Avoidance, Tolerance, or Violence?
One of the most gut wrenching thoughts for any parent is to think about their child being intimidated, threatened or bullied by another child. Most parents realize they cannot always be there to protect their child and that their child must learn how to handle difficult situations out in the world. But what advice is actually appropriate to give a child about how to handle a bully? We tell kids they should ignore the bully, they should forcefully say stop, or they should walk away. But what if these strategies don’t work? We can say they should tell a teacher but we know that usually only makes things worse. We can say they should tell us, and as parents we will meet with the parents of the bully, but that also is likely to make things worse. And, many bullies are simply modeling behavior they see at home so there’s that. We can tell them they should punch the bully in the nose, but then we are teaching our children to solve problems with violence. So, how do we protect our kids from those who need to put others down, or hurt others in order to deal with their own feelings of inadequacy?