Bully Proof Your Kids

Recently I was horrified at the suicide of a third grader, who was a victim of bullying.  My heart sank as I read the terrible nature in which he died.  As a parent I read this and I thought about my own children and how I would handle such devastating news.

Bullying is very real.  It occurs at every age in life.  Yet as we grow older, most learn how to adapt and overcome bullying.  But when your an eight year old kid, it is demoralizing to be repeatedly bullied.  Bullied to a point where ending your own life, is the only option.  But what is more sad is the thought that a third grader knows how to end their own life.

Bullying needs to be an unacceptable behavior ALWAYS, especially among children. And we as adults must work harder at stopping it.  I realize our world will never be 100% bully proof, however we must continue to educate each other about the harmful impacts brought about by bullying.  We must work harder at stopping future generations of becoming victims.

I know firsthand what it’s like to be bullied AND I also know what it’s like to be a bully.   And let me say, I am not proud of myself for being a bully as a young teen.  However I acknowledge I can’t change my past and attribute my actions to being from a broken home, with little guidance and searching for a sense of belonging.  And while I can't guarantee it would have made a difference, I believe had my life had more stability, my actions might have been different.

So what can we do to eradicate this disease from the human condition.  First and foremost, we as parents must be active parents in our children’s lives.  That means, we must know who their friends are. Being fully engaged in all their school activities and having access to all their electronic means of communication.   Also we must talk to our children and level set our expectations.  Kids are very receptive to doing the right thing, so long as we as parents are willing to bring them into the conversation and allow them to understand why.  Learn to talk to your kids and not at them.  Learn to demand more from their behavior that is positive.  Help them understand the importance of standing up to bullying, in order to protect the weak.  And while talking is great, we also have to get our children involved in activities to build their body and their mind.  

There are plenty of ways in which to accomplish this and no activity is a cure all.  For instance, my daughter is heavily involved with Ballet.  It is her lifeblood and an activity she is passionate about.  This activity not only teaches her dance but also teaches discipline, self-control and relationship building.  All characteristics which has produced a very confident young lady.  However for my boys, they are involved in martial arts.  Both boys are active in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Boxing.   For me the primary benefits of them participating in martial arts is fitness, self-esteem and most importantly character.  But whatever the activity, use it as a means of building them up where they are not searching out others to bully or be bullied by.

In closing, bullying is a real problem for kids.  It's an issue where children's lives are damaged, sometimes long lasting.  We as adults have an obligation to stop this wherever we can.  But we need to start with being active in our children's lives and providing them guidance.  We need to build their self-esteem so they don't become a victim or worse a perpetrator.  Bully proof your kids, so they can bully proof others.

Peace, Love & Chokes,

Will h.


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