“Do you have a minute to chat?” my son's teacher asked me waving me to come into her classroom.
My stomach dropped as I managed a smile, “Sure!”
She began to tell me a story about a tribe of four boys picking on another, smaller boy in their class.
Part of the tribe.
My heart sank because I know that behavior would not make my son feel good and because the boy being picked on is a friend.
Social pressures of boys are tricky especially as they are trying to figure out how to navigate the friendship terrain. What feels right may not feel good and fear, as well as panic, overcome kids trying to understand how to like and how to be liked…a child might make a bad decision but that doesn't mean that she is not kind and compassionate. Precisely the opposite, a moment like this one provides an opportunity to teach a child what it means to be a friend and to be empathetic.
So, what is a mom to do when she is told HER son is the one bullying?
Related Read: What You Can Do about Bullying
I slept on it. I waited for the right time to talk about the situation in a way that was non-threatening and relevant. I didn't want him to be defensive.
Related Read: A Simple Change in Verbiage Made All the Difference
I needed to gather information and needed him to open up to me.
Then I needed to find the right words.
My Main TakeAways from Being the Parent of the Bully
- WAIT for the right time to have a conversation within context and relevant
- ROLEPLAY various social scenarios
- GATHER information with lots of “what about” questions a la Dr. Ross Greene's collaborative problem-solving approach.
- ASK questions such as, “What would you do if you were Billy?” Boys are more likely to respond with more words than if asking “How would you feel if…” Read Leonard Sax's Boys Adrift for more insight into that science.
- IDENTIFY role models in your child's class, in books you're reading, and in your family. Toss aside books that degrade the characteristics such as caring about friends, about your family, and about your school life.
- BE the model by being kind and being the one who stands up for the “smaller” child. Even if you have to exaggerate this modeling, the lesson will still be there…