but I’m not sure exactly what to do. But I have some thoughts…
Love my kids. Unconditionally, unequivocally, and more than myself.
Teach my kids to love. How? See point one. People who are loved have a better understanding of how to give it.
Realize that spoiling my children with love is not the same as spoiling them with things.
Give them my time. In today’s fast paced society, this is sometimes a struggle. But, from this point forward, I vow to do better. I will have game night with my children. I will have craft weekends…something we used to do, and enjoyed, but somehow let it fall through the cracks. I will gather my family together to eat at the dinner table so I can listen to their day.
Be polite. Something I’m proud of is hearing my children say please and thank you to each other. They do when speaking to me and my husband, Larry, too. But I especially love hearing them say it to each other when they don’t know I’m listening. But my kids being polite isn’t all that needs to happen, they need to witness me doing the same. To my husband, to them, the cashier at the grocery store, and the many others I might come in contact with throughout my day.
Teach my children to be humble. In our society humility is sometimes viewed as a weakness. Teaching our children what humility is, showing them what it looks like, will hopefully show them how strong a humble person really is.
Teach my children that others, no matter what their social station in life, are important, have worth, and should be loved. How will I do this? By participating in serving meals to the homeless, food drives, working in the clothes closet, a place that offers free clothing to the underprivileged. We do this already, but there is always room for more.
Of course there are other things I can, and will try, to do. The list could go on for pages. But these handful of actions serve as my jumping off point. But I have one additional item. An important one, so I wanted to list it separately. Respect. Children should show respect to their elders, yes. But if we don’t respect our children, how will they learn what it looks like? If they don’t know what it is, they can’t offer it to another. This is not to say my children will be allowed to run around and do whatever they want and I’ll respect that. Nope. We have rules, and making sure children follow and live within those rules is important. But I can also use them to teach respect. One way is answering their questions in meaningful ways, not using: because I said so. Which, I’m guilty of. With four kids, each asking me “why” a hundred times a day, the two standbys are so easy to fall back on: “Because I said so” or the other I’ve caught myself using “Because I’m the mom, that’s why.”
You might be asking why I haven’t mentioned teaching them about bullying and emphasizing that they shouldn’t do it, or talking to them about those bullying them. Well, first, it really goes without saying that I try to do that already. But, second, my thought is, if I show them love, humility, respect, and so forth, I AM teaching them about bullying. I’m teaching them how to love and respect others, and in doing so, they understand how NOT to treat others.
At least that’s my hope. Am I right? Pssh, I don’t know. But I think admitting that bullying begins at home is an important first step for all parents.
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.
I think the two—bullying and domestic violence—go hand in hand, so it’s fitting. For those who haven’t read my book—UNSPEAKABLE— the main character deals with domestic violence.
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