When I came home from the office the other day my three year old son, Jack, met me at the back door and told me about another little boy who had been “ugly” to him at the local playground. He went into as much detail as his three year old vocabulary would allow – with additional clarification and information coming from a very elaborate demonstration of the incident. I may not have understood everything, but it was abundantly clear that some other little boy had hit him.
Now, I’ve got to be honest and transparent at this point. I’m from a small country town in rural West Tennessee. I wasn’t raised on the parenting principles of Dr. Spock or the relational lessons of Elmo or Barney. I grew up in a home of three rough and rowdy boys where we normally settled things like this out in the backyard or behind the school gym. So, when I heard that my three year old son was being bullied, my first reaction was to tell him to punch the little punk in the kisser. (Sorry, but that was in fact my first and unsanctified thought.) As a matter of fact my boy is pretty big for his age and I thought how with just a little bit of coaching and confidence he could no doubt mop the floor with any bully he meets on the playground or preschool hall. Then the thought of how my wife would respond – to both me and my boy – when he stood in triumph over a bully on the carpet with a bloody lip brought me back to my senses.
Do I want my boy to be the target of a bully? No. Do I want him to stand idly by as others are injured or intimidated by a bully? Again, no. On the other hand, do I want him to get in trouble with teachers or get the reputation of being a “trouble maker”? Certainly not. I want my boy to be good and kind and respectful. I want him to be friendly to everybody. And, I also want him to know how to handle a bully.
This is a very important lesson for us to teach our children because bullies are not just found on playgrounds or in preschool halls. They are found in high schools, colleges, workplaces and marriages. In fact, bullies are found everywhere and everyday in life. So, if we can prepare our children to know how to handle a bully we are preparing them for life. Let me share with you some ideas, some lessons, to share with your children when they encounter the inevitable bully.
What Do You Do With A Bully?
* Just walk away. It’s difficult to be picked on or bullied if you’re not there.
* Ask them nicely to stop. I know, it may not work, but then again it might.
* Talk to a parent or adult. Talk to somebody who’s in charge, somebody in authority. Let them know what is happening.
* Find out what they want. Try to find out why they are being “ugly.”
* Ask if they would like to play. Maybe they’re lashing out because they feel left out.
* Simply ignore them. This would be the opposite of the point above. If they can’t get a negative response, they might leave you alone.
* Compliment them. Tell them that they’re good at kick ball or can climb higher than the other kids.
* Make them a friend. This would definitely take care of the bullying problem.
* Pray for them. This is a great spiritual lesson for all of us to learn.
Now, I have to admit that at first just writing this list was somewhat hard for me as a daddy. I don’t want my boy to grow up soft or sissified. Maybe you have had the same thought. But if you’ll look at this list again you’ll discover that this is much the same way that the greatest, bravest, strongest man who has ever lived – the Lord Jesus – dealt with those of us who so badly mistreated Him. You see, in teaching my son how to handle a bully, I can in fact teach him how to be more like Christ.