Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Bully Factor

It's one of the facts of child rearing - eventually your child WILL be bullied. You hope it will be later rather than sooner. You hope your child will handle it well emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. But really, you hope it just won't happen at all - of course that's a pipe dream. Today was our day.

Zach was at a birthday party for his best buddy when one of the other party guests decided to bully him. I'm not sure when it started, but it apparently escalated over a toy car that Zach wanted to play with. He picked it up when the other boy tried to grab it from him. Zach tugged back but when he saw it escalating he backed of and just walked away (like we taught him) then the other boy tosses the car aside and comes back at Zach, pushing and hitting, Zach tried to walk away, but the other kid kept at it so Zach took a swing. Thankfully, the mother of the birthday boy (and one of my best friends) intervened and made bully-boy stop and apologize.

I am very proud of Zachary for how he handled himself. That may sound strange considering he took a swing at the kid, but he did everything we taught him. You walk away when someone is being a bully and unreasonable. If he pursues you or corners you, you don't escalate it to a physical confrontation, however if the bully does and you can't get away - you defend yourself.

When I asked Zachary what happened he was confused "He hates me Mommy" - that was hard to hear. We had a talk on the way home about why bullies are mean - they don't hate you, they don't like something about themselves and when they see positive characteristics in you it reminds them of their own faults and they lash out. Zachary is not perfect, but he has plenty of positive attributes and there is no reason for anyone to "hate" him. I know, I'm biased, but really.

The concept of bullies hating themselves and lashing out at others may be a bit much for him to get at this point, but I think he understood the basics - that there is nothing wrong with him and it's ok to defend yourself. That's my main concern. I remember what it was like to be bullied. It sucks, it pulls your self-esteem right down to zero. I don't want that happening to Zachary at age 6.

So yet another milestone in our journey together as a family. Zach is losing his first tooth - soon we'll have a new milestone. I'm sure we will all handle that one well too. At least it has a monetary pay out.

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