But My Child is Perfect! (How to Support Your Children Going Through Bullying)
Author: Tameka Baker-Grimes
Becoming a Parent is such an amazing journey and, in your mind, your babies are the perfect beings. All you want to do is smother your children with love for the rest of your life. Though I am a realist, it was defiantly the same thought process for me as I birthed my three gorgeous babies. In my mind, they were flawless and everyone should love them. However, there came a time when I realized that this notion is far from the truth.
My first-born was a chunky eight and a half pound little boy we named Imari and we described him as absolutely perfect. Fast forward to five years old he broke my heart by starting kindergarten. On that day I remember crying in my husband’s arms screaming, “who’s going to tie his shoes”, crazy and hilarious I know. Elementary school was not the easiest road for our little guy he was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of seven and then the bullying began. It was so painful to watch him hurt and not understand why people were being mean to him. For the first time in my life as a parent, I realized that he is imperfect and not everyone would be loving and kind with him. Here are three things we did to help him through this difficult time is communicate, train and advocate.
· Communicate- We were in touch with his teachers often. I was adamant that the teachers understand that I considered them as my teammates in this situation. More importantly, I had open and honest conversations with my seven-year-old about what happened, his feeling, and the expression of his emotions. It is my job as a parent to build his confidence level so that negativity has less of an effect on him. We sat together and affirmed everything that was amazing about him. ADHD became his superpower; his kindness was a gift and his smile was contagious. I worked hard to help him see how beautiful and important he is to this world. Every evening after school, we had a recap of the day and we would all share about the different emotions of the day.
· Training- Somedays were more difficult than others were and he would react without thought. Someday he would come home so angry and everyone in my home including siblings and cousins would feel the effects. We had to help him to work through these emotions in a positive manner. This is where my husband shined and introduced him to football. Dad trained him to use the negative energy in a different way. Dad trained him on how to stand up for himself without being confrontational. Football gave him a different level of confidence and since of family with his teammate. He now had new friends at school and that made bullying less of a distraction.
· Advocate- No one is going to fight for our children so we have to step up and do the work ourselves. I remember there was one incident that became physical at school. I received a call from them explaining the situation. During our recap of the day, he explained in more detail what happened and how it made him feel. The next day made an appointment with the principal to discuss the bullying and to come up with a plan. Sometimes you have to be that parent that administration remembers.
Bullying is so difficult for our children because let us face it, some can be mean. It is my belief that bullying is a behavior at the surface and in most cases there is something boiling underneath. I have taught my children to consider the behavior as that child expressing their hurt. Parents need to take some responsibility about the behavior of their children. Teach your children to lead with kindness and inclusion. Build confidence and perseverance so they can face anything and anyone the world throws at them with your support.