We put up a post from “Deep South Moms Blog” on Tuesday by a mother worrying that her popular daughter would grow into a mean girl. I was really intrigued by this post. I’m willing to overlook the woman’s attempt to shift the blame for her own childhood behavior onto her “sidekick” because she obviously learned from her mistakes and changed her spots.
This is a topic I’ve thought about as my children enter school. Bullying. Boys tend to be very upfront and physical in their bullying while girls tend to be quietly cruel. Girls start rumors, do the whisper-look-laugh thing and pass around lists. “If you hate so-and-so sign here.”
I’d say the best way to teach your kids to be kind is to talk to them about your expectations for their behavior toward others, but don’t overlook the obvious “actions speak louder than words” adage. Do you and your spouse or friends make fun of others you know or see on TV or read about in the paper? Kids hear so much more than we realize and they internalize that behavior. Often they mimic it.
Teach by example. Always be kind. Immediately put a stop to cruel behavior you see in your children or hear about from teachers. I’ve been on the receiving end of teasing and bullying and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve also been on the giving end a few times. I was not one of the popluar girls, but there’s always someone lower on the pecking order isn’t there? Thankfully most of this behavior peters out in high school and virtually disappears in college. The scars to those who were bullied, however, can last a lifetime.
My oldest son is very bright and wears glasses and has already been the target of bullying. He tends to be very intense and wants to immediately connect with and make friends with whomever he meets. He is also bossy and believes he knows the best way to do most things. This can be disconcerting (and annoying) to other kids. My middle child, also very bright, seems to be well liked by everyone because he is so laid back, sweet, and basically does whatever the other kids want to do. It will be interesting to see how their different personalities play out in a school setting. My own younger sister was very popular in school, but ironically suffered bullying from within her own clique.
I also remember that the kids who got into the most trouble with drugs and alcohol, and had the hardest time adjusting to college life where no one cares who you were in high school, were the kids who had been very popular. For everything there is a price, I suppose.
The fact is that we have very little control over how our kids treat other kids when we’re not around. All we can do is tell them what we expect, lead by example and hope for the best. But here’s a question for all the parents out there – What would you do if you were told by the school that your child had been caught bullying another child?